Who is AIS? Who is AIS?
  
Where do Information Systems Start?


15 Aug 2000

Software as Alchemy or Science?

Model Driven Development

Best
(and worst)
Design Practices

Lemons, Lemmings,
and Red Herrings

Copyright 2000 Applied
Information
Science

The information systems industry is awash with competing and conflicting "methodologies" for discovering, specifying, modeling, and constructing software. Having studied, reviewed, utilized, taught, and even invented a number of the currently practiced approaches to software development, we are stunned by their unsuitability to the tasks. Therefore we have, as we often do, retreated to first principles to consider an approach which can predictably yield the quality of applications we intend to offer.

Searching for the "motivation", in academic terms, of information systems, we asked "Where do information systems start?" Many people would quickly answer "With a desire to make business processes more efficient." While automating processes may be most of what we do, it is not ultimately why we do it. The reasons a business needs an information system are the same reasons it needs desks or trucks or telephones: to generate profit, to increase shareholder value.

Where do Systems Start?On reflection, we are convinced that all information processing, in fact all conscious activity of all living things, is motivated by the need (or desire, which is often confused with need) to attain some measurable value level.

If the above reflections are accurate, then information systems are fundamentally about measurable values: dimensions, quantities, rates, vectors, durations, differences, ad nauseum. All activities ("processes") are about achieving certain measures of values. An event occurs when some value crosses a preset threshold – in other words, when some value comparison becomes true.