Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Exoskeletal Software: The Analyst's View

Dr John D Cook (2011) draws an intriguing contrast between how analysts and programmers view software:
Analysts use expert software developed by programmers in order to produce business intelligence... [However,] there’s a major divide between the way scientists [including analysts] and programmers view the software they write... Scientists see their software as a kind of exoskeleton, an extension of themselves... The software may do the heavy lifting, but the scientists remain actively involved in its use. The software is a tool, not a self-contained product... [Conversely,] programmers see their software as something they will hand over to someone else, more like building a robot than an exoskeleton. Programmers believe it’s their job to encapsulate intelligence in software. If users have to depend on programmers after the software is written, the programmers didn’t finish their job.
I personally know more than a few analysts (myself included) who view their software as an exoskeletal extension of who they are and what they do. The exoskeleton metaphor speaks volumes about the motivations of analysts who abhor being separated from their preferred software applications. For these reasons, I advocate matching software tools to the analyst rather than the analyst to the software -- the implications for productivity and practice are immense.

Source: Cook, J D (2011, July 21), Software Exoskeletons, The Endeavor.

1 comment:

Shrinivas said...


Let's look at it as follows:

Scientist community is just another category of users,like finance professionals, operations professionals etc.
Software meant for aiding finance professionals work could be used meaningfully by finance professionals & not (easily / effectively) by others. Same applies to operations professionals. Therefore, you can extend the same logic to the softwares meant for scientists (& their point of view). In which case Dr.Cook's argument gets challenged.

Shrinivas K

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