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Simplicity in IT: a Chance for a New Kind of Design and Process Science


The philosophy of simplicity as a key value, underlying and driving design and decisions, is strategically important yet poorly understood and rarely systematically applied in IT. Instead, design principles attempt to focus predominantly on increased functionality within thinly disguised complexity, often at the expense of life cycle costs and total cost of ownership issues (e.g., training, system malfunctions, system upgrades). Designers and researchers alike must be challenged in their current thinking in order to make salient these trade-offs and impacts. This special issue presents five points of view of how simplicity focused work can provide intrinsic and long lasting gains in improving the philosophy, methods, and tools behind the practice of design and processes in IT systems. With the increased use of IT in socially critical areas as healthcare, transportation, banking, and international telecommunication infrastructure, society can no longer afford systems that do not perform as specified, causing costs and grief, and are designed in such a fashion that system modifications turn out to be administratively and economically infeasible. We examine here aspects of simplicity in the domains of design, deployment and provision, and evolution along the IT lifecycle.