Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dots Connection: Information Architecture vs. Data Modeling vs. Business Analysis

Connecting Information Dots take Strategy, Methodology and Talent.

Information is one of the most valuable assets in organizations today, how to manage them well is at every IT leader’s agenda. First of all, the relevant concept clarification may help connect the information dots more seamlessly.

Information Architecture: There are three focus areas of an Information Architecture (IA), with different IAs specializing in different areas.

1) The Front-End IA is most frequently seen, with the closest relationship to UX.
2) The Back-End IA deals with the structuring and relationship of information as data so that the information can be presented in a useful manner to the user. 
3) The Middle IA deals with the infrastructure of getting information as data from the back to the front and deals a great deal with transformations, styles, and system to system interfaces (as opposed to GUIs).

All these three fields compliment each other and overlap from time-to-time depending on the work structure in an organization, but they do differ in some aspects. Information architecture is structural design technique of the various shared environments, more at the user facing level, for how the information could be organized to make it searchable, find-able and usable by the user, and how these data interrelationships make sense to the user,  .

Data modeling is a technique to structure the data and manage it at the source, it’s when you architect and organize the data in useful tables or data repositories which are easier to maintain, more at the system level. If you need to generate a report about the user dynamics and other attributes, these organized tables really do the trick to provide insight

Business analysis relies heavily on the business requirements that change overtime to achieve strategic goals, with scoping, prioritizing and preparing of business cases etc. Something new is introduced in an organization that is estimated to generate good revenue but needs change in the way the data is structured or how the user gets the information, a business analyst would document this change with enough detail that would allow the team to move ahead in the implementation.

There’re many data related tasks Information Architects and Business Analysts need to work closely to accomplish, for example, in order to build enterprise’s Q & A information portals, they need to catalog the questions--or the categories of questions--an end user might ask of the data. Which questions do the end user's boss or management feel are most important? Which questions does the end user think are most important? How might the general questions connect to the particular questions? What would a conceptual map of the question set look like? 

Through connecting these dots smoothly, information management can drive transformation from data to information, from information to knowledge, from knowledge to insight, and from insight to wisdom.


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