Information Architecture (IA) models information and knowledge, and specifies architectural components and processes for information and knowledge management.
Some of the IA activities include:
- Analyze processes that use and create information
- Analyze information
- Create data models, metamodels, taxonomies, ontologies, and other information modeling concepts to model information about physical and abstract things.
- Analyze quality of data
- Design user interfaces for managing information
There are two main types of IA:
- Enterprise Information Architecture (EIA)
- Large Scale Information Architecture (LSIA)
Enterprise Information Architecture (EIA) provides support for applications of information architecture in enterprises. Information and knowledge is the foundation of any enterprise which EIA is responsible for. EIA has to operate in the context of enterprise processes.
Understanding of enterprise’s strategy and goals is an important factor for a successful application of EIA.
While it is based on the same principles as the EIA, LSIA besides the EIA common activities also addresses large scale issues mostly related to service oriented (free of charge or commercial) Internet applications that manage very large data sets that are concurrently accessed by the large number of users.
Why Is It Important to Understand Business Strategy and Goals?
Detailed understanding of the overall business strategy is one of the key factors of the successful EIA. Enterprise Architects conduct research to identify needs and issues from staff what is then used to identify goals and scope of the projects. Enterprise Information Architects should provide inputs into the business strategy development. These inputs belong to enterprise information and how its management affects the overall business strategy. Integrating business strategy into EIA is one of the important architectural aspects. Enterprise Information Architecture as its name says puts the enterprise not the specific project into the center of its scope. It provides an enterprise-centric model for modeling, managing, and analyzing enterprise information.
The business strategy of the enterprise should be based on detailed analysis of the enterprise processes and processes that shape current and future directions of the market the enterprise supports. This way the enterprise will make sure that it understands the current functioning of its business in a context of the current market. Based on that, enterprises come up with strategies very much needed to clearly communicate the next direction(s) of the enterprise.
Strategic goals and business objectives are communicated by the senior management of the enterprise. Enterprise Information Architects and other architects have to make sure that these goals and objectives are fully supported and articulated in the architecture of enterprise systems that will be providing support for the business strategy implementations.
Why Processes are Important?
Processes are fundamental concepts of any architecture on any level. Everything is a product of a process. A process can be of any type (i.e., business process, manufacturing process, social process, political process, natural process, etc.). Besides the overall enterprise strategy and clear understanding of directions, Enterprise Information Architects need detailed understanding of processes they have to support to be able to properly model, use, manage, and analyze information created and controlled by these processes. It is important that the managed information is modeled from the process-based context rather than from the disconnected no process based pure non-empirical information context.
IA needs an Information Architecture Framework (IAF) that enables a full integration of information over projects and enterprise systems. IAF provides a common established methodology and tools to model, manage, integrate, and analyze information. Information can be in both structured and un-structured form. Best practices and standards are also part of the framework. IAF itself is agnostic to any specific type of information architecture (i.e., enterprise or large scale).
Enterprise information management projects based on a solid EIA have to demonstrate measurable results. Everything should end up with a successful implementation of information management to support enterprise strategies and meet goals of enterprises. All these strategies and goals are related to people either in an internal enterprise context or an external enterprise context in the enterprise’s dealing with customers and partners. Metrics to measure the success have to be developed as well