Can we imagine life today without software systems? Software is essential for most of our daily tasks at offices, schools, hospitals, universities, factories, even at home and entrainment facilities. Almost any system or business today has a software component that makes it running. Transportation vehicle, home appliances, industry machines, critical infrastructures are software-intensive systems. Software already automated hundreds of thousands of human tasks and business processes. Massive data is being captured, stored and retrieved using sophisticated data-intensive software systems that are increasing the humans capacity to understand complex and sophisticated environmental and biological phenomena. Software helps humans to making the right decisions such as predicting hurricanes and discovering treatment to genetic diseases. Many products are being designed and manufactured using software including ferries, medical devices and even our daily meals. While providing a unifying platform for connecting humans, software systems and processes, the Internet of services and things is creating the largest system of software systems, we, the humans has never created.
Are, we, the humans able to use, master and control software systems? Whatever is its size and complexity, a software system is developed, used, managed and controlled by humans with diverse capabilities, experiences and needs. It should be easy to use and learn, a condition required for the success of software systems and their business added-values. Various studies show that the lack of commitment to usability and human factors are the key issues in software development. The Standing group reported that “United States spend more than $250 billion each year on software development of approximately 175,000 projects. It is ten time more any other products. The average cost of a software development project for a large company is $2,322,000; for a medium company, it is $1,331,000; and for a small company, it is $434,000. A great many of these projects fail. The Standish Group research survey shows a staggering 31.1% of projects will be cancelled before they ever get completed. Further results indicate 52.7% of projects will cost 189% of their original estimates”. The top three reasons of success or failures of software projects are the lack of end-user involvement, executive management support, and a clear statement of the requirements including usability, privacy, and these days sustainability.
The questions that bring us together are:
- How can we ensure that software will function in sustainable way if the context of use change?
- How, Why and When software can engage citizens, no only in collecting data but, also extracting information and transforming it to knowledge?
- How we, the software engineering community, should develop, research and even more think software systems as the key pillar of digital world?