The Power of Information Flow Modelling – Part 4

In this series of blog posts, we are exploring how a greater understanding of your information assets can help drive business value through by enabling successful digital transformation. The challenge that exists in the marketplace was described in this blog post; it is a challenge which is growing daily as the pace of change and the curiosity needed to understand the disruption potential of that change accelerates away from what we know today.

Part 1 looked at how we can better understand the role people play in enabling information flow and how the deep understanding of the value that they offer can help us prioritise the work they do.

Part 2 looked at the same outcome from the perspective of the System.

Part 3 looked at information privacy and how the information flow view quickly provided answers to privacy related questions.

In Part 4, we are going to explore how modelling information flow can provide the context for how your data adds value as a modern catalogue, and how that drives “infonomics” – the weaponisation of your data and the monetisation of your information assets, and its positive impact on business value.

A Modern Information Catalogue

To start with, let’s consider the view that an Information Flow Model provides to the business. When you model information flow, you are connecting data and information to the business outcome that this data and information enables. Business outcomes generate business value – so you are also explicitly connecting data and information to business value. This is a key aspect of a modern catalogue.

Back in the day, a data catalogue was simply a list of data that the organisation had. There were (and still are) plenty of tools out there that automate the collection of data to create the catalogue; but the question that still remains to be answered is, so what? I have a list of content, that is more than likely massive and I’m still struggling to know what I really do with this to effect any type of change. Of course there are catalogue technologies that add value to this list of content but there is still a “so what?”

Information flow modelling benefits

A modern information catalogue adds context to the data and information that the business has. That context is all important. Fostering an information-driven culture is key to managing information supply chains so that data and information held and used is connected to the business value generated. When the majority of organisations have limited ability to exploit their information for other value-add purposes, the modern catalogue mapping information flow and connecting that flow to important knowledge;

– the people and systems that touch the information,
– the purpose for which the information is flowing,
– the cost of enabling the information and
– the value of the outcome supported by the information

becomes the enabler of “infonomics” – valuing and accounting for information as an asset.


Business Leaders with responsibility for data & analytics programmes seeking to derive tangible business value from their information assets need to consider 3 aspects of that challenge; the measurement of the information asset, the management of the information asset and the monetisation of the information asset.

This is a critical role in an organisation today. Gartner predicts that by 2020;

– organisations offering access to a curated catalogue of information will derive twice as much business value from analytics investments as those that do not,
– more than 20% of organisational business plans will use infonomics to provide a financial analysis of the information assets and liabilities,
– 10% of organisaitons will have a highly profitable business unit specifically for productising and commercialising their information assets, and
– 50% of new information transformation flows will integrate one or more machine learning algorithms – resulting in erroneous interpretations of data.

Applied Infonomics

Information Supply Chains

On the journey to monetise information by creating business value and developing an information-driven culture, data and analytics leaders such as Chief Data Officers (CDOs) must come to terms with the ever increasing quantity and complexity of information assets and their use. Big Data may have been the challenge to date, but Data Variety is the new challenge. Alongside the external pressures discussed in the first article of this series, knowing what to ignore is potentially a greater challenge than what to implement.

The Information Supply Chain is one method of contextualising the view of information held within the business. This is of course the realm of LINQ – but is increasingly being accepted by others as the basis for the modern information catalogue. In February 2018, Gartner released a schematic for the Information Supply Chain which when viewed alongside the LINQ view of the ISC confirms what we have been introducing into the marketplace for more than 3 years.

ISC Gartner & LINQ

In the book, “Crossing the Data Delta: turn the data you have into the information you need“, by Pete Smith, Jason Edge, Steve Parry and Dave Wilkinson, published by the Entity Group. they say;

Data originates from an action, perhaps a customer sale, or a citizen requesting a government service. That data can be turned into valuable information…which builds a repository comprising institutional knowledge…and from that knowledge, and organisation can take further action…that leads to more customer sales, more data, more information, more action. The cycle repeats. Action ultimately drives more action in a virtuous helix of linked events with data as the ultimate building block. Data originates from actions and drives new actions. Actions to data to information to knowledge to action.

It is the Information Supply Chain and the new knowledge that it delivers to the business that enables the measurement, management and ultimately the monetisation of information; what data is available, how does it flow, how is it accessed, is it fit for purpose, what decisions does it support, what value does it deliver and who is responsible for it – all questions answered by the modern data catalogue using the Information Supply Chain as the bearer of information value, driving Infonomics.

The Information Supply Chain and its view of value offers immediate business benefits in breaking down the barriers to operationalising the measurement of information assets all through the business;

– business-focused conversations, where explicit emphasis on the role of information is not well understood,
– regulatory and compliance situations that are predicated on having the right information at the right time; well-documented and traceable, and
– distributed environments for analytics such as data lakes.

For the senior data & analytics leaders, the Information Supply Chain allows them to;

– contextualise information against business use capturing when and where it came from, where it is used, why it is used, how it flows, which people and systems touch it, who has accountability for it and what value it has,
– accurately spread information through the business making it available for use in existing processes,
– through an increasing information-driven culture, support new, innovative and creative routes to market for products, services and applications by highlighting the information that is available, and
– create a common language; “information as a second language” which helps the organisation “talk information” and gain maximum value from it.

Value RelationshipsWhen information is managed as an asset, and the business is information lead, value spreads through the business, enabling areas beyond those of initial comfort to benefit from the new insights gained. The connectivity between business areas becomes apparent and can be used to develop more business value. Business process optimization, improved productivity through the elimination of information waste, collaboration across teams and business units, improved communication around a common language, enhanced information security and improved governance are all possible benefits that will be realised.


Additional reading

Survey Analysis: Third Gartner CDO Survey — How Chief Data Officers Are Driving Business Impact

Applied Infonomics: Why and How to Value Your Information as an Asset

Applied Infonomics: Use a Modern Data Catalog to Measure, Manage and Monetize Information Supply Chains