Friday, January 22, 2010

What impedes the development of Information Architecture

Prompted by: Forrester: Information Architecture Matters - Survey of enterprise architects finds information architecture is immature and undervalued.

I think the obstacles of IA is the preponderance of people involed who see data in relational database terms (or in terms of other implementation methods and standards) rather than in terms of the business questions, knowledge and information.

One sees similiar, but perhaps lessor, issues with business architecture where the people involved want to see things in terms of Use cases and techncial process execution (e.g. BPEL) - rather than focusing business capabilities, functions and process.

The higher levels are intrinsically less transient and not really related to technology per se.

In both cases the boil-the-ocean problem arises from starting at the bottom of the pyramid rather than the top. The absence of a sound top level means the framework for progressively elaborating lower levels as a by-product of execution projects doesn't exist (or isn't used).

Forrester proposes a process or methodology solution - but the solution in changing the people i.e. changing the behavior of people in the roles; or changing the people who inhabit the roles.

It seems to me nothing much has changed since I wrote this

In this I identified some things:
- Information management strategies are going to have to improve.
- Most organisations can't even provide a high level map of their information - it is buried in silos (maintained by a technical clergy with arcane interests)
- Most organizations don't have a handle on the relationship between business information and the underlying ICT systems that implement the data
- Most organisations can't explain what information is associated with what: process, service, rule etc.
- Most CIOs can't have candid conversations with their business counterparts about what the real issues are associated with managing todays data or dealing with more data.

I suggsted some things that should be done
- a knowledge base which could act as hub
- the boundaries between the hub and the various spokes (e.g. ER modellers, XML modellers etc.)
- inventory data and usage
- benchmark against industry Reference Models
- defining architectural principles and goverance approaches
- analyzing business information context
- develop optimisation programmes

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