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Pearls, Swine and Sow's Ears: Interface Research in a Multinational Bank

Chalmers M.


Inside the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), as with many other corporations, timely access to the right information determines the success or failure of work goals. Ubilab is the UBS information technology research lab, and it develops new information tools and advises on technology trends for the bank. New technology, however, bears a risk of unbalancing established practices. Bank employees such as traders and analysts see the potential of new technologies but their reactions to the pressure to be up to date with the latest technology may not be what a researcher expects. They cannot afford to take excessive risks, are used to relatively basic technology, and are fully occupied handling their everyday work. They may consider researchers' `pearls of wisdom' to be unsuitable, irrelevant or unhelpful. Their work practices are advancing, as of course is database system and interaction research, but these directions are not the same and this divergence weakens both sides. By pointing out some of the contrasts and similarities between everyday information use and mainstream database interaction, I hope to spark off discussion about this separation and what can be done to reduce it.

[Cha96c] Chalmers M.. Pearls, Swine and Sow's Ears: Interface Research in a Multinational Bank. In Proc. British National Conference on Databases, LNCS 1094, pages 222-229, Springer Verlag, Edinburgh, July 1996.

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