Flexibility and power

Brent Simmons draws out the difference between Flexibility Vs Power in software:

Flexibility is the ability to change how software works; power is the ability to do more with less effort

Historically we have been sucked into believing that “Flexibility = Power” and the complexity of most ELNs shows the result. As Brent mentions, iOS and the like are causing us to understand that the benefits come from Power – that’s how we deliver the return on investment. Flexibility can distract from that.

I suspect in the future we’ll see a lot more focused, powerful systems which allow us to concentrate on the job in hand rather than having to figure out how to configure all the flexibility we thought we wanted.

When you add a new App to your iPad/iPhone you are generally up and running within seconds. Imagine if that was the user experience for ELNs…

2 Replies to “Flexibility and power”

  1. Flexibility and power will always need to be analyzed and trade off decisions made. Unless a lab operates exactly the same as the software designers intended the ELN to be used, a decision will need to be made to either change the lab process or to configure the software. So, if a lab isn’t willing to undergo massive business process re-engineering, the iPhone app analogy will never come to pass.

  2. @mdb – I think it depends a lot on the level of detail that’s involved, but I take your point for tools which get very detailed.

    There are a number of processes in a lab which are fairly standardised, or can be supported at a high level. In those cases iPhone-style “it just works” should be possible. For more specialised stuff, I agree with you, there’s going to need to be some configuration.

    The interesting thing is how the iPhone/iPad is changing our expectations of what’s possible.

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