As with buildings, the term “architecture” when applied to information refers to an overall logic. A chimney, roof and rooms are hard to live in if they’re scattered all over the ground. The same applies to information: without cohesion between its various components, attributes, functions, design and uses, it is experienced as senseless chaos, uncomfortable clutter or even a necessary evil. On the contrary, when well thought-out, information adds quality to an organization’s day-to-day activities and thus is a source of value.
Architecture of a dwelling
- Functions: sleep, food preparation/storage, bathing/grooming, leisure, movement
- Design: style, ergonomics
- Means: $$$, expertise, materials, technologies
- Constraints: lot size, building code
- Implementation: foundation, structure, pipes and systems, finishes
- Functions: services/activities, evidence, strategies, learning
- Design: navigation, research
- Means: $$$, expertise, processes, technology
- Constraints: policies, culture, regulations, $$$
- Implementation: foundation, structure, relations, integration
If information architecture can be likened to a building that functions well and is pleasant to be in, information governance is like the authority who ensures that a group of buildings form a working, efficient and effective city.
Information governance is generally implemented by a group of people accountable for the proper informational conduct of an organization’s teams. Such a group must look beyond the silo mentality to get a sense of the organization’s information assets, the better to grow and protect them. Healthy information governance is not unlike urban planning: as with designing a development, the balance between individual and common interests must be constantly weighed.
Gartner defines information governance as “an accountability framework” which includes “the processes, roles and policies, standards and metrics that ensure the effective and efficient use of information in enabling an organization to achieve its goals.”
– ARMA International (2013)
The notion of the information asset positions information as an exploitable resource liable to create value as opposed to the passive recording facts or data.
Information assets include data, documents, images, sound recordings and more. Rendering these assets usable entails various levers such as processes, technologies and the people who create or use them.