Norman Harris commenced his work in the application of computer based information systems to business in 1967 for ICI. He has documented the methodology he prefers to use for problem analysis.
Modern information technology has extended the information that can be brought to bear in real time on the needs of a business. To an organisation that has a clear view of its information needs this can be the basis of tremendous business advantage and ultimately impact on the bottom line. Amazon and Ryanair can take the credit for revolutionising their traditional industries.
To an organisation which does not have such a vision, it can be either a costly lost opportunity or the source of an endemic information overload resulting perfidiously in starvation of reliable information, of which the net effect is the obscuring the way forward for the employees and management in the organisation.
Information permeates through the business in what tends to be a random, parochial manner unless it is analysed and structured as a deliberate action of corporate management.
The basic prerequisite of an effective Information Strategy is a robust IT infrastructure. The distinction should immediately be made that the IT infrastructure, the erstwhile cables, hubs, switches and servers, now supplemented by wireless and mobile devices, on which the systems run. It also necessary to add to this the basic set of desktop tools, e.g. Microsoft Office Professional. Although the process by which decisions may be made on the choice of hardware and desktop software strategies may be vary, they need to have been made and maintained, if the specific application systems to support the business processes are to be defined.
Whilst the basic hardware and desktop software strategy is a given in larger organisations, this is not invariably the case unless conscious effort has been made. Without such a strategy, simple tools like e-mail will not work to their full potential.
So the initial work in producing a business related Information Strategy is to ensure that the foundation is in place and constructed satisfactorily. The development of the business information strategy may propose enhancements in scale and extensions of the scope of the infrastructure that is in place. The management of the infrastructure cannot function to the satisfaction of the organisation unless they can overview the information needs and development plans of the whole organisation. All developers must accept the basic tenets of the infrastructure policy and contribute to its enhancement. A classic case in modern business is the Enterprise-wide document management system. This cannot function unless the desktop facilities are consistent and of a high order. The development will require a degree of cross-department consistency in how information is portrayed, consistency in which additional, particularly viewing tools, are acquired, and a planned increase in capacity of server, communication channels, secure gateways and procedures for back-up security and disaster recovery are essential.