3 myths about information and IT

In this post I’d like to debunking three popular myths about information and information technology.

Myth 1: The best way to improve the use of information is to invest in information technology.

This is an expensive and time-consuming way to make improvements, but it is the route favoured by the technology vendors, big consultancies, and many companies!

The fact is that most organisations are not very good at using information, so the most effective improvements are achieved by examining the use of information then identifying and implementing the changes that make a big difference. These are nearly always simple and small changes that don’t involve IT.

Myth 2: To make any meaningful or significant change to a large organisation requires a correspondingly large investment.

Changes operate like a lever – the balance of the lever will affect the cost of the changes. The trick is to identify and leverage the little things that make meaningful and significant changes.

Information is a great lever, but it is rarely used directly in the management of change. In the words of one of its reviewers, our book Enterprise Architecture – the Eight Fundamental Factors, describes “strategies for more effective gathering and utilising of information as a means for managing change, complexity, and eventually knowledge itself.”

Myth 3: It is better to adopt a standard enterprise architecture for every organisation than to have a separate architectural framework for each organisation.

The logic behind this is that if every organisation adopts the same architecture then they will somehow be able to share in some benefit. This is similar to arguing that all commercial buildings should be constructed to the same blueprint!

In practice it is easy to see that a standard architectural framework cannot apply to all organisations – those who have tried to force fit a common framework know that it requires much adaptation and modification before it becomes workable.

What is important is to adopt recognised architectural principles and practice – in effect, to use tools and techniques that have a proven track record and work. My research suggests eight factors that are common to all architectures; these form a meta-framework, which is a better starting point than a predefined, standard architecture or framework.