Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Information policy best practices 1: reimagining a business in terms of its information

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on November 26, 2013

A business can be defined in terms of the types of products and services that it offers and it often is, or in terms of the customer base and marketplace that it offers them to. But that is largely a matter of What it seeks to do. As important as these perspectives are, my focus for this posting and for the series that it begins is quite different, and on How a business would seek to do its Whats.

I have been writing consistently and repeatedly about business strategy and operations in this blog but once again, my focus is not going to on that side to How, at least as I have been addressing those issues up to here. As a starting point for here and now, and with the How of a business in mind, I will build this thread of discussion from a definition-formatted foundation:

• As a matter of how a business works, most any business can be defined as a system of information processes and as an organized system of accumulated and developed data and knowledge and its use.
• It is this data and knowledge accumulation, management and use that define a business,
• And it is this data and knowledge accumulation, management and use that determine its competitive strength as its matches up with its competitors for their relative capabilities in this arena.

My goal for this series is to expand upon those three bullet points and to at least attempt to justify them as a vantage point that offers value in developing and improving a business’ competitive strengths and marketplace position.

I frequently write toward the end of postings, and particularly the end of final series installments that I expect to return to the topics and issues just discussed. I offer this posting and this series with that goal specifically in mind, and I begin it by explicitly seeking to connect this posting and what is to follow it, to others that I have been adding here. And I begin acknowledging that by taking note of a posting that first went live to this blog in December 2011 and that in fact served as my initial source of impetus for wring this now: Leadership and the Balance Between Transparency and Confidentiality.

• My goal for that posting was to at least begin a discussion on use of information and on openness in what a business does with it, and on confidentiality and protection of sensitive information – and on how these two sometimes conflicting needs balance against each other.
• I have also written at some length about the valuation of information, as it is difficult to reach any objective conclusions as to absolute risk and benefits from information use or misuse if you cannot set a replicable value on it, that independent analysts might agree upon. See, for example, my series: Business Intelligence as a Quantitative Distinction at Macroeconomics and Business postings 21 and following for Parts 1-9, and also see Depreciation of Value in Non-Rivalrous Goods and the Business Intelligence Life Cycle – 1 and its Part 2 continuation.
• I have written fairly extensively on information security and its risk management issues (see for example, my series: Information Systems Security and the Ongoing Consequences of Always Being Reactive at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time, postings 185-188 for Parts 1-4, and its continuation directory page, postings 189 and following for Parts 5-17.)
• And I have been writing actively about what business data and knowledge are becoming, and particularly with the advent of big data (see for example, Mining and Repurposing of Raw Data into New Types of Knowledge at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time, postings 156 and following for its Parts 1-6, and my series: Big Data as listed on that same directory as postings 177 and following for its Parts 1-7.)

My larger overarching goal for this series, with this context in mind is to offer an approach to developing better information acquisition, storage, usage, sharing and disposal policy for a 21st century business.

I usually begin a series like this with a foundation discussion of general principles and follow that with more specific cases in point, through discussion of case studies or business scenarios, or of specific departments and functional areas as they would be laid out on a table of organization.

• I am going to begin with the specifics starting in Part 2 to this series in a few days, and with a discussion of Information Technology as a department and its information policy considerations, built in assumptions and constraints.
• I will then in turn consider Marketing and Communications,
• And then Finance,
• And then the suite of departments and services that collectively manage design to production to manufacturing to sales with customer-facing follow-through, as an single integrated business process cycle.
• Then with that in place I will at least begin a discussion of more general principles and how they would meet, and hopefully reconcile the diversity of perspectives and points of view of the various parts to a business organization.

I have already cited some specific related information resources from this blog, above and note that I am including this series in Business Strategy and Operations – 3. You can also find related material at Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory.

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