From Bottom to Top: The Info Stack
Successful information management requires a technology solution that encompasses all enterprise applications, including document
management, ERP, and customer management. Ovum analyst Sarah Burnett describes the complete, multilayered enterprise package
as the information management stack.
The information stack begins at the infrastructure level, which comprises both internal applications, such as file systems,
databases, and archiving; and external sources of data, which may encompass cloud deployments such as software services, RSS
feeds, and web-generated information.
Next comes data management, life cycle management, the retirement of old data that is no longer required, archiving, and records
management. Often, companies have data or reports that, while not active, need to be accessible in the near term. Even though
some solutions allow for this type of storage, it's important that companies learn how to classify information to simplify
the task of finding it. There's a need to standardize the way information is classified, as the use of different terms negates
the value of data storage. Another crucial aspect is metadata management. What that means is that more time needs to be spent
resolving issues around data definitions and improving data quality, because having good and consistent data from the outset
will allow companies to produce better quality reports and analysis.
The third layer in the information management technology stack comprises data extraction and integration. First, there's data
warehousing or data consolidation, which deals with longer-term data cycles. This system is most appropriate when there are
definitional discrepancies or when a lot of data cleansing is required. Data warehousing or data consolidation is valuable
insofar as it lets personnel conduct multidimensional analyses. If, for example, a number of issues have arisen during drug
development, business leaders can use the data to analyze the value and cost of the project.
Another technology that fits into the extraction and integration layer is data federation, or data virtualization, whereby
a department or business leader might grab snippets of information from different systems for quick access and analysis. This
technology is most applicable for small quantities of data that don't require substantial transformation or cleansing. According
to Burnett, data virtualization enables users to quickly access data that is pertinent to their particular requirements. Master
data management, which gives users a single view of an important part of the business, such as a product or a customer, also
fits into this layer. One example might be filling in missing pieces of data in a record or removing errors from a record.
The final part of the extraction/integration stack is service-oriented architecture or data services. This is another way
of breaking data into components that can be reused at various points throughout the organization.
Information services is second from the top of the stack. For most users, this level is where the more familiar tools and
applications such as search, retrieval, audit, and forecast are found.
At the top of the stack is delivery, which focuses on making information easier for the user to digest and understand. Delivery
allows information to be synthesized for a particular user, such as financial, project management and development, or scientific
Regulatory information management involves more than tracking submissions. The processes and technologies used to enable successful
regulatory information management help companies consolidate disparate systems and produce meaningful, holistic information
that leads to better decision-making. Only by having clean, consistent, and reliable data is it possible to build a broad
picture of how an organization's resources are currently being used and how they can be maximized in the future.