Information As Product

How to Deliver the Right Information, to the Right Person, at the Right Time.

by Michael C. Daconta


Book Details

Many people, including IT staff, do not know the difference between data and information. Is your organization stuck in a vicious cycle of producing more and more redundant, poor-quality, stove-piped data while your information consumers scream for more and more of the "right" information?

Over five years in the making, this book stops the cycle of haphazard data generation and turns it into reliable, consumer-centric information production. It does this by turning to time-tested manufacturing principles of the automotive, electronics and construction industries. This book walks readers through the "4C's" of producing consumer-centric information products. It carefully dissects the slogan "Deliver the right information, to the right person, at the right time" and demonstrates a rigorous methodology for moving beyond the slogan to a sustainable and repeatable process!

Written by a proven expert in the field and the former Metadata Program Manager for the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Daconta, this book delivers for managers, architects and developers. It is a must-read for every manager seeking to empower their employees with relevant, timely and authoritative information!


Book Excerpt

This book is organized into six chapters and book-ended with an introduction (this section) and a conclusion. Each chapter supports the others in a building block approach:

• Chapter One: Why Information Production – this chapter provides the core justification for formalizing the information production process. It also introduces and explains the 4C’s of an Information Product: Consumer, Context, Catalog and Content.

• Chapter Two: Data and Information – this chapter clearly distinguishes data from information. Additionally it distinguishes both from knowledge and wisdom. It closes by distinguishing information from information products.

• Chapter Three: The Information Product – this is the central chapter of the book that defines an information product both conceptually and technically. To do this we follow a physical product analogy. In line with that analogy we examine the importance of consumer profiles similar to those used in marketing physical products. The chapter also introduces a new concept of “Information MVC” and details its role in implementing information products.

• Chapter Four: The Information Catalog – this chapter describes how to create and populate a metadata catalog. Before exploring the catalog implementation, the concept of metadata is demystified. A new, unambiguous definition for metadata is constructed and explained in detail. The chapter closes by exploring the role of the metadata catalog in the information production process.

• Chapter Five: The Information Production Process – this chapter introduces the information supply chain as analogous to the physical product supply chain. Each value activity in the value chain is explored. The chapter closes with a case study on a real-world information product: the electronic mortgage.

• Chapter Six: Strategic Information Delivery – this chapter focuses on the application of information products to achieve “rightness” along three specific axes: information, person and time. To achieve this I devised a “rightness pattern” composed of three interlocking components.

• Conclusion - this section completes the book by envisioning the result of a robust information production process: individual empowerment via real-time relevance. The chapter closes with a summary of the key “take-away” points

• Appendix A: Effective Metadata Design – this appendix is provided to enable technical managers to differentiate between good and bad metadata designs. It walks through seven methods for describing data and demonstrates each one via a case study. The chapter includes a detailed examination of formal taxonomies adapted from an article I wrote for A successful metadata catalog will use all of the techniques described in this section.

• Appendix B: The Evolution of Data – this appendix describes the history and future of data representation and is adapted from an article I wrote for Enterprise Architect magazine. While quite technical in some areas, I have taken pains to expand and clarify the material for technical managers. The appendix also serves as an interesting indicator of the evolution of my own thought into data, information and knowledge representation.


About the Author

Michael C. Daconta

Michael Daconta is the Chief of Enterprise Data Management for Oberon Associates, Inc. Mr. Daconta is a well-known author, lecturer and columnist having authored or co-authored 10 other technical books, numerous magazine articles and online columns. He is the former Metadata Program Manager for the Department of Homeland Security where he managed the DHS Metadata Center of Excellence. In that capacity he was selected into the “Federal 100” by Federal Computer Week magazine. He successfully led the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) Data Reference Model (DRM) working group. Lastly, in conjunction with the Department of Justice he launched the National Information Exchange Model ( to provide a reusable set of core XML components for rapid information exchange. He previously served as the Chief Architect on the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Virtual Knowledge Base Project and also designed the SmartDoc® electronic mortgage XML standard for Fannie Mae. His career has afforded him a unique blend of operational and technology experience.

He earned his Masters degree in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University and his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from New York University. His books cover XML, XUL, Java, C++ and C. His previous book was “The Semantic Web: A guide to the future of XML, Web Services and Knowledge Management.”

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