The Information Canvas

Information is a key asset in modern knowledge-intensive organizations. Whether it is information about customers, leads, cash flows, market trends or mentions via social media, the right information helps us to make strategic decisions. Yet, given the increasing speed of doing business, it is easy to skip important questions about this information. Question such as: who in the business actually uses this information, what value does it provide to them, what are the costs of obtaining this information (subscriptions, technology, man hours in gathering and cleaning data, creating reports)? We at GriDD are convinced of the importance to look from a strategic perspective at the key information in your organisation. The Information Canvas is an instrument that helps you in this.
The Information Canvas is a slight adaptation of the Business Model Canvas by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. Just like their canvas, the Information Canvas consists of 9 blocks. In the section below we briefly introduce these 9 key aspects of information and related questions that help you to look from a strategic perspective at the information in your organization.
Central to the canvas is the value proposition of the information: what value does the information actually deliver? What business problem does this information help to solve?
Customers: Who are the users of the information? For who does this information create value? While we use the term ‘customers’, this does not imply an external customer. In many cases information is gathered only for internal customers.
Customer Expectations: What expectations do the customers have regarding the provided information? Whether people expect a weekly report or anytime, anywhere mobile access to the information makes a big difference for the costs associated with the information. What expectations regarding the information do the customers have, that are currently not met?
Channels: Via what channels are we going to provide the information to the customers? How would they like to be reached? Which channels work best? Which ones are most cost-efficient?
Key Partners: In order to be able to provide the information, who are our key partners? What resources do we acquire from them? What actions do they perform?
Key Activities: What activities does the value proposition require? What activities follow from the customer expectations? What activities do the different distribution channels require?
Key Resources: What key resources does the value proposition require? What databases or systems are key sources of information? What people do we need based on the value proposition?
Cost Structure: What are the most important costs in providing this information to our customers? What key resources are most expensive? What key activities are most expensive?
Revenue Streams: In case of external customers: for what value are our customers really willing to pay? For what do they currently pay? Also with internal customers there can be revenue streams, for instance by avoiding unnecessary costs or by being able to take important decisions in a timely manner.
By addressing these nine aspects of information with key stakeholders and capturing results on the information canves, you create an easy-to-understand strategic overview of key information in your organization. Use the results to decide whether you really need that new information system, what data you should be collecting in your processes and, for instance, whether the target audience is better supported by an infographic or if a table will do.

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