Copenhagen Business School

The Information Value Chain
Strategic Information Management for Competitive Advantage
by Sebastian Schwolow & Mikkel Jungfalk

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With the objective of developing a framework for strategic information management this paper discusses the question: How can organisations create a competitive advantage by taking a strategic approach to leveraging the value of their information? The question is examined through the looking glass of the four academic domains of business strategy, organisational strategy, information systems strategy, information management strategy. Based on the discussion this paper proposes the information value chain model as an analytical tool for managers to assess the state of strategic information management in their organisation. It is meant to provide them with a way of decomposing a complex problem into manageable bits, as well as measuring the efficiency of information-related processes and evaluating the impact of actions towards their optimisation.

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Table of contents
1. Introduction .......................................................................................... 6 2. Methodology.......................................................................................... 8 2.1 Strategic Information Management............................................ 8 2.2 Organisations as informational ecosystems ............................... 9 2.3 Information ................................................................................... 9 2.4 The value of information............................................................ 12 3. Frameworks ........................................................................................ 14 3.1 The Information Systems Strategy Triangle............................ 14 3.2 Business Strategy .......................................................................... 0 3.3 Organisational Strategy ............................................................. 17 3.4 Information Management Strategy .......................................... 18 3.5 Information Technology/Systems Strategy .............................. 18 3.6 Conceptual Map.......................................................................... 19 4. Information Management Strategy .................................................. 20 4.1 Choo's Process Model of Information Management ............... 20 4.2 Information needs analysis and adaptive behaviour............... 21 4.2.1 Information Requirements ............................................... 21 4.2.2 Information Needs ............................................................. 21 4.2.3 Information Ecology/Culture ........................................... 23 4.3 Information Acquistion.............................................................. 23 4.3.1 External environmental scanning .................................... 24 4.3.2 Internal environmental scanning ..................................... 24

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4.3.3 Information Acquisition Costs and remedies.................. 25 4.3.4 Information Processing ..................................................... 25 4.4 Information Organisation and Storage .................................... 25 4.5 Information Products and Services........................................... 26 4.6 Information Distribution ........................................................... 27 4.7 Information Use .......................................................................... 27 4.8 Implications for information management strategy................ 28 5. Information Systems strategy............................................................ 28 5.1 Marchand's IT Practices Capability Framework.................... 28 5.1.1 IT Operational Support .................................................... 29 5.1.2 IT Business Process Support ............................................ 30 5.1.3 IT Innovation Support ...................................................... 30 5.1.4 IT Management Support .................................................. 31 5.2 Implications for information systems strategy ........................ 31 6. Organisational Strategy ..................................................................... 31 6.1 Senge's five disciplines and stakeholders ................................. 31 6.1.1 Systems Thinking............................................................... 32 6.1.2 Personal Mastery, Mental Model, Team Learning, Shared Vision .............................................................................. 33 6.1.3 Stakeholders ....................................................................... 34 6.1.4 Implications for organisational strategy.......................... 35 7. Business Strategy ................................................................................ 35 7.1 Michael Porter's value chain ..................................................... 35 7.1.1 Primary and support activites .......................................... 36 7.1.2 Linkages and value systems .............................................. 37

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7.1.3 Configuration and Coordination...................................... 38 8. Discussion ............................................................................................ 39 8.1 A Framework for Strategic Information Management .......... 39 8.1.1 Primary Activities.............................................................. 40 Information Acquisition........................................... 40 Information Processing ............................................ 40 Information Distribution ......................................... 41 8.1.2 Support Activities .............................................................. 41 IT Infrastructure ...................................................... 41 Human Resources ..................................................... 41 Information Governance.......................................... 42 Knowledge Management.......................................... 42 8.1.3 Information Requirements ............................................... 42 8.2 Application and Perspectives..................................................... 43 9. Conclusion ........................................................................................... 44 Works Cited ............................................................................................ 45

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1. Introduction
We set out to write this paper because we think that information is a strategic asset that needs proper managing. While information management as a academic domain is relatively wellestablished and has been practiced (whether consciously or not) for decades, its strategic significance seems only to have been recognised in recent years. Throughout the course of our studies, we learned that companies are struggling with information-related challenges such as information overload, findability, information quality, information architectures, etc. At the same time, they realise that information, eg, about customer preference and needs, brand image and employee satisfaction has become mission-critical to running and sustaining their business (12th Annual Global CEO Survey, 2009:27).

Figure 1 - Information gap about the critical drivers of business (12th Annual Global CEO Survey, 2009:27)

The 12th Annual Global CEO Survey 2009 conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers revealed an information gap in a number of areas that are vital for strategic decision-making (see figure 1). Figure 1 displays the discrepancy between the information needed for strategic decisionmaking ("critical/important") and the information available ("comprehensive"). The survey showed, for example, that 94% of CEOs asked considered information about their customers' and clients' preferences and needs as "important or critical to long-term

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decision-making" (2009:26). In contrast, only 21% of the respondents felt that they received comprehensive information of this kind. Similarly, while 93% regarded as important information about the risks to which their businesses are exposed, only 22% of the CEOs asked perceived the available information as adequate (2009:27). In our view, this illustrates how valuable an asset information is in long-term strategic direction and decision-making. We think the information gaps revealed in the study could have several sources. The information might be unavailable. It might be available but inaccessible. It might be accessible but in the wrong format. Or it exists in the right format, but is outdated, inaccurate or incomplete. In any case - for us, the study highlighted the need for a coherent and practicable approach to managing information as a strategic resource for long-term decision-making. Pervading today's organisations, information increasingly incurs costs, too. Failure to document and disseminate vital information can cost organisations huge fines (Orna, 2005:111). Moreover, information can lead to huge amounts of hidden costs: according to Feldman (2005) the time workers spend answering emails, creating documents, analysing information, as well as searching for and reformatting it accounts for millions of dollars in organisations' annual costs based on average salaries and bonuses. In a contrasting example, an Australian insurance company achieved substantial savings of A$551,000 (53,000 person hours) by reducing the 100% error rate in its policy proposal forms by 97%. In our view, this illustrates the potential for information-related savings as a way of liberating extra financial resources for organisations. Operating at a relatively lower cost and making superior decisions are two ways of creating competitive advantage (Porter, 1986; Barney, 1991; Marchand, 2002). Our examples above pointed to the strategic value of information in this process. On the other hand, they also revealed how organisations are struggling to manage their information resources effectively. We want to address this problem in this paper by answering the question: How can organisations create a competitive advantage by taking a strategic approach to leveraging the value of their information?

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2. Methodology
We will use the methodology to clarify the research question and elaborate on how we intend to answer it. Research question: How can organisations create a competitive advantage by taking a strategic approach to leveraging the value of their information? The overall objective of this paper is the development of a framework for strategic information management. To our knowledge, no scientifically founded model of this kind exists mainly owing to the fact that the field of strategic information management is relatively new. The Oxford English Dictionary (2009) defines a model as "a simplified or idealized description or conception of a particular system, situation, or process (...), that is put forward as a basis for theoretical or empirical understanding, or for calculations, predictions, etc." Based on this understanding of what constitutes a model, we seek to propose a framework that has practical applications and value for managers and researchers working with strategic information management. Furthermore, we wish to initiate a debate about the value of information in the creation of competitive advantages for organisations by presenting this conceptual discussion as a first step towards a coherent approach to strategic information management.

2.1 Strategic Information Management
Academic discussion of strategic information management is still in its infancy and little consensus exists as to what it encompasses. We have selected an existing attempt at defining the objectives of the field. According to Myburgh (2002), strategic information management "focuses on corporate strategy and direction. It emphasizes the quality of decision making and information use needed to improve overall business performance." We will take a closer look at the relationship between information management and strategy to gain more detailed insight into what strategic information management actually involves. Like Marchand (2001:75), we understand information management as a set of activities that moves through a logical succession of interdependent phases. According to Choo (2002:24) these activities are designed to harness "information resources and information capabilities so that the organisation learns and adapts to its changing environment". Information management focuses on effectively managing "the use of information in support of coordination and control, tactical problem solving and strategic decision making"

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(Marchand, 2001:74). We find that the combination of these definitions provides a solid conceptualisation of information management. When referring to strategy, we mean "the direction and scope of an organisation over the long-term: which achieves advantage for the organisation through its configuration of resources within a challenging environment, to meet the needs of markets and to fulfil stakeholder expectations" (Johnson and Scoles, 2006). Based on these definitions, we regard strategic information management as an important activity in supporting and enhancing managerial decision-making for competitive advantage through a holistic approach to managing the information resources of organisations.

2.2 Organisations as informational ecosystems
In this paper, we will discuss strategic information management as the "strategic approach" referred to in our research question - How can organisations create a competitive advantage by taking a strategic approach to leveraging the value of their information? In order to discuss the question adequately, we also think it necessary to elaborate on our view of "organisations", "information value", and "competitive advantage". In this paper, we define organisations as "the principal means by which [people] coordinate for collective action" (Douma and Schreuder, 2008:46) towards a common goal. This common goal, for the purpose of the following discussion, will be economic in nature. Economic, here, refers to the aims of making a profit or cutting costs. Examples of organisations with this specific set-up are business companies, governmental institutions and even non-profit organisations that merely focus on reducing the cost of their operations. More specifically, with regard to our overall topic of strategic information management, we understand organisations as informational ecosystems (Davenport, 1997:4). This view encompasses the organisation's information culture (value and beliefs about information), stakeholders (politics), information use (behaviour and work processes), and information systems (technology). Davenport's definition of organsations as information ecosystems put information at the centre of organisational activity. Also, the importance of understanding information to the discussion of strategic information management in this paper is self-evident. We will therefore elaborate on our understanding of the concept.

2.3 Information
Definitions of information vary greatly across scholarly domains and often people's choice of a definition will be politically inspired and depend on how it supports their purposes

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(Braman, 1989:233). Rather than looking for a final definition, we will therefore discuss information as a concept and explain how it will be used within the framework of this paper. Braman's paper Defining information (1989) looks at information from several different angles: • • • • information as a resource, information as a commodity, information as pattern perception, and information as a constitutive force.

As a resource, information is viewed as a discrete and isolated entity that is created, processed and used by organisational members (Kirk, 2005:5). This definition specifically describes information as existing in an organisational context that encompasses organisational members - ie, people - who are in daily contact with it. As such, information also exists in a social context. If information is defined as a resource, the implications in this social context are simple: there are two classes - those who have information and those who don't (Braman, 1989:236). While the resource view of information does not attribute any "power to information in and of itself" (Braman, 1989:236), the point that it is possible to lack information that others have suggests that the possession of information can create a difference - whatever that difference is. The idea of information as a strategic resource (Choo, 2002:xiii) builds on this difference and introduces the notion of information-based advantages for those who possess information over those who lack it. This view of information resources shows similarities to ideas from the field of business economics. Barney (1991:101) identifies information as one of the resources "controlled by a firm that enable the firm to conceive of and implement strategies that improve its efficiency and effectivness." A major approach to information management that emerged during the twentieth century (Davenport, 1997:16-23) concerns the information that resides as knowledge in the heads of organisational members. It exists in the form of knowledge or "information-as-knowledge" (Kirk, 2005:9). Before information-as-knowledge can be communicated, it has to be transferred from its intangible state into a tangible one by expressing or representing it physically (Kirk, 2005:9). In other words, "Information-as-knowledge" has to be extracted and transformation into "information-as-thing" - ie, any "expression, description or representation" of information-as-knowledge (Buckland, 1991:351). Orna (2006:108) refers to "information-as-thing" as information products which are defined as "products, print on paper or electronic, through which information is represented for use". According to Orna (2006:108) information products are the result of the transformation of knowledge into

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information. In our opinion, information-as-knowledge belongs to an organisation's information resources. Our discussion has shown that for it to be manageable information-asknowledge must first be transferred into information-as-thing or information products. We regard this as an important prerequisite for effective knowledge management. Knowledge management is the "management of those work practices that aim at improving the generation of new and the sharing of existing knowledge" (Schloegl, 2005). The commodity view of information explicitly introduces the notion of value. Information commodities are tradable and imply buyers, sellers and a market (Kirk, 2005:5). The value of information commodities is essentially economic and represented through a certain price. Examples information commodities include software packages, information services, etc. From a business economics perspective, price is only a sufficient statistic where qualitative dimensions are largely irrelevant. With the enormous amount of information readily available through the internet and other sources, however, information quality (ie, accuracy, validity, timeliness (Kirk, 2005:13)) is more important today than ever before. The commodity definition of information thus only highlights one aspect of the value information might have - namely its economic, trade value. The definition of information as pattern perception broadens the scope by placing information in an environmental, causal and temporal context (Kirk, 2005:5). Braman (1989:238) emphasises that information as pattern perception has the capacity of reducing uncertainty and can thereby lower "the cost of search and increase the 'productivity' of decision making". It can help identify inefficiencies in specific stages of the "information production chain" (Braman, 1989:242) and provide insight into the effects of the creation, processing and use of information in an organisation. The pattern perception view defines information as a potent change agent (Braman, 1989:238). All three definitions - information as a resource, commodity or pattern perception - describe information as a constitutive force. As such, it is not just affected by context, but has itself an active role in shaping it (Braman, 1989:239). As a resource, the possession of information is at the core of possible advantages of those who have information over those who do not. As a commodity, information has a specific price and, again, differences in the value of information commodities can create economic advantages for those who manage to acquire information commodities at the lowest cost. Finally, information as pattern perception creates advantages as it reduces uncertainty, making it easier to navigate through a complex world and make informed decisions.

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This shows that regardless of its definition, information has a effect on the environment in which it exists. In this paper, we understand these definitions not as mutually exclusive descriptions, but rather dimensions of the concept of information. We see information primarily as a resource that exists throughout the organisation in the form of information products, or "informationas-knowledge" which can be transferred into information products. The value of information lies first and foremost in the potential to effect change. Whether the economic value of information or its role in reducing uncertainty is more prominent, depends on how it is used and by whom.

2.4 The value of information
Our discussion of the definitions of information showed that the concept of value and how it pertains to information is a central element in the attempt to define information. It also illustrated how the value of information is contingent on context. Although we have examined the general aspects of information value, its specifics are elusive. It is our view that this is a problem in the world of business where, in the final analysis, it is bottom-line results that count. Since our focus is on organisations with economic goals, the question how information is valuable to such organisations is central and merits closer examination. Marchand (2001:164) identifies three types of problems in defining the value of information resources for businesses: first, information value is poorly defined and several distinct views exist across academic domains; second, the value of information depends on the business context in which it is employed; and third, how valuable information is for a business depends greatly on managerial perceptions, as well as success criteria and measures. This shows that the resource "information" is poorly understood. In fact, through interviews with leading business information managers, a survey from 2007 found that there was no "pressure from [...] senior management to establish metrics of value and performance" for monitoring how information is used in their organisations (Foster, 2007:27). In our view, this is one more implication that organisations need a strategic approach to information management and to define clearly how information is valuable to them. In this paper, we will adhere to the two value dimensions identified in our discussion of the definition of information - namely, its economic value and its role in uncertainty reduction. With regards to economic value, what interests us mainly is not the actual money made in selling information, but the costs incurred in producing it. In fact, much of the research into the field of information business value focuses on the costs of information-related inefficiencies (Feldman, 2004; Orna, 2006; Foster, 2007). While we agree with Shapiro and

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Varian's (1999:3) view that the economic value of information must not be based on its production costs but must reflect the value it creates for the consumer, we believe that it is in any organisation's economic interest to reduce production costs as much as reasonably possible. Pierce (2006:1) describes quality information as "a powerful tool for making rapid and informed strategic decisions". We agree with this view and see improved decision-making as the main value of information resources that reduce uncertainty. Based on Pierce's view that wrong, outdated or incomplete information can result in "unnecessary consumption of resources, additional costs, lower worker productivity" (2006:3) and duplicated work, we conclude that, in a business setting, improved decision making based on quality information and conditions of reduced uncertainty translates directly into economic value. In this paper, we seek to answer the question how organisations can leverage the value of their information to create competitive advantages. Having discussed organisations and information value, the last concept in need of clarification is competitive advantage. Both dimensions of information value - economic value and uncertainty reduction - are important also at a strategic level for the creation of competitive advantages. In business economics, organisations with a competitive advantage implement a "value creating strategy not simultaneously being implemented by any current or potential competitor" (Barney, 1991:102). This means that organisations can gain a competitive advantage if they find better ways of increasing the economic value of their information and/ or using it to make decisions that put them ahead of their competitors. "A firm possesses two types of competitive advantage: low relative cost or differentiation - its ability to perform the activities in its value chain either at a lower cost or in a unique way relative to its competitors" (Porter, 1986:13). Differentiation from competitors is made possible because of information asymmetries. These exist "whenever a company leverages information about customers, competitors, and operations that is unusable or unavailable to its competitors" (Marchand, 2001:214). In connection with the four definitions of information discussed earlier, Kirk (2005:5) commented that "if information is to provide competitive advantage, then its full potential needs to be considered". Since our view of information understands all four definitions as dimensions of information, and since our rationale for information value and its connection to competitive advantage is based on this multidimensional view, we regard this condition as fulfilled. The discussion so far has drawn on a number of academic disciplines ranging from information science to business economics. We believe that such an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to examining the management of information in organisations is necessary

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in order to capture accurately the complexity of the topic.The main disciplines we will draw upon in this paper are related to the main aspects of strategic information management that we will discuss. Our definition of information management describes information as a resource that exists in an organisation along with technology and organisational members. Strategic information management introduces a link between these factors, and business objectives and performance. Discussing the relationship between the four elements of information, technology, people and business value, we will largely draw upon the fields of information management and technology, as well as organisation theory, business economics and strategic management.

3. Frameworks
In this part, we will briefly introduce and summarise the models we chose to investigate the research question, as well as our reasons for choosing them. We will take our point of departure in an adjusted version of Pearlson and Saunders' Information Systems Strategy Triangle. Based on our interpretation of this model, we will introduce four different domains that, for us, constitute strategic information management: business strategy, organisational strategy, information technology and systems, and information management.

3.1 The Information Systems Strategy Triangle
In their book Managing and Using Information Systems (2005), Pearlson and Saunders propose the Information Systems Strategy Triangle as a model to support decision-making about information systems. The model comprises three components: business strategy, organisational strategy and information strategy (2005:2). • business strategy: is defined as a "well-articulated vision of where a business seeks to go and how it expects to get there". • organisational strategy: is "the organisation's design as well as the choices it makes to define, set up, co-ordinate and control its work processes". Finally, • information systems strategy: is "the plan an organisation uses in providing information systems and services" (2005:15). Pearlson and Saunders point out that it is crucially important that more attention be paid at the corporate level to decisions about information systems. This is because they realise that

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information systems for all the improvements they can affect, may "actually inhibit and confuse" (2005:1) information flows within an organisation if not aligned and balanced with organisational dynamics and strategic business goals (2005:2). Therefore, they argue, that a thorough understanding of the relationship between the three components of the triangle, and deliberate action towards their integration are key to any organisation's success (2005:2).

Figure 2: The Information Systems Triangle (adapted from Pearlson and Saunders, 2005:2)

We have chosen this model as our point of departure because it complements our view of interdisciplinarity and its importance in the discussion of strategic information management. However, within the framework of this paper, we should like to extend their model for our purposes. Pearlson and Saunders discuss a tool for strategic decisions regarding information systems. And while the graphical illustration of their model (see figure 2) refers to "information strategy", their actual discussion focuses on "information systems strategy" (2005:12). This is appropriate for their particular unit of analysis, but we find it too narrow to fit our view of strategic information management. Based on our definitions of strategic information management and information management in particular, we think that information systems will indeed inhibit and confuse information flows in organisations if the information resource managed is not properly understood. Even though Pearlson and Saunders mention "data" as a part of information systems strategy (2005:13), they barely touch upon the subject. For the purpose of this paper, we will therefore modify the model slightly and add a fourth dimension to the triangle: information management strategy. The resulting diamond of strategic information management (see figure 3) thus consists of the following components: • business strategy

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• organisational strategy • information systems strategy • information management strategy

Figure 3 - A Strategic Information Management "Diamond"

This view of strategic information management prescribes four research domains worth exploring in answering our research question.

3.2 Business Strategy
In this paper, it is our objective to develop a tool that has a practical application for managers involved in strategic information management. That is why, from the field of business strategy, we have chosen a tool that is widely recognised and well established both academically and in business practice. Since its publication in 1986, Michael Porter's value chain model (see figure 4) has become the de facto strategic framework for creating competitive advantages. Therefore, we have chosen this model to provide the mould for our own strategic framework. We see the greatest advantages of Porter's value chain model in its distinction of different building blocks of which business operations are made up. True to the old principle "divide and conquer", as well as modern problem solving approaches, this set-up enables managers to split up a complex problem into discrete manageable parts without losing sight of the whole. For our own framework, we will therefore adopt this componentised structure.

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Porter's model describes the value chain as it exists for the production of goods and therefore most of the activities in the model will not be applicable to strategic information management. However, based on Picot's view of information as the prime production factor (1989:238) we think that the framework at large can be useful in describing how value is added at each stage in the "production" of information.

Figure 4 - The Michael Porter Value Chain (adapted from

3.3 Organisational Strategy
Kirk (2005:3) points out that "the counterpoint between the organisation and its individual members has particular relevance to IM [information management]" because while information management is a concept at the organisational level, it is individuals who use and process information and are thus especially important to the success of information management. Kirk goes on to say that "we need to consider both the organisation and its members in information terms as a starting point for developing strategies for effective information management" (2005:3). The role of human capital in the health of the organisation and the success of its information management strategy is therefore a central topic. An important aspect in the relationship between the organisation and its individual members is learning. As Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline - Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organisation, puts it: "without learning about the business as well as their own tasks, employees cannot make the contributions that they are capable of" (1994:11).

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He also advocates the view that no organisation can sustain its competitive advantage in the long run, unless it is able to learn faster than its competition (1994:11). We have chosen Senge's theory because it highlights the relationship between the organisation and its members as described by Kirk (2005). In terms of information management, Senge's theory has two implications for this relationship: the selection of the right people for creating a culture of learning for sustainable competitive advantage; and the importance of managing information-as-knowledge.

3.4 Information Management Strategy
In section 1.5, we defined information management as a "set of activities that moves through a logical succession of interdependent phases". This set of activities is often referred to as the information life cycle (Marchand, 2001:75). The original information life cycle concept consists of five elements: sensing, collecting, organising, processing and maintaining information (2001:75). In this paper, however, we will use a model proposed by C. W. Choo in his 2002 book Information Management for the Intelligent Organisation: the process model of information management. This model is essentially a derivative of the life cycle, but placed in an organisational setting. We therefore think it fit for the purpose of our discussion. However, one of the major points of criticism of the life cycle model is the question "where does the information life cycle really begin?" (Marchand, 2001:78). Or differently, where does it end? This is important when it comes to measuring the value of information. When and where to begin; when and where to end - these are crucial limitations that must be set for a measurement to be at all possible. Therefore, in this paper, we distance ourselves from the life cycle model and, instead, embrace the linear value chain construct where information is analysed under the assumption that in the accumulation of value for a particular purpose it has a birth, life and death. We will use the model to examine how information gains value as it moves along the information value chain.

3.5 Information Technology/Systems Strategy
As pointed out earlier, we understand information technology and information systems as support functions of information management strategies within business organisations. In this paper, we will discuss them as facilitators in moving information from one end of the value chain to the other and their potential advantages in doing so at greater speed and better quality. For this purpose, we have chosen the IT Practices Capability framework as discussed by Marchand (2001:51). According to the author, "most work in services and manufacturing

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companies today is "knowledge-based" at all levels" and it is therefore important to find ways of using information technology to support all the different types of these knowledge-based activities that exist within an organisation.

3.6 Conceptual Map

Figure 5 - Conceptual map

Figure 5 illustrates the result of the previous discussion by mapping the different models we will use in the subsequent analysis to the four elements of the strategic information management diamond. This is the methodological foundation based on which we intend to discuss our research question: How can organisations create a competitive advantage by taking a strategic approach to leveraging the value of their information?

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4. Information Management Strategy
In the following paragraphs, we will discuss the strategic aspects of information management. As indicated above, we have chosen Choo's Process Model of Information Management (2002) as the basis for our discussion.

4.1 Choo's Process Model of Information Management
In his book Information Management for the Intelligent Organisation (2002), Choo writes about how information processes are the "intellectual bedrock for building an intelligent, learning organisation". In his process model of information management (see figure 6), Choo illustrates the "design and management of these information processes". The model consists of six related activities: • indentification of information needs • information acquisition • information organisation and storage • information products and services • information distribution and • information use The result of the interplay of all these activities is "adaptive behaviour".

Figure 6 - The Information Management Cycle (Choo, 2002:24)

We will proceed by discussing each activity with regard to how it adds value and its strategic implications.

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4.2 Information needs analysis and adaptive behaviour
"An accurate description of information requirements is a prerequisite for effective information management" (Choo, 2002:28). 4.2.1 Information Requirements In our opinion, the importance of clarifying an organisations information requirements cannot be overstated. Information requirements set the scene for successful information management. They should precede any information management activities and be continuously reviewed during execution. A central problem manifest in today's organisations is the absence of a sufficiently thorough understanding of what constitutes information resources. Despite the growing quantitative and qualitative demands on information-related services in organisations (Foster, 2008:17), the acknowledgement of information as a mission-critical asset seems to enter managerial thinking only gradually. We think a reason for this might be the seemingly overwhelming dimension of the problem. Information resources are evasive, they seem to be everywhere and nowhere, and the true predicament is summarised in the proverbial inability to "see the woods for the trees" - focus and managerial influence are lost in the absence of concrete guidance as to what (and where) information resources are. In determining its information requirements, an organisation must therefore agree on a definition of its information resources, what they are and where they are. Once information resources have been defined, organisations must determine how these information resources are valuable to them. Is the focus primarily on cost reduction, or reducing uncertainty and creating information asymmetries? Depending on how information is valued by the organisation, the strategy for leveraging that value will differ. Finally, information requirements should be translated into critical success factors and key performance indicators should be determined so as to be able to operationalise the strategy in a controlled and sensible manner where progress can be monitored and success - or failure is measured. 4.2.2 Information Needs In order for an organisation to identify its information requirements, it has to analyse its information needs. "Information needs arise from the problems, uncertainties, and ambiguities encountered in specific organisational situations and experiences" (Choo, 2002:26). Choo relies on a number of questions and problem dimensions designed by MacMullin and Taylor (1984:98 in Choo, 2002:26) for the analysis of an organisation's information needs.

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For the purpose of this discussion, we have chosen a few example questions whose answers will determine the nature of a specific organisation's information management strategy. 1. initial state understood vs initial state not understood - clarify unclear aspects of initial state vs soft qualitative data to define initial state This question may be helpful in identifying if an organisation is ready to devise an information management strategy or if more input is needed to make an informed decision. In a way, this problem dimension constitutes the first step towards a structured gap analysis, where the state as-is is established so as to be compared later with the goals the organisation has set for itself. 2. specific goals vs amorphous goals - goal operationalisation and measurement vs ways to reduce problems to simpler tasks This question may assist in defining the goal part of the gap analysis. Decisions here have a role in establishing critical success factors and their respective key performance indicators. By defining specific goals (eg reduce IT costs) and describing the information needed to verify them (eg cost-savings ratio), organisations could distinguish between core elements of their information management strategy and less defined, more open-ended elements. 3. magnitude of risk not great vs magnitude of risk great - cost-effective search vs best available information: accurate, complete This question fosters decision-making about qualitative aspects of information needs. Qualitatively better information is typically associated with higher costs. This risk-based approach to information quality may help to allocate resources more effectively and prioritise some information-related activities over others. 4. well-structure vs ill-structured - hard quantitative data vs probabilistic data on how to proceed This question addresses the types of information needed to achieve a goal. Consequently, the answer depends on the types of goals an organisation has set for itself and the information needs associated with them. 5. familiar pattern vs new pattern - procedural and historical information vs substantive and future-oriented information

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This final question is related to an organisation's goals, its business model and how it values information resources. These factors greatly impact an organisation's information management strategy. Organisations that emphasise information management based on familiar patterns and procedural/historical information are likely to focus on gaining a competitive advantage by reducing the cost of information and optimising their processes. On the other hand, organisations concerned mainly with substantive and future-oriented information are more likely to focus on creating information asymmetries that lead to competitive advantages. In reality, organisations will seek to combine these two approaches. All of these questions will have a substantial impact on an organisation's information management strategy. However, since information needs are "contingent, dynamic and multifaceted" (Choo, 2002:26) the answers to these question will depend to a large degree on the organisations information ecology (Choo, 2002:49). 4.2.3 Information Ecology/Culture Information needs and, consequently, information requirements are a product of an organisation's information ecology. A "complex system of parts and relationships" (Choo, 2002:51), information ecology encompasses the informational, organisational and external environments (Choo, 20002:49). When devising an information management strategy, organisations must be aware of the different forces that are at work in these environments. The eco-system metaphor implies the interrelationship between these different forces and the importance of managing them in conjunction rather than separately. Essentially, "the supply and distribution of information in an organisation should be designed to be compatible with its culture and stage of development" (Choo, 2002:53). Of particular importance to the question of defining information resources and their value to the organisation is the question of responsibility. Orna (2005:110) points out that many critical questions about these matters remain obscure "because it is nobody's responsibility to know the answers". It is thus important that organisations strive to promote a culture of awareness regarding information resources and encourage people to take responsibility.

4.3 Information Acquistion
"Only variety can absorb variety." (Choo, 2002:30)

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With today's high degree of environmental variety, organisations are forced to rely on a variety of informational sources for scanning their environment. There are two generic strategies for scanning: first, organisations can increase the variety of channels for acquiring information about the environment (variety amplification); and second, they can focus on filtering this influx of information and adjust it to individual organisational members' needs (variety attenuation) (Choo, 2002:30-31). Thus, information acquisition adds considerable value to information as it can both decrease existing information asymmetries and create new ones. From a process-efficiency point of view, the right balance between variety amplification and variety attenuation can result in cost reductions and better information quality. When scanning, organisations can probe in two directions: internal environments and external environments. 4.3.1 External environmental scanning Different organisations that operate in different environments will have different ways of scanning these. In any case, however, "selection of sources to monitor the external environment must be sufficiently numerous and varied as to reflect the span and sweep of the external phenomena" (Choo, 2002:30). Studies have shown that business intelligence can be a decisive determinant of success (Choo, 2001:3) as more advanced systems for environmental scanning lead to higher growth and profitability (Choo, 2001:4). External environmental scanning will be important for the usual analyses associated with the environment (market dynamics, market trends, industry analysis, competitor analysis, etc). We argue that these are search modes that support forward-looking strategies aimed at reducing uncertainty and creating competitive information asymmetries. In this way, they correspond to variety amplification focused on finding new patterns rather than familiar ones. 4.3.2 Internal environmental scanning Familiar patterns, on the other hand, are analysed during the process of internal environmental scanning. Here, the main mode of operation will be to monitor internal operations and processes, with the aim of eliminating inefficiencies and process-loops thereby reducing costs. Two foci can be identified: first, organisations can gather information about internal operations and optimise them; and second, they can focus on information acquisition activities and optimise them. From an information management strategy perspective, the second is the more interesting one.

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4.3.3 Information Acquisition Costs and remedies Information acquisition entails costs and risks. Costs are mainly concentrated in hours spent looking for, collecting, and selecting information through various channels. Risks are manifested in inaccurate, incomplete, and outdated information that can lead to poor decisions. Other risks include security hazards and information overload. Choo (2002:29) points out that to avoid these risks, "information variety must be managed". Focusing on information acquisition activities, organisations should strive for efficiency and qualitative excellence by monitoring, evaluating and optimising them. Furthermore, a governance system is needed which is grounded on accepted rules, organisational policies, conventions and stipulated requirements for information acquisition (Choo, 2002:29). 4.3.4 Information Processing Though not explicitly mentioned by Choo (2002), we think that information processing is very much related to information acquisition. Information processing adds value through the synthesis or modification of information resources acquired during environmental scanning to satisfy specific information needs. Choo (2002:32) emphasises the importance of human agents in information processing: "While information technology can and should be used to extend the reach of information foraging, human processing through sampling, filtering, noise reduction, and other valueadding services remains an indispensable link in the information chain".

4.4 Information Organisation and Storage
"Information that is acquired or created has to be organised and stored systematically in order to facilitate information sharing and retrieval" (Choo, 2002:33). This information management cycle activity emphasises the importance of information technology in processing information resources. Information technology adds value as it enables the organisation to process huge amounts of information in an automated fashion (Choo, 2002:33) thereby reducing processing time. It facilitates the communication of information resources, their distribution and sharing, access to them and their transformation. It is therefore important for an organisation to have an IT infrastructure that supports its information management strategy. Regarding IT infrastructure, organisations should strive for systems and procedural efficiency (Choo, 2002:33). System efficiency revolves around making optimal use of the IT infrastructure to yield faster response times. Procedural efficiency addresses the quality

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aspect of information - its accuracy, timeliness and completeness - to reduce errors and undue delay. Like information acquisition, information organisation and storage should also be subject to organisational policies and information governance (Choo, 2002:34).

4.5 Information Products and Services
"Information products and services, and indeed information systems in general, should be developed as sets of activities that add value to the information being processed in order to assist users to make better decisions and better sense of situations, and ultimately to take more effective action". (Taylor, 1986) In his discussion of information products (not to be confused with Orna's information products as defined in the methodology) and services, Choo (2002) focuses on a selection of value-added activities (see figure 7) identified by Taylor in 1986. Value-added activities are "those that signal, enhance, or otherwise strengthen the potential usefulness of system messages" (Choo, 2002:39). Thus, while information organisation and storage was concerned with the technological "back-end" (hardware and administrative software), information products and services constitute the front-end software at the interface with humans.

Figure 7 - Value added in Information Products and Services (Choo, 2002:40)

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Choo (2002) argues that information products and services can add value in processing information resources if they are easy to use, facilitate filtering ("noise reduction" and "quality") and are adaptable to different needs (Choo, 2002:40). Furthermore, they must affect savings in time and costs. For our purposes here, these last two elements are the most important. We think that improvements in ease of use, noise reduction, quality and adaptability will lead to time and cost savings. In devising an information management strategy, organisations might thus focus on these value-added activities when seeking to improve the front-end IT infrastructure.

4.6 Information Distribution
"Information is expensive to produce, but cheap to reproduce" (Varian and Shapiro, 1999:3). As illustrated by the quote above, information distribution has a major part in increasing the value of information resources. Varian and Shapiro (1999:8) use the analogy of a single copy of a film that "would be of little value without a distribution technology". This, again, points to the importance of IT infrastructure in support of information management strategy. Distribution - ie the "dissemination or routing of (...) the right information to the right person in the right time, place, and format" (Choo, 2002:42) - creates value in two ways. As people share information, learning is fostered and deeper insight is generated (Choo, 2002:44). This is crucial for organisational innovation to take place in a more speedy and organisation-wide fashion, and clearly highlights the importance of knowledge management in exploiting the value of information resources. From a cost perspective, distribution results is scale economies. Here, the cost of a piece of information is disproportionally related to the number of people who share that information. Efficient distribution should thus be part of any information management strategy.

4.7 Information Use
In this final part of the information management cycle, Choo (2002) addresses two ways in which information resources can be valuable. He argues that organisational members use information resources to make better sense of their environment and subsequently engage in purposive action towards it through decisionmaking. Choo addresses an important point here. Information resources for decision-making, essentially, are only as valuable as the action the trigger. That is why information management strategy should include explicit measures for operationalisation.

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4.8 Implications for information management strategy
Essentially, there are three major activities where value is added to information resources: Information acquisition, Information Processing and Information Distribution. These processes furthermore rely on an IT infrastructure, human resources, information governance and knowledge management for integration and coordination. Ultimately, if all of these elements function optimally both individually and collectively they will positively affect information use. At the beginning of every information management strategy stands the information requirements assessment which includes an analysis of the gap between the current state and the desired state of organisational information management. For this purpose, organisations should identify their information resources, determine the types of information they need as well as qualitative specification, assign responsibility and set up critical success factors and key performance indicators in order to measure progress. In conclusion, based on their information requirements assessment, organisations should focus on implementing an IT infrastructure with efficient back-end and front-end systems to affect time and cost savings; enforcing information governance and enabling knowledge management; supporting the distribution and sharing of information; as well as information acquisition and, finally, information use and strategy implementation.

5. Information Systems strategy
In the conclusion of the previous part, we stated that "based on their information requirements assessment, organisations should focus on implementing an IT infrastructure with efficient back-end and front-end systems to affect time and cost savings". In this part, we move on to the next corner of the strategic information management diamond (cf. figure 3) and discuss how information systems strategy is essential to designing a solid IT infrastructure that optimally supports the information management strategy. We will examine the subject based on Marchand's IT Practices Capanbility Framework (2001:51).

5.1 Marchand's IT Practices Capability Framework
The IT Practices Capability Framework represents a pyramid with four layers: IT managerial support at the top, followed by IT innovation support and IT business process support. Finally, IT operational support constitutes the layer at the bottom of the pyramid (cf. figure 8).

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Figure 8 -The IT Practices Capability Framework (Marchand, 2001:51)

IT managerial support combines two top-level decision-making activities: strategic planning and management support (Marchand, 2001:50). At the top of the pyramid, these activities represent few but important decisions. In contrast, IT operational support at the bottom stands for many "decisional transactions" of less importance (Marchand, 2001:51). The model is based on two underlying assumptions: today, the lion part of work processes in services and manufacturing is "knowledge-based at all levels" (Marchand, 2001:51); and, knowledge work is organised around different levels and types of decisions within companies (2001:52). This goes back to our argument that IT has to be in alignment with an organisation's information requirements. The different "types and levels of decisions" mentioned by Marchand determine what kind of knowledge work the organisation relies upon and how this work should be supported by an information systems strategy. 5.1.1 IT Operational Support At the operational level, information systems can affect economies of scale. For instance, account opening is one of the most important processes in banking since their business model relies on this source of revenue. If the decision-making process about creating a customer account were still manual, the costs would be enormous, errors numerous and waiting times disastrous. Through investments in the automisation (IT) of the decision-making process, the cost per account opening can be significantly reduced and scale economies be realised. Differently put, IT facilitates the reduction of transaction costs. According to Cordella (2001), however, IT can also lead to an increase in costs. While transaction costs savings are mainly attributed to the capacity of processing more quickly

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larger amounts of information, this very fact might also lead to information overload. Again, this points to the importance of having an information management strategy based on clear information requirements that explicate how information resources are valuable to the organisation. Finally, IT makes it possible to monitor an organisation's processes and performance, analyse the collected information and use it as the basis for process enhancements that result in cost advantages. 5.1.2 IT Business Process Support IT can support standard business processes (eg account opening) by streamlining inputs, processing and decision-making. Marchand (2001) mentions enterprise resource planning systems as an effective IT platform for automating supply chains within and across functions to "improve coordination, control costs, and increase efficiency" (Marchand, 2001:57). Cross-functional sharing of information resources capitalises on economies of scope and saves costs by reducing instances of duplication and redundancy. A second approach discussed by Marchand (2001) is business process re-engineering (BPR). Defined as "the fundamental re-thinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in performance such as cost, service and quality" (Marchand, 2001:56), BPR can benefit from IT based on the monitoring, collection and evaluation of operational information which then flows into the "fundamental rethinking". According to Marchand (2001), "both IT for operational support and IT for business process support focus on institutionalising and formalising "yesterday's strategic decisions". In terms of information management strategy, this means that these two aspects of information system strategy are related to information requirements of "familiar pattern - procedural and historical information ". Backwards-looking as they are, they rely on standardisation, eg through information governance, and goal operationalisation. 5.1.3 IT Innovation Support While IT for operational support and business process support strives to reduce information asymmetries, IT for innovation support and managerial support helps create information asymmetries and advantages over others by emphasising new patterns and substantive and future-oriented information. As a result of better screening and information acquisition supported by IT, organisations may be able to detect opportunities in their environment by analysing trends and customer information. Also, the ability to share, develop and update information resources plays an

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important role in business process re-engineering and process innovation, as well as product development and the exploitation of opportunities (Marchand, 2001:60). 5.1.4 IT Management Support At the top of the pyramid, IT contributes to more informed strategic decision-making about risks, future investments and competitive moves. As such, IT supports information acquisition and environmental scanning which provides managers with information resources for anticipating market trends, address rapidly changing competitive conditions and respond effectively to competitive opportunities and threats (Marchand, 2001:63). Furthermore, environmental scanning activities - ie the collection of internal and external information resources - can contribute inputs for information needs and requirements analyses.

5.2 Implications for information systems strategy
Information systems strategy addresses the use of IT at different levels of the organisation and towards different ends. It should be treated as a support function of information management strategy - specifically, information acquisition, distribution and processing. Therefore, information systems strategy must be aligned with information management strategy and the underlying information requirements. Effective information systems strategies can lead to time and cost savings through greater speed, accuracy and processing power. Value is added through the exploitation of economies of scale and scope, lower transaction costs, as well as decision and innovation support.

6. Organisational Strategy
In this part, we will take a closer look at how organisational strategy can support information management strategy to make the most of information resources. We will examine this relationship by looking at Peter Senge's five disciplines of the learning organisation. To put this into perspective, we will include a brief discussion of stakeholders.

6.1 Senge's five disciplines and stakeholders
In his 1994 bestseller "The Fifth Discipline", Peter Senge proposed a number of strategies and tools for building the learning organisation. His idea was that the learning organisation is contingent upon the interplay of five different disciplines: personal mastery, mental models, team learning, a shared vision and systems thinking (see figure 9). With these five disciplines, Senge analyses the relationship between individual learning and organisational

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learning, which we think is a fundamental aspect of knowledge management.

Figure 9 - The Five Disciplines of the Learning Organisation (]

Moreover, even though earlier we described human resources as a managerial support activity of the information life cycle, we think that individual organisational members are really at the heart of the discussion of information value. This is because value is essentially a human ascription - information per se does not have any value at all unless it is considered valuable by someone. As soon as more than one person ascribe value to a piece of information the potential for conflict arises. Therefore, we think it necessary to put our discussion of Senge into perspective by including a stakeholder view. 6.1.1 Systems Thinking Systems thinking "encompasses a large and fairly amorphous body of methods, tolls, and principles all oriented to looking at the interrelatedness of forces and seeing them as part of a common process" (Senge et al, 1994:89). The point is that individual organisational member must be able to recognise cause and effect relationships between their actions and the consequences for their organisation and fellow organisational members. The notion of systems thinking stipulates that the ramifications of anything organisational members observe and any actions or decision they take, must be considered as part of a system. This means that consequences of actions do not have a linear effect, but a systemic one. Systems thinking can significantly increase the value derived from information and its potential in uncertainty reduction or the creation of information asymmetries. We talked earlier about analysing information based on familiar patterns or new patters so as to gain insights into operational, as well as innovative and decision-making processes. All these

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analyses, however, are in vain if organisational members cannot recognise the implications of certain information for the organisation and act upon them. Systems thinking enables individual organisational members to do this and create information-based value for the entire organisation. Systems thinking is the outcome of a combination of the remaining four disciplines. 6.1.2 Personal Mastery, Mental Model, Team Learning, Shared Vision "People with a high level of personal mastery live in a continual learning mode. They never arrive." (Senge, 1990:142). Personal Mastery is an ongoing process and while it includes the accomplishment of a certain skill or competence, it goes far beyond that. Senge speaks of mastery in the sense of curiosity, openness, the will to learn and, ultimately, a level of accomplishment that allows for aspiration and the development of vision (Leonardi, 2007). Apart from the implications for hiring people, this kind of mindset is important for systems thinking, and thus for increasing the value derived from information. Of course, organisations should hire the best people for whatever tasks they need done. On top of that, though, they will also want people who can recognise opportunities when they see them, use information to innovate and enhance or take the right decisions. Mental models are ‘deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures and images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action’. Senge argues that rigidity with respect to mental models hampers learning. Organisations must embrace and foster openness and overcome political and organisational barriers to learning. Since mental models determine how information and strategic information management are understood by organisational members, it is important to nurture a culture that acknowledges the value of information for the organisation and has a clear focus on managing information resources on an equal level as any other organisational asset. Within this kind of organisational culture, information distribution in the form of knowledge sharing and management will be facilitated and team learning - Senge's fourth discipline - can thrive. It is also important for information needs analyses in the sense that organisational members should be encouraged to voice their opinions and concerns in this respect. Flexibility with regard to mental models may also have a positive impact on the pace at which new strategic information management approaches are adopted and implemented. Finally, building a shared vision is about creating a vision that is genuinely embraced by everyone in the organisation. Senge puts this in contrast to visions that are devised by a single person (eg the CEO). This is important to align organisational members' understanding of organisational objectives. Obviously, information can only be valuable to an organisation if it is used in a way that drives the accomplishment of organisational goals.

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These are the ideal conditions that organisational strategy should strive to achieve. In reality, however, organisations comprise multiple stakeholders who have different interests and will thus value information differently. Therefore, when it comes to determining information value and implementing a strategic information management approach, it is important to view it in light of individual stakeholders and their interests. 6.1.3 Stakeholders According to Bourne and Walker (2005:653-654) information-based power is rooted in the "possession of or access to information perceived as valuable". In an organisation where many people come together, they will naturally influence each other and compete for power. In some way or other, they all become stakeholders in the organisation. A stakeholder is a "person, group, or organization that has direct or indirect stake in an organization because it can affect or be affected by the organization's actions, objectives, and policies" ( This reality represents an obstacle to the implementation of Senge's disciplines, knowledge management approaches or, indeed, strategic information management. With regard to Senge, political tensions among stakeholders can undermine the concepts of a shared vision and team learning, as well as the whole idea behind effective systems thinking. As such internal power play can pose a threat to successful organisational learning. Knowledge management is hampered as information distribution and knowledge sharing fail because of pragmatic boundaries - obstacles to knowledge communication associated with "differences in political interests between those involved" (Swan et al, 2007:1825). Knowledge communication plays an important role in the externalisation of information-asknowledge. Representing information-as-knowledge turns it into a manageable information resource. However, knowledge workers who feel that they disclose at a disadvantage their information-as-knowledge, naturally will refrain from doing so. Therefore, pragmatic boundaries to knowledge communication constitute a threat to effective knowledge management. Finally, strategic information management may fail altogether, because the people in charge or with the decisive authority do not understand the concept or realise the value information has for them and the organisation they manage. As we have seen, stakeholders play an important role not only with respect to the learning organisation, but also regarding strategic information management as a whole. They must be carefully considered, mapped and managed in order to avoid the problems discussed above.

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6.1.4 Implications for organisational strategy Externalised information-as-knowledge increases an organisation's information resource base. This is achieved through effective knowledge management, a large part of which happens at the interface between individual and organisational learning. The above discussion, however, has shown that a fundamental paradox seems to exists between the ideal of the learning organisation and the reality of conflicting stakeholder interests undermining effective learning. Organisational strategy should therefore focus on developing effective hiring procedures for selecting people who truly "master" their job, as well as compensation schemes that reward this behaviour sufficiently to attract and retain such human capital. Organisational culture should embrace openness, flexible mental models and be guided by a genuinely shared vision. In order for organisations to implement these measures, they must be aware of the different stakeholders involved, their position and interests relative to each other, as well as their influence. In this manner, organisational strategy can contribute to leveraging the value of information by promoting an environment where information is truly recognised and treated as a resource; information resources are utilised in an intelligent way and towards the same ultimate objective of competitive advantage.

7. Business Strategy
In this last part, we will examine how business strategy can contribute to the exploitation of information resources. We will discuss this relationship by means of Michael Porter's ubiquitous value chain model.

7.1 Michael Porter's value chain
In his seminal book "Changing Patterns of International Competition", Porter describes the firm as "a collection of discrete activities performed to do business that occur within the scope of the firm" (Porter, 1986: 13).

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Figure 10 - The Michael Porter Value Chain (adapted from

With information being the prime production factor (Picot, 1989:238), it seems logical that it should be considered as part of what is necessary to do business within the scope of almost any firm today. While Porter's value chain focuses on production processes, we think that identifying the information value chain can greatly benefit organisations in practising strategic information management for competitive advantage. Porter argues that competitive advantage can only really be understood based on the specific setup of discrete activities in the value chain (Porter, 1986:13). Thus, it is not the organisation as a whole which constitutes the core of competitive advantage, but the superior relative performance of particular value chain activities. Based on this argument, the identification of the information value chain must begin with the definition of discrete value chain activities. 7.1.1 Primary and support activites Porter's value chain consists of primary activities and support (or secondary) activities (see figure 10). Primary activities are the ones directly related to "the physical creation of the product or service, its delivery and marketing to the buyer, and its support after sale" (Porter, 1986:14). They include inbound logistics, operations, outbound logistics, marketing and sales, and service.

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Support activities "provide inputs or infrastructure that allow the primary activities to take place on an ongoing basis" (Porter, 1986:14). Porter lists four support activities: firm infrastructure, human resource management, technology development and procurement. Discussing information management strategy implications in section 4.8, we argued that there are "three major activities where value is added to information resources". These activities were information acquisition, information processing and information distribution. They constitute the primary activities in the information value chain. As discussed earlier, information acquisition comprises the discrete activities of internal and external environmental scanning as well as variety amplification and attenuation to satisfy the organisation's information requirements optimally. Information processing is the modification and synthesis of information resources thus acquired and comprises such processes as filtering, sampling, noise reduction, etc. Finally, information distribution includes sharing and dissemination activities. In section 4.8, we identified knowledge management, information governance, human resources and IT infrastructure as the secondary activities supporting information acquisition, distribution and use. Regarding information use, we consider it the ultimate objective of strategic information management. The correct interpretation of information resources and their use in sensemaking must precede any decisions that increase information-based value for the organisation, ie the destruction or creation of information asymmetries, or cost reduction. Projected onto Porter's model (see figure 10), information use therefore constitutes the "margin", while information acquisition, processing and distribution make up the primary activities of the information value chain. 7.1.2 Linkages and value systems Individual value chain activities do not exist in isolation, but depend upon and impact other elements of the value chain. These relationships are called linkages - "the way one activity is performed frequently affects the cost or effectiveness of other activities" (Porter, 1986:15). Despite Porter's argument that competitive advantage springs from individual activities, it is important to be aware of the way in which value chain activities influence each other. This awareness can prevent decisions which lead to improvements in one area while affecting others negatively. Also, it opens up the possibility of managing particular activities both directly and indirectly (through related activities). Linkages among value chain activities are not the only important value chain relationship. In fact, an organisation's value chain is itself part of what Porter calls a "value system" - a

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larger stream of activities in which the organisation's value chain is embedded (Porter, 1986:15). For the information value chain, this means that it must be seen as part of a system of value chains. This is again an argument for strategic alignment - obviously, the better the information value chain is integrated with other value chains in the system, the smaller the risk of friction and inefficiencies. 7.1.3 Configuration and Coordination Organisations can create competitive advantages by designing their value chains in unique ways. Through the two dimensions of configuration and coordination, they can realise the advantages that put them in front of their competitors. Configuration describes "where (...) each activity in the value chain is performed" (Porter 1986:17) and there are essentially two options: concentration and dispersion. An organisation with a value chain based on concentration will typically perform every activity in one separate location, whereas an organisation applying dispersion will perform every activity in every location. Factors favouring concentration are: • economies of scale • learning • comparative advantages • coordination advantages Factors favouring dispersion are: • different local needs • transport, communication and storage cost advantages • favourable political environments For the information value chain, the same applies. We discussed earlier the implications of economies of scale, learning and coordination (transaction) costs (for example, see 5.2). Organisations exploiting comparative advantages look for the cheapest location to perform an information value chain activity. Regarding dispersion, organisations might be forced to respond to local information requirements. Transport, communication and storage cost advantages, as well as the political environment are factors that can be highly relevant to the creation of information value. For example, an organisation might choose to disperse one of its information acquisition activities (for example, domestic market intelligence) based on local information requirements. At the same time, it might try to the reduce costs of information processing by

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concentrating this value chain activity in a location with comparative cost advantages (for example, by moving back-office information processing to India where skilled labour is available at a relatively lower cost). Finally, it is important to remember that "the balance between the advantages of concentrating and dispersing an activity normally differ for each activity" (Porter, 1986:21).

8. Discussion
The underlying research question of this paper is: How can organisations create a competitive advantage by taking a strategic approach to leveraging the value of their information. We discussed the individual elements of this question - competitive advantage, strategic approach, information value - through the looking glass of four different strategic domains: information management strategy, organisational strategy, information systems strategy and business strategy. In this final part of the paper, we will look at all of them in conjunction and examine what logical conclusions can be drawn from the previous discussion.

8.1 A Framework for Strategic Information Management
Based on Michael Porter's value chain and our discussion of Choo's process model of information management, Senge's five disciplines and Marchand's IT practice capability framework, we suggest the following framework for strategic information management:

Figure 11: The Information Value Chain

Like Porter's value chain, the information value chain consists of primary and support activities.

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Primary activities involve the direct handling of information resources in ways that increase their value: information acquisition, information processing and information distribution. Support activities ensure that the primary activities can take place continuously and in the most efficient way possible. The latter is an addition to Porter's definition of support activities. While the support activities at the bottom of the information value chain illustration (human resources and IT infrastructure; see figure 11) mainly focus on ensuring continuous execution, the activities at the top (knowledge management and information governance) focus on the additional aspect of ensuring execution in the most efficient way. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss the content and implications of each activity. 8.1.1 Primary Activities Information Acquisition

The first primary activity in the information value chain is conceptually similar to Choo's view of information acquisition. It includes the totality of all environmental scanning processes regardless of their purpose. Information acquisition is especially important for identifying market trends, opportunities, evironmental risks, internal process inefficiencies, customer preferences, demand patterns and a host of other information resources that can be leveraged to create competitive advantages. Information technology can facilitate information acquisition. While benefits result from greater speed and fewer errors, as well as huge amounts of processing capacity, information overload might counteract these positive forces. It is therefore important to balance variety amplification and attenuation in information acquisition. For this purpose, clear-cut policies for information governance can prove extremely valuable. Information Processing

Information processing includes all observable processes involving the modification or synthesis of information resources acquired during environmental scanning. Examples of such processes are sampling, filtering, noise reduction and formatting. The value of information processing lies in the editing, preparation and representation of information resources for specific purposes. Like information acquisition, information processing is augmented throught the use of IT and policies governing the ways in which information is processed (eg, formatted, represented, stored and disposed of).

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40 Information Distribution

Information distribution encompasses all activities aimed at the dissemination and sharing of information resources. Such activities could, for example, be e-mailing, training and educational sessions, intra/extra-nets, online collaboration or the publication of content through a website. Information Distribution adds value based on the principle "Information is expensive to produce, but cheap to reproduce". It can be especially useful in knowledge management, enabling organisational members to share their expertise. Other typical areas of application are marketing, internal and stakeholder communication. Information technology in combination with information governance policies can also facilitate this primary activity. While the technology enables the seamless and speedy dissemination and sharing of information, policies regarding security, privacy, formatting and compatibility can greatly improve the quality and integrity of the distributed information resources. 8.1.2 Support Activities IT Infrastructure

IT infrastructure comprises all back-end and front-end systems an organisations deploys. These include storage devices, physical networks and computer hardware at the back-end, as well as word processors, ERP software or customer relationship management systems at the systems front-end. An organisations IT infrastructure adds value through business process automation, speedier information processing at higher quality and greater capacity. It thus reduces the risk of human errors and the time spent performing these processes manually. It is important that organisations align investments in IT infrastructure with their information requirements - there should be a clear business reason for the deployment of a certain IT. Human Resources

Human resources activities include the likes of recruitment and selection, compensation, training and development, career management, etc. Human Resources add value by selecting and recruiting organisational members that understand the importance of information and fit into the learning culture of the organisation. The effective administration of compensation and incentives can also increase people's willingness to share their tacit information resources.

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Generally, Senge's five disciplines provide valuable directions for selecting people who will contribute to information value exploitation through a responsible attitude towards information resources. As such, the human resources function also has a part in enacting the organisation's culture and shaping the organisational information ecology. Information Governance

Information Governance encompasses the policies and internal guidelines for handling information resources - ie, their acquisition, processing, distribution, storage, security, maintenance, disposal, etc. The value of information governance lies in the development of common organisationwide standards for treating information resources based on the organisation's information requirements. Organisations can thus avoid security issues, litigation because of noncompliance with external regulatory requirements or compatibility issues and inconsistencies. It is important to note that, as with all bureaucratic instruments, a reasonable balance has to be struck between regulating information handling and actually obstructing it. Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management as a support activity comprises processes with the objective of identifying, externalising, representing and distributing information resources that exist in the form of information-as-knowledge. This could be expertise, information about customers, processes, competitors, etc. The value of knowledge management lies in the transformation of tacit information resources into manageable information products (Orna, 2006) and the resulting extension of the organisation's information resource base. Furthermore, it facilitates individual and organisation learning and affects efficiency gains due to the reduction of redundant activities and duplications. With respect to knowledge management, it is organisational culture and information ecology that are important. Successful knowledge management requires above all the willingness among organisational members to share their expertise and insights. IT can greatly facilitate the externalisation, dissemination and sharing of information resources. 8.1.3 Information Requirements As illustrated in figure 11, any analysis of the efficiency of a primary or support activity, or action towards improving it should be preceded by a thorough information requirements analysis. This analysis can be based on the five generic questions listed in our discussion on

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information needs and should be extended into a catalogue of questions that better suit the immediate organsational setup.

8.2 Application and Perspectives
At the outset of this paper, we quoted The Oxford English Dictionary (2009) (OED) to define a model as "a simplified or idealized description or conception of a particular system, situation, or process (...), that is put forward as a basis for theoretical or empirical understanding, or for calculations, predictions, etc." Now that we have arrived at a model, this definition yields some important implications for its application. We view the Information Value Chain model as a simplified, idealised description of how information resources exist in organisations. On the one hand, this means that in reality organisations may handle information in much more complex ways than the model suggests. However, we believe that, in principle, the model covers all the informationrelated activities that take place in organisations today. In this respect, it is also idealised which means that certain processes may also be entirely missing from organisational reality. In terms of possible applications for the Information Value Chain, we therefore see it as an analytical tool that allows managers working with strategic information management to benchmark their organisational reality against the ideal suggested by research from different domains, and provides them with a way of decomposing a complex problem into manageable bits. Based on the OED definition we also see the Information Value Chain model as a tool for measuring the efficiency of information-related processes and predicting up to a certain degree the impact of actions towards their optimisation. Perspectives for research are also based on the simplistic and idealised nature of the model. Its components, the relationship between them and the underlying assumptions of the model would have to be subjected to empirical testing.

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9. Conclusion
We set out to write this paper based on our view that information is a strategic asset that needs proper managing. Our overall objective was the development of a framework for strategic information management by answering the research question: How can organisations create a competitive advantage by taking a strategic approach to leveraging the value of their information? We argued that it was necessary to take an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to managing information in organisations in order to capture accurately the complexity of the topic. Based on this premise we proposed the diamond of strategic information management to illustrate our view of what the discpline encompasses. The diamond consisted of the four academic domains of business strategy, organisational strategy, information systems strategy, information management strategy. Based on our discussion of each domain and its relationship to information value, strategy and competitive advantage, we created the information value chain model. Consisting of several discrete activities, the information value chain is structured into such processes that involve the direct handling of information resources in ways that increase their value (primary activities) and process that ensure that the primary activities can take place continuously and in the most efficient way possible (support activities). The individual activities were: Information Acquisition, Information Processing and Information Distribution (primary), as well as Knowledge Management, Information Governance, Human Resources and IT Infrastructure (support). The final and most important element in of the model was Information Requirements. Any analysis of the efficiency of a primary or support activity, or action towards improving it should be preceded by a thorough information requirements analysis. We see the information value chain model as an analytical tool for managers and researchers working with strategic information management. Perspectives for future research are based on the simplistic and idealised nature of the model. Its components, their dependencies and the underlying assumptions of the model remain to be tested.

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