Visualisation and Business Outcomes

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David Norfolk has responsibility for Development and Governance at Bloor, and these came together this quarter with the release of his report on MID’s Innovator for Business Analysts, a flexible modelling tool for the business analyst role (distributed by Aptero Solutions). This, at one level, is a OMG BPMN tool but it is more than that. It supports a lot of what business analysts need to do to optimise business process (not just the drawing of diagrams) and, most importantly, helps them to communicate this to all affected – and to achieve the buy-in needed if change is to be effective.

He is now seeing an increasing focus on developing automated business services, measured by success in achieving business outcomes rather than just developing computer systems. At IBM Innovate this year, for example, IBM’s product pitches uniformly stressed the business outcomes achieved instead of merely technical victories. He thinks that modelling is a key facilitator for this. Managed properly (which means giving people different views into a single model, as appropriate to their needs and experience), models provide a ‘lingua franca’ for all the stakeholders in a development, from both the business and technical communities. More than this, if (as David believes) good governance includes the effective management of IT resources to deliver business outcomes, modelling helps to deliver this.

Incidentally, David also writes about mainframe technologies – because (whatever is fashionable) these can be an efficient way of delivering automated business services without wasting the planet’s resources. Besides, he says, “I’ve been hearing about the imminent death of the mainframe every year since the mid-1980s – as it is still here, it must be doing something right!”

Modelling is really part of visualising the complexity of the real world in a way that helps people to manage this complexity. This probably goes along with David’s other interest in photography as a way of highlighting the simple patterns and beauty present in the real world, which people look at every day but seldom ‘see’, in any real sense. He talks of “beauty in the mundane” and “going beyond the obvious”, both important if photographs are to be more than records of pleasant times and postcards of pretty scenery or pretty people. He recently gained his ARPS distinction with the Royal Photographic Society with a panel of 15 abstract and semi-abstract prints illustrating the beauty that can be found by the road warrior in conference centres and hotel lobbies – according to the chair of the assessors, probably a first for an ARPS topic!