Development and usage of information architecture : a management perspective
Despite its emergence more than a decade ago, information architecture remains a problematic concept. A study of relevant literature suggests significant advocacy with inadequate supporting evidence on its existence, application or value. The available limited research evidence generally presents unsatisfactory information architecture experience. Notwithstanding the unresolved issues and reported unsatisfactory experience, information architecture continues to be referenced as an important information management issue. Hence this doctoral study sought to investigate it. In the first stage, the study set out to clarify the position of information architecture via a large scale postal survey of 294 organisations. The survey found that information architecture is being used in association with IS planning, particularly in organisations which position IT as a strategic resource, but perceptions on its two conventional key components vary. While application architecture is viewed as being useful for IS planning, corporate data model is seen as being more relevant to data management and project implementation. Both models are regarded as tools facilitating integrated information systems development. In the second stage of research, case studies on 6 large organisations were conducted to gain an in-depth understanding of successful information architecture practice. The investigation reaffirmed application architecture's position as an IS planning tool and cast further doubt on corporate data model's role not only in IS planning but also in IS practice as a whole. Business area/project data model was identified as the pragmatic high-level data model for both application/database development and data management. A major finding of the case studies was on business system architecture, a pictorial model depicting IT in its business setting. It is seen as being of value for integrating IS planning with strategy development and business planning - a tool for fusing IT with the business. The case studies concluded that the value and effectiveness of information architecture is dependent on the targeting of its components - business system architecture, application architecture and business area/project data model - in terms of tasks and recipients. The case for a holistic approach to business/IS planning and implementation is currently being argued by a number of leading management and IS scholars. This thesis embraces the holistic approach and positions the (redefined) information architecture as a valuable tool in its implementation.