1. This is a really interesting viewpoint for exploring roles and stratifications for “information” professions and a great follow-up to James Robertson’s earlier Boxes and Arrows article.

    In larger enterprises, there tends to be more budget and infrastructure for lots of different people with different job titles, and more clearly defined roles and responsibilities. However, most organizations lack suffient resources to hire all these people, sometimes requiring, for example, IT professionals to also be information professionals in the IA sense.

    You wrote that EIAs should probably not be seen or take responsibility for being change agents. However, you also wrote that “…EIAs should not just be involved in the enterprise’s information architecture, but also involved in the information architecture of the enterprise. They should apply IA skills to understand, model, and support how information and knowledge flows within the enterprise.”

    Is this not being an enterprise change agent with grand visions, or is it more reflective of an EIA pointing out simple matters of improved efficiency?

    I don’t know the answer to this question, but I believe that most companies, if they respect IA as a profession and the people they hire are really good at what they do, then EIAs will indeed be “change agents”–even at the enterprise level where budgets and resources are less limited than those of smaller organizations.

    But, heck, that’s just a semantic distinction.

  2. Thanks and good question. The answer is that EIA’s can and should be change agents — but then so can everyone. What I was getting at was that I don’t think that change agent is something that should become a part of the definition of what an EIA essentially is. In part this is because the term has no discrimintive power (everyone is/can be a change agent) and in part because I don’t see it as an essential part of what an EIA *is*, rather it is a description of the impact that an EIA can have.

    That being said, considering an EIA as part of a semantic infrastructure rather than part of this or that intranet project, has the potential for truely powerful change.

  3. Yep, I’m with you. I just turned to the appropriate semantic relationships chapter in my Polar Bear copy and started thinking about IA and EIA as alternately inset circles. Focus is a good thing!

  4. Nitpicky typo:

    “we should remember that they not really information professionals.”

    should read

    “we should remember that they *are* not really information professionals.”

  5. The article uses terms or phrases like “Information”, “Information Architecture”, “Knowledge”, “Wisdom”, “Semantics” “Semantic Infrastructure” etc. When we look up the definitions of these terms in the publications of computer science or information technology or Wikipedia we come across many definitions which are not consistent.

    It would be helpful for readers if the authors declare what definitions they are relying on. If they have their own definitions of the key terms or phrases, they should be kind enough to define and support them. Over time, the community of authors and readers should be able to arrive at most comprehensive and widely accepted definitions and use them for building more complex concepts and systems.

  6. Hi Tom –

    UI design (or Interaction Design) is an important qualification for most of the IA job descriptions that I’ve recently seen. How would this look on an EIA job description?


  7. I would so like to see an expanded definition of knowledge in IA. The word knowledge linked to information in this article appears, to me, to have a fairly narrow definition, representing, for example, the natural result of appropriate combining of information. As a non-programmer businessperson, my concept of knowledge encompasses the full spectrum of understanding.

    The limitations of data management are what they are, but would not an attitude focused on building bridges between the 2 definitions and uses of knowledge offer far greater potential application of technology in our activities and endeavors? There must be more (says I) to user knowledge than what marketing and usability managers typically focus on eliciting.


  8. I agree that there is a change coming with how IA works within Enterprise systems. In my current position as and IA I find my self having to develop strategies and infrastructure not because I want to but IA seem to be the only one with an understanding of both technology, usability, and to some extent business analysis.

    Working in a large corporation you often find your self as the point person in places where an IA should not be however as business and technology evolves IA evolve with it. And as an IA grows in there craft why not include EIA and the next level in that evolution.

  9. Architecture is an enterprise activity. Enterprise architecture is composed of Business Architecture (Strategies, Processes and Models, Roles), Information Architecture – Information supporting the Business (Typing, Modeling, Organizing, Structure, Frameworks, Governance, Data Architecture), Application Architecture – Solutions delivering information to the business (Application Portfolio, Application Data Mapping), Tecnical Architecture (Infrastructure dupporting the apps, and info environments)… There are slight variations on this.
    If businesses, and/or government departments need to organize information at the enterprise level…. What is the business benefit? What are the enterprise goals that would make an organization see this as imperative?
    Possible points of view could include Business Flexibility, Change Impact Analysis, the ECM virtues (Enhanced reliability, better decisions, maximize reuse)…
    I am the converted, but it continues to be a tough sell in many areas, and not whisper of a thought in others. We need an ROI model. How to measure the Cost of not having EIA and how to measure the benefit of subscribing to it, which becomes a modus operandi vs a one time affair.

  10. a recent sharepoint implementation i worked with had many of the issues/questions/metaphysical circles within circles discussed here

    — much of what the technology was being asked to do could have been accomplished with a piece of paper and a pencil: people who weren’t taking notes before needed to learn that discipline first; then comes the discussion on whether the doc goes into a filing cabinet or a retrieval system tagged and bagged with taxonomy/folksonomy etc

    — the questions being asked around the structure/exchange of info were really larger, org-wide workflow questions: how does group a work with group b and when do they tell group c about what they’re doing … thinking thru and then documenting that (how it is and how it should be) precedes the implementation …

    so, many enterprise wide issues, many change management issues, many cultural issues … and some wiframes and user flows, too

    and when you get to where you’re going, there you are

  11. Information architecture as a practice is simply the directed planning and design of a shared information environment.

    Please, note the use of terms like “directed”, “shared” and “information environment”.

    The concerns of this practice include the environmental context (includes objectives or purpose, roles and actions), information classification, information exchange, information structure, information presentation, information security and information use.

    I have deliberately used the term, “environment” as opposed to system or system-of-systems to suggest an open environment which facilitates information exchange.

    The scope of the environment determines the size of the problem. The scope may be value-network (community of enterprises), enterprise-wide, an application. The scope determines the importance of a concern for example, if the scope is within a network of organisations in an environment like the Airport, information sharing may take precedence over presentation. Even then, presentation is still critical towards the provision of flight information to Passengers and Visitors.

    The methods or techniques applied to the different areas of concern differ depending on the scope of the environment.
    It would be useful if someone develops a matrix mapping some of these dimensions mentioned above. I suspect that this matrix may provide insights on the differences between the roles of the global information architect, enterprise information architect and application information architect.

    All information architects should be trained to adapt methods to match the scope of the environment. For example, Resource Lifecycle Analysis (Ron Ross) while commonly used to bridge Enterprise Information Strategy Planning and the development of an Enterprise Subject Area Model can be adapted for use as Entity Life History (SSADM) for the design of an application logical data models.

    In summary, it is the scope of the environment or domain that determines whether you play at the enterprise or application level and not the size of the application (even where the application is labbelled “enterprise”).

    If you spend more time working on information standards for interoperability within an industry or community of organisations, you are probably an enterprise architect even where your title is “Data Analyst”

  12. At the end of year 2007, I had proposed a different name, Enterprise Information Architecture, from Enterprise Architecture. Today I found exactly same term, EIA in your article. And core concepts look similiar with my idea. What I am saying is that EIA could be more suitable term in stead of Enterprise Architecture. With just the Enterprise Architecture, it is very difficult to imagine that it is related with information areas. Among Enterprise, Information and Architecture, the Information is the most important thing. Therefore Information should be never omitted. But current Enterprise Architecture community seem to cause some confusion between enterprise domain and information area by using Enterprise Architecture to represent the Information Architecture. Now I am a little bit relieved from the EIA, which is more sound usage, in my opinion. If you want more of my definition of EIA, please let me know.

  13. This is exactly what I envision as follows –

    I would view Information Architecture as a part of the overall Enterprise Architecture. Its like healthy blood (Tuned IA) flowing through a healthy body (tuned EA).

    EA is the super set and IA need to be viewed as the subset of EA and then we would be able to appreciate the effect of IA on EA efforts within an enterprise.

    -Deepesh Joseph


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