Toward a wider scene for information management’s business role

Pieter Wisse

It’s such a familiar term, information management. Are we still making the concept productive? Do we gain new benefits, and so on? It turns out that nowadays IM is too little of an information and too much of a management discipline. Does Information Management: Setting the Scene (Elsevier, 2007) edited by Ard Huizing and Erik De Vries succeed in (re)setting the scene?
It certainly does a good job avoiding the technology bias. That is important for regaining balance. I’m less convinced, though, about the scene being widened beyond strictly business. Sure enough, most authors of the collected papers demonstrate an awareness of organizations operating in, and partly constituting, the information society. A business bias, however, remains dominant throughout the book. Therefore I find that Information Management, rather than Setting the Scene, is primarily directed at rewriting the particular role for IM within the business organization. There’s nothing wrong with that, on the contrary, but when managing expectations it better be clear. Seen from this somewhat more limited business perspective, all twenty four chapters written mainly by academics make perfect sense. For example, it accounts for calling Maes’ framework from his introductory chapter an “integrative perspective.” It integrates, so the speak, a single organization’s informational aspects from strategy to operations, from business processes to information technology. And, which is the subject of part V with four chapters, what purpose does IM serve if not supporting customer focus? But then, as part II with three chapters suggests, IM needs to reorient itself at their subjective meanings including variety, too.
The chapters are varied, covering what nevertheless remains a lot of ground. You should read, even study, this book when your outlook is indeed firmly grounded in business (and not expecting to change that perspective soon). Even when I personally am not all that happy about it, the majority of the target audience of “information practitioners, academic researchers and higher education teachers” should qualify. Be prepared there’ll be much in the book that you may at first sight be unfamiliar with, that you won’t agree with, etcetera. Please feel inspired, give it your own shot at design ideas, for that is the whole point of the exercise. Why bother with innovation when you’re happy with how your information management, whatever you take it to be, is going? To benefit, you need to be sufficiently worried to appreciate a sketch for a changed role. How does business information management perform on the wider scene of the information society? Meanwhile, society’s scope of information management needs also being addressed. There’s hope for the book I’ve reviewed here is just volume 1 of a projected series on “perspectives on information management.”


Also posted as a review at Amazon.


March 9th, 2008, web edition 2008 © Pieter Wisse