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TOWARDS A COMPREHENSIVE MODEL OF INFORMATION STRATEGY Mocker, Martin, European Research Center for Information Systems, University of Münster, Leonardo Campus 3, 48149 Münster, Germany, martin.mocker@ercis.de Teubner, Alexander, European Research Center for Information Systems, University of Münster, Leonardo Campus 3, 48149 Münster, Germany, alexander.teubner@ercis.de Abstract Strategic information planning is an important topic in practice as well as in research. Work so far has focused mainl
  TOWARDS A COMPREHENSIVE MODEL OFINFORMATION STRATEGY Mocker, Martin, European Research Center for Information Systems, University of Münster,Leonardo Campus 3, 48149 Münster, Germany, martin.mocker@ercis.deTeubner, Alexander, European Research Center for Information Systems, University of Münster, Leonardo Campus 3, 48149 Münster, Germany, alexander.teubner@ercis.de Abstract Strategic information planning is an important topic in practice as well as in research. Work so far has focused mainly on the planning process itself rather than on the actual information strategy as itsoutput. The paper points out different approaches to substantiating the concept of information strategywith perhaps the most advanced approach being the system of plans approach. However, existingapproaches are not satisfactory regarding their structure, completeness and rationales. We propose amore comprehensive model of information strategy that is argued to overcome the deficiencies of theexisting approaches. Our model introduces the concepts of information infrastructure and information function. It helps to clarify ongoing discussions devoted to information strategy as a functionaldepartmental strategy, to strategic alignment as well as to the role of the CIO and allows theintegration of separate views on information strategy from different disciplines.Keywords: Information Strategy, Strategic Information Planning (SIP), Strategic Information SystemsPlanning (SISP), Information Systems (IS) Strategy, Information Technology (IT) Strategy, Information Resource (IR) Strategy, Strategic Alignment.  1   MOTIVATION AND INTRODUCTION Strategic information planning (SIP 1 ) is an important topic for information systems- (IS) and businessmanagers. As such, SIP is among the highest-ranking issues on management agendas (Watson et al.1997, Galliers 1993). There are several reasons for SIP's significance in practice: firstly, theapplication of information technology (IT) might result in strategic information systems that yield acompetitive advantage. Kettinger et al. (1994, Appendix A) list 60 case examples of these strategicinformation systems. Porter and Millar (1985) provide a number of examples of how IT can changeindustry structure and may be used throughout the value chain to lower cost, enhance differentiation orspawn new businesses. Secondly, information and IT increasingly penetrate businesses' products andprocesses (Porter and Millar 1985), thus becoming not only an isolated, but a corporate wide,ubiquitous source for competitive advantage. Thirdly, ignoring SIP does not only result in loststrategic opportunities but might also lead to duplicated efforts, incompatible systems and wastedresources (Ward & Griffiths 1996, pp. xii, Lederer & Salmela 1996). Confirming this perception,management attention has also been identified as one crucial success factor for SIP (Earl 1993,Premkumar & King 1994, both cited from Gottschalk 1999, Byrd & Sambamurthy & Zmud 1995).Its high importance in practice makes SIP an important topic for research, as well. Accordingly, anumber of research efforts have already been devoted to this topic: for example, based on an analysisof 33 different English-speaking journals, Brown (2004) found that between 1991 and 2004 137 SIP-related articles were published.However, most published SIP research focuses on the process of strategic planning whilst the result(the strategic information plan or information strategy) is often left out or at least left unsubstantiated.Brown (2004) identifies only a few articles covering the information plan in relation to the planningprocess (26% vs. 84%). Teo and Ang (2000) confirm that most research seems to focus on the ISplanning process itself […] rather than on the output […] .This is a surprising fact since as long as a common concept of information strategy is lacking, i.e.there is no consensus on its domains (what are the objects of the strategy) and its content (whichdecisions have to be made regarding the domains), the discussion on the process (how to get to thecontent) necessarily remains vague. Thus, our claim is that an analysis of the process should bepreceded by a substantiation of the output.Consequently, this paper focuses on the output of SIP, i.e. information strategy. The objective of thispaper is to improve the understanding of information strategy and to put forward a model of information strategy. To this end, we introduce the reader to the major approaches to substantiating theconcept of information strategy in literature and point out their current shortcomings in chapter 2.Then, in chapter 3, we argue for a more comprehensive and better grounded model. Chapter 4 sets outhow the proposed model contributes to prominent ongoing research discussions and how it advancesthem. Finally, we outline further research opportunities. 2   STATE OF THE ART OF INFORMATION STRATEGY: ACRITICAL REVIEW Information strategy is a core responsibility of the top level IT executive, the so called Chief Information Officer (CIO). According to a study conducted by Stephens et al. (1995) 80% of surveyedCIOs are in charge of planning their company’s information strategy. As argued above, the first thing 1 Strategic information planning is often referred to as strategic information systems planning (SISP). We will lay out laterwhy SIP is the more appropriate term.  a CIO needs to know when attempting to formulate an information strategy is what has to be decidedon. This includes the question about the domains of an information strategy (what is it all about) andits content (which decisions have to be made regarding the domains). Unfortunately, scientificliterature does not give a consistent answer to a CIO interested in getting to know what an informationstrategy is. This inconsistency is indicated by the usage of different terms for the output of SIP asdemonstrated by the following examples: Lederer and Salmela (1996) use the terms strategicinformation plan and IT strategy – regretfully without explaining the differences between them.The latter term is used by Gottschalk (1999, 1999a) as well. Chan, Huff and Copeland (1998) use theterms IS strategy and “IS/IT strategy”. Finally, Smits, van der Poel and Ribbers (2003) use the term information strategy . We will lay out later, why we use the latter term as well in this paper.Besides the usage of different terms, different approaches to substantiating the concept of informationstrategy can be identified in literature. We surveyed 35 articles that cover the output of SIP accordingto Brown's study (2004). Furthermore, major German (Teubner and Klein 2002) and Englishtextbooks on information management were taken into account. Based on this work, we identified fourtypes of approaches: 1. information strategy as a functional departmental strategy, 2. applicationportfolio as the core of information strategy, 3. information strategy as an enumerative list, 4.information strategy as a system of plans. 2.1   Information strategy as a functional departmental strategy Some authors view information strategy as a departmental strategy. In this case, information strategycan be compared to strategies of other departments like the marketing or production department. Sincethese departments are traditionally in charge of business functions (e.g. marketing, production, sales,procurement) the information strategy is often said to be a functional strategy (see Lehner 1993, p.16;Smits & van der Poel & Ribbers 2003, p. 65; McLeod 1998, p. 40, 48; Boddy & Boonstra & Kennedy2005, pp.90). Such a functional departmental strategy can be derived by breaking down the businessstrategy into the responsibilities of existing functional departments. This approach implies theexistence of an organisational unit (i.e. an IT department) that provides an IT based infrastructure forinformation and communication. It also implies that the strategic decisions of the enterprise regardingIT and IS can be delegated to a department. Thus, information strategy as a functional departmentalstrategy is restricted to decision areas that affect the tasks of the respective department. CorporatestrategyProductionstrategyFinancialstrategyMarketingstrategyHRMstrategyInformationstrategy   Figure 1. Alignment of information strategy with all other functional strategies according to Boddy & Boonstra & Kennedy (2005, p. 91). One problem of viewing information strategy as a departmental strategy lies in the fact that unlikeother functions, the use of information, information systems etc. permeate the whole enterprise inalmost every process (Porter & Millar 1985). To address this issue, a number of authors propose toalign the information strategy with all other departmental strategies (see figure 1). However, thisalignment introduces a high level of complexity and still does not provide an overall perspective oninformation strategy.  2.2   Application portfolio as the core of information strategy “It is conventional wisdom and practice” to see the core contents of information strategy as “anapplication development portfolio” (Earl 2003, p.59). Indeed, a huge number of articles suggest thisapproach (e.g. Lederer & Salmela 1996, Lederer & Sethi 1991, 1992, 1992a, 1996, Gottschalk 1999b,Salmela & Lederer & Reponen 2000; Ang & Shaw & Pavri 1995; Lehner 1993). The primary strategicdecision to be taken is which information systems to develop in the future. Lederer and Sethi (1992a)explain that this might embrace the selection of prosaic applications and might also entail thediscovery of new applications with the potential to create an advantage over competitors , i.e. strategicinformation systems. The authors do not provide good reasons for the application portfolio to be theprimary contents of an information strategy. The question arises whether this is already exhaustive.For a planner it should be important to cover all required issues, since missing out on crucial issuesmight lead to unwanted side effects. E.g. the introduction of certain applications might haveorganisational implications like new skill requirements that would also need to be considered. Someauthors advocating the application portfolio approach recognise this shortcoming and try tocompensate it by adding other domains and decisions as components of an information strategy.Galliers (1991) for example states that no longer should organisations be looking simply for aprioritised portfolio of information systems applications as the sole outcome of the process .Admitting the lack of a better concept he nevertheless defines IT strategy in a broad sense toincorporate the range of issues associated with strategy formation and implementation with respect toinformation systems (Galliers 1993). He adds components such as “implementation change strategy”and “on-going assessment and review” without giving arguments for choosing just these componentsor for the list to be complete. The resulting proposal resembles the approach described in the nextparagraph: enumerative lists. 2.3   Enumerative lists Enumerative lists   are sets of decisions that are typically identified either by literature review orsurveys among planners (e.g., Conrath & Ang & Mattay 1992; Lederer & Salmela 1996; Das & Zahra& Warkentin 1991; Heinrich 2002, p. 106, 113; Flynn & Goleniewska 1993, Wexelblat & Srinivasan1999). In some cases (e.g. Das & Zahra & Warkentin 1991) a structure is applied to this list so that listitems get grouped into categories. Table 2 shows three examples. Conrath, Ang and Mattay (1992) Lederer and Salmela (1996) Das, Zahra and Warkentin (1991)Statement of objectivesHardware planProjection of possible futureMIS/EDP environmentRecommended implementationplanSystems development planFinancial PlanPersonnel planFacilities planProjection of possible future userenvironmentOrganisation planEducation planProjection of possible futureindustry environmentSummary of strengths andweaknesses of staff Comparison of past IS performanceSummary of organisation’s ITstrategyData and application plan (initialdata entities, high-levelspecification of apps,requirements for datamanagement, security andtraining, tools for systemdevelopment and maintenance,cost, benefits, risks, and resourcerequirements resulting from theplan)Change management plan: actionsthat will facilitate adoption of ISplanHR plan: newly required IS skills,new roles/ responsibilitiesTechnical architecture of hardware,supporting databases and systemDistinctive competence emphasizedin strategic MIS planning (cost of information, informationdifferentiation for differentapplications, specializedinformation for specific marketniches)Dominant information processingtechnologyLevel of computerization of theMIS functionSources from which the firmobtains its IS technologyContribution of MIS department tosystems design and developmentMedium, by which MIS contributesTechnical processes through whichMIS are managed and controlledOrganizational structure of the MIS
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