Precision in IT is very important. IT doesn’t really work well with things that are ill-defined.

But things in reality most things are loose. People are imprecise, data is loose, and options kept open.

There is value in options, but options rarely create value in information technology. While not all of options payoff in real life, keeping your options open in database systems is a losing strategy.

Obviously, some systems are better than others at handling optionality. These systems are designed to change over time as new information becomes available. But where does the new information come from? Who adds it and when? And are you are working with the latest info?

Real time tracking systems are amazing when they work, and they work most of the time. But even the most robust systems breakdown. A sensor stops transmitting a signal. A database goes offline for a short period of time. A dead cell phone battery halfway around the world can cause a parent’s imagination to run wild.

Expectations for IT are extremely high. The expectation is that there is accurate status information available at all times. This demands precise information, robust architecture and reliable hardware.  At one point in time, Federal Express probably had the most amazing tracking system in the world, but today its systems seem archaic.  “Out for Delivery” seems completely inadequate when compared to Uber’s tracking and mapping system.

While Federal Express handles many more packages than Uber carries passengers, the tracking expectation is set by Uber.  Information habits changed. 

Meeting this high standard puts stress on a lot of systems, but the biggest stress is on the human systems that feed and extraction information from this loop. The precision in IT is created because real time actions are tracked automatically without much, if any, human interaction. This is one of the contradictions of our time.