For a number of years, I have explored a concept (or framework) I call “Information Integration“. Whether we are looking intra-organizationally, at groups or inter-organizationally, information has a number of roles to play. For example, information acts as a vector for the transfer of knowledge (boundary spanning) or as a means of coordination. But one role that interests me is a role I call information integration.
Here is the concept in a nutshell:- information, used effectively, can act to facilitate integration inside and across organizational boundaries; information binds organizations together (glue) and acts (like plumbing) as a mechanism for communications and the exchange of ideas. Communications in this case, can be transactional (e.g. EDI) or conversational (as a means of exchanging ideas and negotiating shared understanding).
Looking for an example? Consider the electronic health record (EHR) and all of the work being done in many jurisdictions to reach this holy grail. One of the opportunities that the EHR affords or provides (or, I should say, “should” provide) is the opportunity to bind the various organizations (physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, long term care facilities, etc.) that exist across the spectrum of care to coordinate and collaborate for the benefit of the patient. The EHR is not only a place where we ‘store’ information but is a vehicle for exchanging / sharing information about a patient.