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Non-fiction: ‘The Biology of Knowledge’

Max J. Pucher, Chief Architect of ISIS Papyrus, defines himself as an IT philosopher and argues the
point that many corporations find it very hard to define what their needs in terms of process
management are.

“Each document represents a process – says Max J. Pucher – and the process is equal to the document. ”

In a humorous sideline Max J. Pucher considers that it is impossible to exactly describe those IT process needs, because of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. In 1927, Heisenberg states that the simultaneous determination of two related quantities, for example the position and momentum of a particle, has an unavoidable uncertainty. This is the reason why we are unable to encode our daily corporate work into rigid rules, programming- or otherwise.
He suggests further that the inability to deal with today’s complexity in IT creates a fear of failure and
thus causes a tendency to conform to non-documented standards.
Information Technology gets more and more complex and causes a situation where the ability to evolve with our needs – and in fact to innovate – is lost, because new technology can obviously not conform to old technology standards.

He explains that this is a situation that he faces at most corporations. “I can’t change your company” – says Mr. Pucher – but you can. ”He requests that the vicious cycle of rising complexity of old-style programming – caused by the large IT companies – has come to an end.

The Human Aspect of IT
Max J. Pucher offers another insight into his vision by talking about the human needs of IT. Applications have to be created for the people who use it, the individual users, clerks and operators who struggle with government rules, management decisions, and customer service expectations every day.

Workflow proponents suggest that these process requirements can be encoded into RULES, which would thus improve the overall performance and quality of work performed. Pucher proposes that hard-coded rules cannot be used to control or improve human interaction because of the pattern matching and emotional functionality of the human brain. Pucher references brain-scientist Antonio Damasio, who discovered that human decisions are prepared by the rational mind but the final decision is an emotional one. Emotions can not be encoded into programs.

He proposes that a radical shift is needed to avoid further outsourcing of IT to low-cost countries. Large scale IT outsourcing is only a quick-and-dirty solution to the cost spiral of programming.

He claims that it is necessary to create a new paradigm of knowledge systems. A knowledge system does not contain data or information, but must use existing information patterns to suggest a course of action that will lead to a desired business result. Such systems do not exist today. IT does not have to make a choice between programming and human decision making and suggests that many document and business processes are a combination of coded rules and intuitive human decisions.

Interactive Process Discovery
Max J. Pucher introduces the concept of Interactive Process Discovery. He proposes a solution based on a Repository where all the data and information structures of a corporation are modelled. This enables the encoding of the rules that are known and makes dynamic processes simple to create and maintain. For the process decisions that are intuitive and can not be hard-coded, he proposes a User-Trained-Agent, based on machine learning software that collects decision pattern information as the user works. After a training phase the User-Trained-Agent executes the boring and repetitive jobs, and makes more time for those difficult decisions.

This is a concept that allows for continuous evolution of an IT system and breaks the expensive vicious cycle of analysis-coding-test-rollout-monitoring. Pucher is convinced that this approach can dramatically reduce the implementation time of complex process support systems. Once in use, the system will continuously be improved by the way the users work with it. It will be interesting to see how old-style It, will deal with a dramatic shift in technology as the one proposed by Pucher. But something will have to happen …

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© 2007-11 Max J. Pucher

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Max J. Pucher

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