“Complexity of IT Systems Will Be Our Undoing”

eserversI know, I know, I know ALL I seem to go on about is COMPLEXITY! So, what’s your problem with that? Do you get it? Do you understand what I am saying and why?

Did you know that I am not alone?

Please tell me I’m not alone!!!

Well here is pretty emphatic reassurance for me that I am not – just the blogging equivalent of the guy howling at the moon – exaggerating the nature and extent of the problem.

This time it’s not from a business, economic, environmental, political or sociological perspective but from the “upper echelons of IT”.

You know the most ironic thing is that Roger knows that Ontonix already have a provide a “hard science” solution!     I did wonder why, instead of “waxing lyrical” about the problem, he wasn’t talking about available [tried and tested] solutions….then I read the bits about a patent and consultancy!

Complexity of IT Systems Will Be Our Undoing – PCWorld Business Center.

The basic problem is the larger and more expensive an IT project is, the more likely it is to fail. You can do a lot of analysis as to why that is. You can say maybe we’re not using the right methodology, or communications is failing, or any number of things. But ultimately the only variable that appears to correlate closely with failure is complexity.So my basic proposal is that as systems get bigger and more expensive they get more complex and complex things are harder to deal with and therefore more likely to fail. So if the system is under, say $750,000, it has a good chance of succeeding. Once it approaches $2 million it has less than a 50% chance of succeeding. And by the time it gets much larger than that, the chances of success drop to near zero.

3 Responses to “Complexity of IT Systems Will Be Our Undoing”

  1. David,

    I know exactly how you feel (about howling at the moon!)

    I wonder if people treat complexity as an emotion such as happiness. They intuitively know when they are not too happy, somewhat happy, really happy, etc; but don’t place a premium on scientifically measuring it! (After all they can always get some Prozac!)

    BTW that article was indeed an ad for Sessions’ company!

    • Thanks for “stopping by” Bala. It is indeed comforting to know I am talking to someone other than myself!

      I am very concerned that it does not suit the interests of Academia or some areas of Consultancy to acknowledge that such a major breakthrough – applicable, tried and tested, in multiple critical areas and processes – has been made. I only wonder for how much longer financial institutions can afford [or will feel inclined] to dispense Prozac, in the form of credit or insurance for firms that fail to address known areas of risk.

      I, for one, know how happy that would make me because identifying and and tackling fragility within systems, ecosystems and their networks is the only means to restore robustness [or “fire-breaks”]. Building systemic robustness instead of facilitating systemic risk!!!

      I have enjoyed and and “developed” some of your own articles – hopefully I have done then justice- in an effort to ensure that we, at least, howl in the same key!!!

      Best and thanks again for your comment.


  2. Bill Ferme says:

    I have worked with ERP ( manufacturing ) systems since the 1960’s and I find that the vast majority of manufacturing companies have great problems with implementing these systems as the ERP systems are trying to duplicate manufacturing systems which are very complex. If I hear another senior manager saying he only wants a simple system for a complicated situation I will scream! One of the problems with manufacturing is that they have many informal sub-systems and the ERP/Consultants miss them and consequently the ERP system does not generally help the company. Finally, to implement ERP systems can take masses of implementation effort which can amount to about 100- man years for complicated manufacturing companies.

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