Vertical Integration versus (horizontal) standardisation

Over on Enterprise Architecture Professional Journal I’ve just posted a column about ‘vertical integration’, where it comes from, how it drives certain developments (e.g. it is one of the drivers for the cloud) and how it is in conflict with years of established policy by IT departments.

The article also contains the first appearance of something I’ve been mulling about for a while already (and that is related to what was discussed in the post on this site about IT being the driver of increased complexity that creates the demand for Enterprise Architecture in the first place). This is the law of complexity-capacity exhaustion:

Capabilities deployed to lessen the impact of complexity on the human capacity to manage the landscape result in the deployment of more complexity until the limit of the capacity of humans to manage the landscape has again been reached.

In other words: every time we make something easier, we will do more of it until it is just as hard as before. Life doesn’t get easier. We just create more variation, more volume, etc., until it is as difficult for us as it was before.

Enjoy the story here.

Update Jan 10 2021: I read reactions on Hacker News to a recent post of mine. There someone mentioned that it looked like the Jevons Effect, which was first argued in 1865 regarding energy efficiency (coal use) in the Industrial Revolution. It seems that the law of complexity-capacity exhaustion is a modern version of this.

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