Information Technology as Coordination Infrastructure


Wieringa, R.J. (2006) Information Technology as Coordination Infrastructure. [Report]

open access
Abstract:Business information technology is traditionally viewed as information provision technology. In this view, organizations use their IT to implement databases that provide people with information when they want it. This view is persistent even though information provision is never an end in itself but always has the further purpose to support the coordination of activities of people. The role if IT as coordination technology became more prominent in the 1980s with the advent of network technology, that allowed activities across different businesses to be coordinated. This trend has accellerated since the growth of Internet usage, and today IT is used to support an increasingly varied range of processes performed by a variety of partners that do not all have a hierarchical relation to each other. This makes it difficult to analyze requirements for IT support and specify IT solutions: Business processes may not be well-defined, and interests of different businesses may clash. This report argues that to deal with this in requirements engineering and IT solution specification, business information technology should not be viewed as IT support for business processes but as IT support for the coordination of activities in one or more businesses. We will identify three basic coordination mechanisms, namely coordination by price, by management, and by shared norms, and for each of these mechanisms, we will identify requirements for IT support. The advent of flexible and standardized networking technology has facilitated the creation of novel coordination mechanisms within these three general paradigms, and we will give an inventory of generalized coordination mechanisms made possible by current IT. Finally, we will draw conclusions for requirements engineering methods for IT support for each of the coordination mechanisms identified by the framework.
Item Type:Report
Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS)
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