Enterprise Resource Planning Systems: New transparency, new opacity

Aktivität: Vorträge und GastvorlesungenKonferenzvorträgeForschung

Lisa Conrad - Sprecher*in

This paper emerges from my ongoing research on the software company SAP and its widely adopted product, enterprise resource planning software (ERP). Software of this kind and especially those packages offered by SAP have become the standard means of coordination in large and medium-sized companies as well as increasingly in the public sector. One of the central arguments for introducing these complex and costly systems is the increase of transparency that they are said to bring about. ERP systems are framed as tools for creating new kinds of visibilities and for giving access to previously hidden actions and correlations. However, while this may well be true, ERP systems can also be regarded as involving a new kind of opacity. Due to their intricate, multilayered architecture and the high level of tech versatility that running and maintaining them implies, ERP systems can turn into means for hiding certain activities. In my contribution to the panel, I would like to flesh out these two tendencies of transparency and opacity. While the former is very present when it comes to digital devices of data gathering and data aggregation, the latter - the idea that these devices can also serve obfuscation - is less often discussed. The topic is of course related to questions of power: Whose actions are made transparent and who is able to hide their doing in some dark corner of the software? What are the battles fought over being watched and controlled vs. being invisible and autonomous?

(Panel G05: Seeing with data and devices Location Bowland North Seminar Room 10 Date and Start Time 27 Jul, 2018 at 09:00 Sessions 2)


Conference of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology - EASST 2018: Meetings – Making Science, Technology and Society together


Lancaster, Großbritannien / Vereinigtes Königreich

Veranstaltung: Konferenz