We have always had information around us, and it likely always existed in large volumes. It was just presented in different formats such as paper or hard copy documents, postal mail, telegrams and wired messages, verbal conversations and recordings, posters and public notices, pictures and so on. A lot of data is still disconnected, and a lot of it still exists in silos.
Even if data is connected, we may not have a good understanding about it or what it really means, which can prevent us from seeing its value. This scenario recalls the broken phone game in which one person whispers a message to another person, who whispers it to yet another person and so on. When it reaches the last person, the message may be completely different from the one relayed by the first person.
What has changed in the way in which we extract value from data? We talk about analytics and new insights, but the true question that needs to be answered is what are we going to do with the information? How will it help us to improve our business, our life and everything around us?
Consider the Internet of Things. We have objects connected with other objects, and they can communicate in intelligent ways. The Internet of Things is becoming a big information space that provides constant streams of data. And the collected data can reveal more information about individuals, their interests, their locations and many other particulars. Yet, much of the Internet of Things data we collect today is not used at all. Moreover, the data that is used is not fully utilized. We see only a small picture.
We don’t aggregate data efficiently, and the insights we generate may just provide a different representation of analytical reporting without triggering any future actions or business automation. In many cases, we do collect data with the intent for future processing and analytics, but it remains in the system and often forgotten. So how much information is actually useful?
Volume, velocity and variety of data increase the richness of the insights we can derive. At some point, information became a company asset and essential to the programs and services we deliver. But we really need to understand the information and know what to do with it. We all are looking for solutions that provide real-time analytics using integrated data from devices, ecosystems, people and other participants. Streaming unstructured data can be processed as we receive it and analyzed (on the edge) to generate structured data that will be stored. And based on the analytical insights, our processes can be changed for the better. But to reach this outcome, we do need a thorough understanding of the business and the underlying information needs, how to structure the information resources to support those needs and how to manage and maintain the architectures.
Developing an agile information architecture helps to establish the decision-making principles and standards for using information as a business resource, support business requirements, enable the enforcement of information governance and integrate and automate business processes. It can define the fundamental specification that connects the flow of information throughout its lifecycle.
To develop a successful information architecture and meaningful insights, we need to enforce collaboration across business units, IT, the CDO office and other parts of the organization.