Business information architecture is a science of logistics and intrinsics that often gets overlooked. While a lot of detail is paid to interfaces, protocols, and abstract business principles such as training models, worker dynamic models and corporate culture, this important science is left in the shadows. As a result, most companies adhere to very archaic architectures. These aren’t disastrous, but it’s time for everyone to see that there are better ways to store, present and quantify your business information.
Now, it is a good thing that these other facets get the attention they do, and I don’t presume to say any of them should be ignored more for the sake of business information architecture. However, I would say more attention should definitely be paid to it, and to help make this practical, I want to lay out five key points that will save you a lot of hassle if you take the time to implement them. These are general suggestions, and as a result, you may or may not be able to act on them, and you may find yourself modifying the idea a bit to fit your needs.
#1 – Concentric Databases
Let’s start with the core of business information, the object in which information is logically stored and recalled. This is called a database, even if it is not on a computer. A filing cabinet is a database, a card catalog is a database, and a dictionary is a database as well. Of course, most of them are on computers nowadays, and for good reason. They take up less room, it’s ecologically friendly, even when mass copying the information, it can be searched, stored and recalled far more quickly, and is more secure from tampering, theft or calamity. So, chances are, you’re already using a database. But, are you still using an old Jet database, or in some cases, even a COBOL database?
Yeah, sad but true, many older companies still use ancient database formats with legacy support from newer systems. Well, these databases work, but they’re incredibly linear and rigid. They are the most traditional database only, that of a two-dimensional grid. There can be no interlinks, no cross references and no information trees applied – simple row and columnar value evaluation. Sure it works, but it means information of high cross-reference or sophistication is very annoying to store in a two dimensional grid, and be recalled into its multidimensional form for representation.
Consider upgrading to a modern database such as SQL, Oracle or even modern Access? These are still tabular databases, but ones with cell interlink support and external data source link-ins for a cell to contain preserved complex information a grid couldn’t directly store effectively. Speaking of multi-formats allowed by concentric databases …
#2 – Multiple Parallel Formats
Storing data in a singular format is going to result in one of two things – either overkill or severe limitation. A single format is great for storing specific types of things it was based around. If nothing is more complex than its target, then it will store fine, but waste complexity compatibility not needed. On the other side of the coin, using a low-complexity format will cause, as said earlier, problems formatting back and forth between the flatter architecture and a more dimensional piece of data. Ergo, with business information being the voluminous and textured kind of data it is wont to be, a single format isn’t going to cut it. Since concentric database models support interlink with other data storage mediums, then there’s no reason not to put XML inside cells as interlinks. XML can store multifaceted data such as text bodies, presentation formatting and multimedia interlinks for imagery, audio and video. Blending these formats gives order through databases with interlinks for the multi-paired relationships of business information segments, and a complex storage object via XML for multi-faceted attributes of the data.
#3 – Cloud Centrism
Now, we come to the higher end of this. We know what to store business information in, and what formats are the best. Now where are we going to keep this information? At one time, it would be stored in a business’ data center, which might have only taken up a closet. For greater needs with limited local space, high-security, expensive dedicated hosting was the other way to go. These options made it hard for traveling employees to access things on the go, or to cooperatively work with others with this data center as a relay.
Cloud computing has changed this, with ambiguous centrality of hosting, and ease of access through formatted login interfaces. Also, with the right login permissions, cooperation and global access of business information is now possible through these ambiguities permitted by controlled cloud data storage and recall. We’re at the end of the technical side of business information architecture, it’s now time to look at a little data logic for how information should be quantized.
#4 – Grouping
Grouping data, especially in business information, is extremely helpful. Designing information templates for small, discrete information groupings is a powerful way to make multifaceted data manageable. For customer contacts, as an example, having a group template for general customer information, another template for business-specifics, and another for financial history and standing activities, some data can be reused or modularly linked, and any piece of information in any group can quickly be used as a key to search information by whatever system manages it.
#5 – Redundancy
Redundancy in having backups is important, but redundancy in information is just plain silly. For business information architecture, it only gets messier with more repetitive or unnecessary information.
Wisely, make sure that your information is truncated as much as possible, and let the databases and interlinks and other sophisticated things we’ve talked about worry about fleshing it out when it’s rendered.
Simple information is information hard to break.
These are just a few tips on business information architecture I think ought to take you far. There’s a lot more to be said, it’s a whole bloody science, but if this is all the more you’ll hear on the topic, these are the things out of all I’d have you learn.