How do you design IT for organizations that can´t afford IT? – You don’t!

Today, I had a very good conversation with my fellow researcher Fredrik, about designing tiny collaborative systems. We ended up in a discussion on how do you design IT for organizations that cannot afford making investments in IT. Such organizations are in numbers more than one might think. duh? We have NGO’s, grass-root organizations, small communities and even teams of volunteers. So the tricky question is how could we ( designers and developers around the globe) design IT that they can afford.
The conversation today ended in the simple answer; You don’t.
It would probably be a very big mistake to think that these organizations would be interested in IT. Instead they are interested in use. Namely the use of IT. They would probably give a damn about the gourgous internal architectural design, the latest pieces of software components and so on. Their focus is probably more directed on the direct value they get from (here it comes) using the technology. But wait wait wait. What is new about this? Not much…. But the sad fact is that too many people is trying to sell too much technology to too many organizations that could not care less. So what I am trying to argue here is that we need a change of mindset. When we discuss a certain problem with IT-architects and developers, we should focus on the use or the output of the technology and not the technology in itself. But we all know how nice it is to switch into jargon and name-drop this and that design pattern, P2P-software or even take a serious debate on the topic dot-net vs java or something similar. If we are going to design applications and systems for crisis response, perhaps we should focus more on the IT-use and not the technology itself. Or do we have too many brilliant pieces of software out there, providing too much user experience making the people screaming for technology? Personally, I haven’t seen that.
By the way, I am really looking forward to meet some great people at ISCRAM 2009.

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