A Quick Look at the Importance of Information Architecture

With all the buzz at the Open Group Conference in
Newport Beach
this year around Big Data I thought I would take a small step
back and write a short post that looks at the importance and the linkages of Information
Architecture (or in TOGAF terms Data Architecture).

The importance of information architecture cannot be overemphasized. As architects we look
at solutions a bit differently than others in IT by focusing on solving
problems business first or top down. However, sometimes we get caught in the
trap of focusing on the most tangible aspects of our architecture while losing
track of the aspects that truly drive our architectural decisions.

Information architecture serves as that vital bridge from
the business architecture world to application and technology  architecture.  This is shown below, from both the widely
accepted Enterprise Architecture from NIST
and from the Open Group’s TOGAF Architecture Development Method
, you will see Information Architecture as the glue between business
and solution architecture.

Mike The Architect Blog - NIST and TOGAF 9

As shown above, information and data constitutes the most
basic and foundational of all information units employed by a solution.
Solutions are created to manage data and to help transform data into
information. But data is consumed in different ways by people, process and
technologies. While it’s a little dated, I really like how NIST puts this all
together in one model.

Having a clearly defined information architecture provides concrete
direction to the architecture. It provides a translation layer between the
business architecture and all other views. The Information view does this by
first identifying the required information that provides clear direction on how
the information should be created, manipulated, and analyzed. Through this articulation
of information the view will then identify the required technical capabilities
and specific technologies required.

A well-built Information Architecture should be able to
address how your architecture will provide:

  • Insight into how information will flow
  • Classification of information
  • How the business and applications should use and
    operate information
  • Map of information entities
  • Pathway for the creation of application


Cloud computing architectures provide a tangible example of
why this is so important. To really determine what solutions can / should go to
the cloud we must first understand the data aspects. This ranges from functional
/ non-functional requirements to risk management and compliance. These aspects
have the ability to stop you in your tracks, and they are all data centric. 

0 thoughts on “A Quick Look at the Importance of Information Architecture”

  1. ” But data is consumed in different ways by people, process and technologies.”
    And it’s important to understand those different ways so that your architecture can handle everyone’s needs and expectations. What one department sees as critical information another might view as secondary. Your architecture needs to deliver exactly what everyone needs when they need it.


  2. @Nancy: Agreed. It’s important we look at how we satisfy those needs and expectations in the context of business outcomes. Without becoming overly academic or unrealistic, sometimes we talk in technology outcomes BUT they should have very real business outcomes associated (ex: investments in tablet technology for a mobile workforce to reduce total cost of ownership, increase employee satisfaction and retention challenges)
    Make sense?
    Thanks for stopping by and enriching the conversation.


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