2019-05-23 15:30 - 17:00 Thomas van Aquinostraat 1.0.35

“The revolutionary capabilities of (big) data is not big data itself, but the fact that this data can be combined” (e.g., VSNU Digital Society Research Agenda, 2017). Ever wondered why then you had to provide your credentials and describe your symptoms repeatedly when you visited the hospital, instead of it being centrally stored the first time and then being accessible to all care providers involved later on? Unless they were testing you for memory loss, chances are this was an example of lacking interoperability. Interoperability means that ICT infrastructure, software applications, information, work processes and organizational strategies are aligned so that data can be exchanged and used timely, accurately, real-time and effectively within and between organizations (Nictiz, 2018). A lack of interoperability not only creates serious safety, economic and health issues for society, but also hampers reaping the benefits from big data.

Establishing interoperability, however, is – as some practitioners claim - a quest for the Holy Grail. First, interoperability requires the development and implementation of robust (inter)national technical, semantic and operational standards that are accepted by all involved. As standards serve as ‘rule to the many’, having a say in the design of these standards is a process imbued with power tactics of involved stakeholders. Secondly, implementing standards by no means guarantees that (empowered) actors want to or can perform accordingly. Local complexity often requires flexible use of digital technology, as it can contradict with (professional) values, moral beliefs, or related organizational routines. In my talk, I address digital technology from an organizational perspective. Based on practice/process theory and socio-technical literature, I will emphasize the taken-for-grantedness of interoperability/standardization, and its unanticipated and unwanted side effects. Further interdisciplinary investigation is urgently needed to establish a deeper understanding of how big data and digital technology radically change how we organize, perform and experience work.