Enough with the Ecosystems!

Where does this word "ecosystem" or rather its use in the particular context of our industry, come from and what, if anything, does it actually mean? The first time we encountered it was in a video press briefing with Sudipta Bhattacharya last November when he was still merely president of Wonderware, which leads us to suspect that the infection started in Wonderware and has now spread with swine flu like efficiency to the whole of Invensys Operations Management. Perhaps, given Bhattacharya's antecedents, its true origins are in SAP. What is certain is that the whole thing is getting out of hand. As if the title were not bad enough, the press release announcing OpsManage'09 / WonderWorld (see page 10) included no less than four mentions: "its open partner ecosystem," "a global ecosystem of more than 3,000 partners, " "a variety of Invensys ecosystem partners"and "its global partner ecosystem. " And it's spreading, turning up only last week in Emerson's Human Centered Design Institute release, albeit in an entirely different context, referring to the "ecosystem of a plant," which sounds like something to do with the nature reserve down by the waste water treatment plant. It's time this stopped  before we're all doing it. A small prize for the most fatuous, meaningless, contradictory or just downright silly usage of ecosystem in our industry, with a possible mention for the culprit on Walt Boyes' Wall of Shame!

A big thank you to all those who sponsored Andrew Bond and Paul Butler's walk along the 84 miles of Hadrian's Wall across the north of England from Newcastle on the east coast to Bowness on Solway on the west. The walk was duly completed in the six days allotted, all in glorious late summer sunshine, and raised some £900 for the Amapondo Children's Project in South Africa. The  route passes through Sycamore Gap where, as film buffs will recognise, the solitary sycamore tree growing against the Roman wall appeared alongside Kevin Costner in "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves," leading the author of the most popular guide to the walk to comment, a trifle unkindly, that "despite the distinct disadvantage of being a tree, it still managed to appear less wooden than its co-star."

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