The QWERTY syndrome

For many organizations, SOA will mean overlaying QWERTY -- or quirky -- business processes.

An article posted today by ZDNet's John Borland caught my interest.  That is, news of a new proposal to replace the QWERTY keyboard with a more logical layout. Since we depend on our typing skills more than ever to get things done (at least, until voice-based, pen-based and gesture-activated input technology catch on), anything that can improve our productivity in this regard is welcome.

 

But, alas, folks have been fighting the QWERTY model for years, to little avail.  For years, the Dvorak keyboard (pictured here) has been promoted as an alternative -- which places the most frequently typed letters -- A, O, U, E, I, and so forth -- in the home row. Both Microsoft (through an alternative keyboard layout) and Apple have sold Dvorak-inspired keyboards for a number of years.

Which brings me around to the topic of this post (and you probably were wondering what keyboards have to do with the topic of this Weblog, service-oriented architecture). The Dvorak Keyboard

Namely, QWERTY is the ultimate example of a baked-in business process that won't respond at all to any technology, or even rational thinking, thrown at it. Even the largest vendors with the most resources can't defeat QWERTY.

In a recent post, I alluded to a survey that showed the difficulties SOA early adopters were having in rebuilding business processes.  Many business processes are completely baked into the business (or into legacy technology), and require solutions beyond the scope of a technology fix. Lots of user education, or re-education, and a rethinking on the part of the business in general may be required.

Yes, SOA will deliver a lot of benefits. But, for now, the organizations that are effectively implementing SOA have a corporate culture in place that is already agile and open to change from the ground up. Now it's time for the hard work -- there are plenty of processes that may require plenty of buy-in to change. For many organizations, SOA will mean overlaying QWERTY -- or quirky -- business processes.

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