Intelligent Information Sharing

Ted McLaughlan

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The Art and Architecture of the Interactive User Experience in DC

Very recently I've changed gears a bit to focus much more, on a daily basis, on the "Front End" of the Business Information Management lifecycle - at DC's Navigation Arts, "Architects of the User Experience".

In all digital interactive implementations (i.e. websites and digital applications), a great deal of artistry and intellectual insight is required to fully understand and create a compelling interactive design (both the creative components and information architecture, or navigation) that satisfies both users and investors. As well, a significant amount of communication and translation is needed to successfully implement the design across the required media channels and on top of the supporting IT infrastructure - compliant with business and IT investment constraints.

Many times this translation, between users/designers and the IT "back end" ecosystem (including vendors and 3rd-party service providers) is not much more than a "toss over the wall", subject to significant misunderstandings, inefficiencies, deployment and investment risks.

Where considerable process re-engineering and inclusion of automated services is necessary, a mature engineering lifecycle (we'll assume SOA-influenced) typically takes advantage of process modeling, service definitions and use cases to inform the technical requirements process. The technical requirements will therefore include models of the system, compliant with architecture standards, from perspectives including data and content, technologies and IT management, information-flows and interfaces, organization and roles, and automated processes, workflows and reusable services. These models stand a good chance of adequately reflecting traceable and testable business requirements, while properly orienting and informing the IT designers and developers.

Where the outcome is purely an exercise in web content presentation and interaction strategy, heavily focused on information-sharing vs. data processing, the visual design/information architecture translation to IT requirements tends to end at the WCM model - which very often is the proprietary model of the WCM COTS vendor.

However, if the information needs of the users, intended to be satisfied through the new web design/information architecture, outgrow the native WCM capabilities (in terms of features, scaling or data management) - additional and early "interactive architecture models" are required to inform the supporting IT requirements and design staff, AND translate these additional requirements back to the business investors. These additional models might extend or enhance the information management model fulfilled in part by the WCM tooling, to include additional datastores and sources, media channel interfaces, and perhaps other legacy data management infrastructure. More investment needed, therefore, for IT elements that no one outside of the IT department fully understands.

This is truly, in today's very fragmented, open source-oriented, multi-platform world of the interactive digital user experience, where much more guidance, many more standards and cost-effective modeling tool options are required - to assist in the project-driven translation of user requirements from Art to Architecture.

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Summary: Currently a Federal Enterprise Architect with Oracle, Ted has over 25 years in Commercial and Government Information Technology with University of Virginia, EDS, Accenture, KME Internet Marketing, Blackstone Technology Group, NavigationArts and CSC; additional focus recently on Interactive Design, Web 2.0 Internet Marketing, SEO, Social Media and Advertising. Specialties: Enterprise Architecture and Information Management, SOA/ESB, Enterprise Integration, Business Intelligence, Internet Safety and Security, Family Content Networks, Knowledge Management and Collaboration, User-Defined Operational Pictures/Common Operating Pictures (UDOP/COP), Situational Awareness, Portals, Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Website Design/Development and Optimization - Certified Systems Engineer - Certified Enterprise Solution Architect