Monday, April 13, 2015

"Big Data's Big Dig"

That's what the Boston Globe called the 19-year, $75 million effort of the Massachusetts Trial Court to computerize its operations.  A story in the Sunday, April 12, 2015 Globe reviewed the trajectory of that undertaking.  While some progress has been made, much is left to be done.

Although the various registries of deeds in Massachusetts have done a pretty good job of computerizing operations (the Middlesex North Registry, for example, has every record from 1629 to the present freely available to the public on our website and receives more than 40% of its new recordings electronically), many government offices seem slow to automate operations.  I suspect that many businesses have similar problems, only a business faces less public scrutiny than does a government office so we hear more about failures in the public sector.

My theory for this technology tardiness is that many of the people still in charge are from the pre-computer era and lack a reasonable amount of aptitude when it comes to technology.  In such cases, too much is left to the IT people who, while they may understand technology, might not fully grasp the entire operation of the enterprise.  Computers are, after all, just another tool for a company or government office.  Unless they are integrated into normal operations, they will never be used to their full potential.  Fortunately, this situation does have a limited life-span.  As people who have grown up with computers ascend to top leadership positions, this upper management digital divide will become very rare.

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