BP Britannia House.

25.11.82

BCS information Retrieval Specialist Group Seminar on Integrated Text and Data Management Systems.

I am sorry to have to report that this expensive and over-subscribed event turned out to be little more than an extended commercial for BP's super new all integrated management information system and for the (horrible IBM) systems analysis package they used to create it. Even the three non-BP speakers allowed onto the platform eventually provided little more than an object lesson on how to sell ancient data management concepts to the managerial class, though they did at least address the ostensible subject of the seminar. Other than that, it was all about identifying BUSINESS OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGY and drawing up matrixes showing which Business Procedure corresponded with which Business Objective, enlivened only by the odd bloomer ("Is the company properly organised to meet its informational requirements?"), three times over. The other three speakers were marginally more interesting. Roger Tagg (a fellow DBAWG person) discussed how disparate the elements of an integrated system would have to be, to include elements such as 'confravision', 'colour graphics' and what the French call 'bureautique' (i.e. office Automation). His type of systems analysis, he clearly opined, was more than equal to the task, if the software wasn't. The second interloper was Ed Tozer (a fellow DMUG person) who did a reasonable job of plotting the available software along such unfamiliar axes as 'type of user' (management/specialist/clerical) and 'type of query' (high/low volume, un/structured, ad hoc...). He also asserted that within a few years we would all have a mip on our desks, if not in our pockets. The third interloper, a fellow academic from Newcastle, was similarly apocalyptic about various new types of chip, expert systems, join machines etc. The day was not however a complete waste of time: over the (also awful) lunch I met the newly appointed head of ICL's IDMS design team and impressed on her our distaste for being compelled to use DDS, requirements for Fortran etc. etc.