There is a popular misconception surrounding data architecture and information architecture regarding the similarities between the two. They have very blurred lines between them. It is important to recognise the difference between the two for teams dealing with data in businesses.
Know The Difference
Data vs Information
Before we move into the architectures, let’s first see how data differs from information. Data is something which gains purpose after it is analysed. Data alone might not make sense, but when combined with other data, it becomes meaningful information. The more data combined, greater will be the information received. Information is a combination of these bits of data.
Data: Data architecture looks at the input data and determines how it is captured, stored and integrated into other platforms. It defines how the data is to be collected, stored, organised, distributed and consumed. It deals with raw data for information architecture. Here, rules are created and the process with which datasets will be connected is decided. It is more about the collection, storage and movement of data across an organisation.
Information: On the contrary, information architecture interprets the individual data points and turns it into usable information. Its main objective is to create information assets out of the collected information. The architecture devoted to the bunch of this raw data together, to make meaning out of its information architecture. Once the information architecture receives the data from the data architecture, it is its job to convert it to meaningful information.
Data Architecture: Data architect pays attention to the technicalities with respect to the design, physical structuring, storage, movement, planning, backup, retention, dissemination and classification of all data elements. Such functions would typically result in technical specifications during business application design.
Information Architecture: Information architect deals with automated lifecycle management processes. His job is to implement information structure, features, functionality and UI. He works on the structural design of an infrastructure, and is more about collecting data, pulling it through a lifecycle and pushing it into other meaningful systems. He has to make sure that the result forms a part of the greater data governance strategic pack and helps them with applications required from the final output data.
Clearly, data architecture and information architecture are distinct from each other. But should there be a separate discipline for data and information architecture in organizations or not is a decision to make? Organizations are challenged to determine if separating the two into their own domain discipline will enhance the architecture practice. Data architecture is important for information architecture to occur. Both domains are different in terms of the outcome that they provide, their functionality and requirements. They have different specialities to offer in an organisation.
But there are certainly some common features between the two and treating them as distinct domains come at a cost. By keeping them together, there are advantages of resources being able to pool. Although they are unique, they strongly depend on each other for organisations to gain meaningful insights to make important decisions.