When I was thirteen years old, I bought my very first LP. It was Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over troubled waters”. I can still sing the refrain of one of the songs from memory. The song is called “So long, Frank Lloyd Wright”, and the refrain goes like this:
Architects may come
and architects may go
and never change your point of view.
When I run dry
I stop awhile and think of you.
To this day, it is the only pop song about architects that I can remember. Architects inspire other architects, and photographers, but not songwriters. The song gives us a reason for this: architects don’t change our point of view very much. But Frank Lloyd Wright did. In his architecture style, a roof defines the space under it, and in this space he puts one or more buildings. These buildings have clean and simple lines; they can be reduced to their essentials because their place under the roof says the rest that needs to be said. For those of us who prefer to think that buildings define space, the idea that the roof defines the space and that the buildings derive their place and purpose from the roof is definitely a new point of view.
Do we need a similar change of viewpoint in the world of IT? In my opinion, the answer is an unequivocal “Yes!”. I think we need the very same change in point of view that Frank Lloyd Wright promoted in his architecture. We are accustomed to think that information systems are the really important entities, from which we derive the connections with other systems. This way of thinking has led to the shipwreck of many CRM, ERP, call center and web site projects, in fact any project in which information from many sources must be combined. Until we learn to think of the connections between them – the roof , if you will – as being of primary importance, we will always end up with systems integration being prohibitively expensive. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly essential to survive and compete as well.
Now that I think of it, I don’t know any pop songs at all about IT-ers. And I think the chances of somebody ever writing a song about that strange combination of architect and IT which I happen to represent, the IT-architect, are somewhere very close to zero. Perhaps we should change your point of view more often.