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The Role of the Information Architect

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The Role of the Information Architect

Oct 23, 2014  


by:  Anthony J. Rhem, PhD., President/Principal Consultant, A.J. Rhem & Associates,
a privately held Information Systems Integration and Training firm located in Chicago, Illinois



Often when I am working with organizations to implement a knowledge management (KM) solution, the role of the business and more specifically the users of the application are discussed.

The users of the proposed KM application will determine its worth to the organization. If the system is not used and/or is poorly received, the organization would have wasted time and valuable resources in developing the KM solution. When this occurs, KM – in many instances – is viewed negatively in the minds of the people at the organization and this leads to the abandonment of KM entirely.

To prevent this unseemly situation, and to get your organization started in the right direction, I would recommend bringing in an Information Architect.
What does an Information Architect do?

In this role, the Information Architect will be the catalyst to bring the users together, along with specific business objectives to enable the KM solution to be adopted by the users and embraced by the organization.

One thing you may be asking is: How does the Information Architect accomplish this? Instead of focusing on typical IT problems, the Information Architect comes to the project with a threefold focus: users of the information, the information itself, and the business or organization.

With this focus the Information Architect will perform the following tasks:



  • Gather requirements pertaining to the content and structure of the KM solution (subject matter experts (SMEs) and users are heavily involved here.)
  • Construct the Information Model (SME’s and users are heavily involved here to further define and validate content.)
  • Instantiate business rules (depicted as relationships) onto the model (SME’s and users are heavily involved here to further define and validate content relationships.)
  • Develop the taxonomy (categorizations of content (information & knowledge) for the KM solution.)  SMEs and Users are heavily involved here.  Card Sort exercise is often used to solidify the content categories and taxonomy.
  • Develop the Metadata Schema (specific information about the content.)
  • Develop standards for content assembly.
  • Contribute to the development of the style guide for content delivery.
  • Contribute to creating an authoring environment that would leverage the standards and style guide for content.

When developing your KM solution, having an Information Architect (or team of Information Architects) will ensure user and business involvement as well as the adoption and use of the KM solution. This is a step in the right direction to contribute to KM being viewed as a positive influence and having value within the culture of your organization.



Dr. Rhem is an Information Systems professional with more than thirty (30) years of experience, focused on implementation of major application systems. Anthony is also a published author, and educator, presenting the application and theory of Software Engineering Methodologies, Knowledge Management, and Artificial Intelligence.

He is an adjunct instructor with KM Institute, offering a Master Class and Certification in Information Architecture.  Click Here for more information on upcoming classes.


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