If only we could eliminate end users

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If only we could eliminate end users

The human dimension is probably an organization’s biggest weakness and its biggest strength. From an information access perspective ultimately people are the end users of information and interpret the information available to make decisions. How they use the information presents the dilemma of how human behavior can enable or undermine interoperability. One of the goals of a net-centric environment is to share information but end users need to know that information is available and can access it based on their security level and the security level of the content. Therefore the question of usability must be considered at the beginning of systems planning.

During most systems planning, the end user is the most critical success factor and entails usability design and subsequent training. Unfortunately, it has been proven that the end user is reluctant to change and typically will not enter metadata, will add erroneous metadata, or incomplete metadata. In applications such as records management or identification of PHI, PII, OPSEC the results can prove disastrous.

Net-centric interoperability as well as information security is entrusted to the same people. Without relevant information, knowledgeable, global decisions are unlikely. If the user’s motivation can’t be changed, governance cannot be accomplished. In the end user’s defense they are often over-burdened with cumbersome constraints to accurately tag content. But what they don’t see is the value from a global perspective of the effects of their changes or lack of changes. Security and interoperability are not foremost in their mind when they are doing their daily routine and do not understand what is gained or what is lost.

Removing the end-user from the tagging process removes the ambiguity in the tagging process. It also enables content to be related in a meaningful way without end user involvement. This enhances the value of knowledge far beyond the original design intent and expands the value of content to be accessed and used by multiple stakeholders who may or may not have known the content existed. This also transforms the content into a knowledge asset as the data can be trusted, reliable, and is correct. This ability to generate metadata enables the sharing of information but the lack of metadata guarantees that the data will be difficult to share, if at all. Comprehensive metadata that can capture the meaning of content improves decision making across the global organization.

Eliminating the human dimension also translates into reduced risk, increased productivity, compliance – all of which represent hard dollars to the organization.  Is it easy to accomplish?  Perhaps not, as the human dimension are also the organizers and implementers.  Once, again, if we could only remove people from the process everything would work just fine.