Infonomics is the theory, study and discipline of asserting economic significance to information. It provides the framework for businesses to value, manage and wield information as a real asset. Infonomics endeavors to apply both economic and asset management principles and practices to the valuation, handling and deployment of information assets.
The term is a composite of “information” and “economics.”
- 1 Origination and History
- 2 Principles
- 2.1 Information is an asset
- 2.2 Information has value
- 2.3 Information’s value can be quantified
- 2.4 Information should be accounted for as an asset
- 2.5 Information’s value should be used for budgeting IT and business initiatives
- 2.6 Information’s realized value should be maximized
- 2.7 Information should be managed as an asset
- 3 Benefits of Infonomics
- 4 Thought Leadership
- 5 Academic Programs in Infonomics
- 6 Alternate and Incidental Uses of the Term
- 7 Related External Resources
- 8 References
Origination and History
In the late 1990s, then META Group and now Gartner IT industry analyst Doug Laney coined the term Infonomics to describe his proprietary research and consulting around quantifying information’s value and defining its management as an actual enterprise asset. This concept stemmed from his work with data warehouse pioneer Prism Solutions (now part of IBM) at which he and his professional services colleagues developed information auditing techniques to validate and qualify and quantify source data quality characteristics and potential business value. These methods were formalized into Prism's commercial ITERATIONS data warehouse methodology still offered by IBM.
Laney’s work builds on and intersects with other disciples including:
- Claude Shannon’s Information Theory
- Paul Strassmann' s work on valuing IT 
- macro economics
- asset valuation
- asset management
- intangible assets
- Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2013)|
Information is an asset
The primary principle of infonomics is the recognition of information as an enterprise asset. Although generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) as yet do not require the reporting of information assets on the balance sheet, infonomics deems that organizations acknowledge that information is more than merely a resource.
Information has value
While it is generally accepted that information has value when used in decision making or to fuel business operations, infonomics posits that information, just as GAAP-recognized assets, has a definitive value even when not in-use. The accounting definition of a balance sheet asset being an item of ‘’probable future economic value’’ applies as well to information. Information's value can also be determined in terms of its realized value and potential value.
Information’s value can be quantified
Similar methods for quantifying the value of accepted intangible assets can and should be applied to valuing information assets. These valuation (finance) methods include as applicable and relevant: market approach, the cost approach, and the income approach. As well, non-economic valuation methods that quantify information’s relative value, business process relevance and data quality-related value have application in helping organizations make strategic information-related IT and business decisions.
Information should be accounted for as an asset
Although information is not yet a recognized balance sheet asset, organizations should consider it one for internal reporting purposes. This includes an applying valuation methods on a scheduled basis and when a given information's value may be impaired, and internally reporting information asset value on a supplemental balance sheet.
Information’s value should be used for budgeting IT and business initiatives
IT and business related initiatives that leverage or secure information assets should be budgeted against the quantified economic value of the information and the cost to acquire, administer and apply the information. Currently such initiatives tend to proceed without this degree of fiscal diligence.
Information’s realized value should be maximized
Infonomics valuation exercises typically disclose that information is a vastly underutilized asset and that organizations should consider opportunities to improve their capture and deployment of information in generating top-line and bottom-line benefits. This includes decision-making, business process automation, innovation, and even the packaging and direct marketing the organization’s information assets.
Information should be managed as an asset
Traditional physical and financial assets have a definitive lifecyle and procedures for their effective handling throughout. Infonomics principles suggest that organizations should apply their own expertise, policies and practices in asset management toward the management of information assets.
Benefits of Infonomics
Benefits of applying infonomics principles and practices include but are not limited to:
- Improving the collection, management, governance and usage of information throughout the organization
- Instituting an organizational culture that values information to the fullest extent
- Quantifiably justifying and validating the ROI of information-related business or IT initiatives
- Determining how much to spend on information security for each class of information asset
- Being able to claim (or assessing) a premium corporate valuation during mergers and acquisitions negotiations
- Assessing contract risks due to their lack of or inclusion of indemnification against the loss, damage or misuse of electronic data
- The future potential for securing loans using information assets as collateral
- Improving the organization’s ability to trade its information assets for goods or services
- Improving relations with customers, employees, suppliers and partners by sharing more and improved information with them
- Improving the organization’s ability to package and market information assets as a saleable product
- Encouraging internal ownership and stewardship of information assets
Throughout the 2000s Doug Laney and his colleagues developed and deployed information asset valuation models, information auditing methods, and information asset management practices. In 2010 Laney formed the Center for Infonomics, a non-profit think tank to collaborate on and further the principles and practices, and the associated the Center for Infonomics LinkedIn Group. The same year he began lecturing on Infonomics at leading business schools holding Infonomics workshops and conducting press interviews on the topic.
John Ladley, Laney’s former colleague, author and expert on enterprise information management also collaborates on infonomics research and lectures on the topic.
IT research analysts from Gartner (e.g. Andrew White, Debra Logan, Joe Bugajski and Michael Smith, Nigel Rayner), and Forrester (e.g. Andre Kindness, Holger Kisker, Rob Karel) also write and advise on information value-related topics.
Douglas Hubbard's book, How to Measure Anything features a method for valuing information based on its decision-making ability.
Dave McCrory, SVP at Warner Music Group authors the DataGravity blog (launched July 2013) in which he has posited a formula for data gravity that considers the size of a data set, and its compression ratio (density), the "application mass" (i.e. memory and disk usage, CPU utilization), bandwidth, latency, and number and size of data requests. He suggests reasons to increase or decrease data gravity along with some uses for it.
Academic Programs in Infonomics
- Kühne Logistics University offers an academic seminar for PhD students and others on "Intermodal Network Services: Value of Information and Pricing" in which Prof. Dr. Rob Zuidwijk shares his models for assessing the value of information in container transport in terms of efficiency and reliability.
- Maastricht University began offering Infonomics in 2000 as a specialisation within economics and business. In 2004 this programme was transformed into an Infonomics specialisation within the BSc Economics and Business Economics and a separate MSc Infonomics. Infonomics at Maastricht University has a focus on the economic and business impact of information, networks and information technology.
- American University Info-Metrics Institute offers periodic graduate and post-graduate conferences, workshops and papers on interdisciplinary topics related to the philosophy, economics, and science of information.
- University of Tulsa has offered a graduate seminar on The Value of Information.
Alternate and Incidental Uses of the Term
Examples of other organizations using the “infonomics” moniker in one form or another include:
- The International Institute of Infonomics was formed in 2000 by Luc Soete to focus on research related to information digitization. Although the institute no longer functions, it was a progenitor of the Maastricht University Infonomics specialisation.
- The Infonomics and New Media Research Centre was founded in 2003 to engage in research concerning IT, digitisation and society.
- The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) published an online newsletter entitled “Infonomics” for almost two years, folding in early 2010.
- An Australian IT corporate governance consultancy can be found at http://www.Infonomics.com.au
- The Infonomics Society aggregates research and publications on a variety of business, technical and other topics.
- Infonomics Ltd is a UK based economic policy consultancy.
- Infonomics Consulting is a German sales consultancy.
- INFONOMICS | Internet & Marketing Agentur is an Austrian based Internet & Marketing agency focusing on Webdesign, SEM, SEO, PPC and Social Media Marketing.
Related External Resources
- Treat data like money. CMO's Advice: Marketers must develop an investment strategy for data, The Economist Group, Jim Davis, SVP & CMO, SAS, October 2013
- Infonomics: The New Economics of Information, The Financial Times, Doug Laney, VP Research, Gartner, September 2013
- Value of Information, GigaOM presentation by Dave McCrory, SVP at Warner Music Group, July 2013
- Accounting for the value of (big) data, Banking Technology Magazine, David Bannister, 11 June 2013
- Putting a price on information: The nascent field of infonomics, SearchCIO Journal, Linda Tucci, May 2013
- What's Your Big Data Worth, InformationWeek, Ellis Booker, 17 December 2012
- An Introduction to Infonomics, InformationAge, Pete Swabey, 26 November 2012
- The Birth of Infonomics: the New Economics of Information, Gartner research publication, Douglas Laney, 3 October 2012 (public summary, full text available to Gartner clients)
- Tobin’s Q & A: Evidence of Information’s Real Market Value, Gartner Blog Network, by Douglas Laney, 14 Aug 2012
- Extracting Value from Information, Financial Times, interview with Douglas Laney by Paul Taylor, 25 May 2012 (free registration required)
- Infonomics: The Practice of Information Economics, Forbes, by Douglas Laney, 22 May 2012
- To Facebook You're Worth $80.95, Wall Street Journal, by Douglas Laney, 3 May 2012
- Introducing Infonomics: Valuing Information as a Corporate Asset, Gartner research publication, Douglas Laney, 21 March 2012 (public summary, full text available to Gartner clients)
- What is Enterprise Information Management (EIM) by John Ladley, Morgan Kaufmann, 2010
- Data as an Asset blog series by John Schmidt, 2010
- Information Driven Business: How to Manage Data and Information for Maximum Advantage by Rob Hillard, Wiley 2010
- How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business by Douglas W. Hubbard, Wiley 2010
- Intangible Assets: Valuation and Economic Benefit by Jeffrey A. Cohen, Wiley 2005
- Value Driven Intellectual Capital: How to Convert Intangible Corporate Assets Into Market Value by Patrick H. Sullivan, Wiley, 2000
- Information Payoff: The Transformation of Work in the Electronic Age by Paul A. Strassmann, The Free Press, 1985
- META Trends, META Group, December 1999 (out of print)
- "Information Economics Press". Strassmann Inc. Home Page. Retrieved 2013-10-4.
- Indiana University Kelley School of Business, http://www.indiana.edu/~msisa/msisa/node/227
- MIT Sloan School of Management, http://mitiq.mit.edu/IQIS/Documents/CDOIQS_201177/Papers/05_01_7A-1_Laney.pdf
- Drexel University iSchool, http://www.ischool.drexel.edu/home/about/calendar/details/?event=1987
- University of Illinois
- University of Georgia's Terry College of Business
- University of Virginia's Darden School of Business
- Depaul University
- The Economics of Information and Principles of Information Asset Management, TDWI, 10 Nov 2010, http://events.tdwi.org/Events/Orlando-World-Conference-2010/Sessions/Sunday/Infonomics.aspx
- Tech Innovation Radio interview with Doug Laney, 10 October 2010, http://www.mytechnologylawyer.com/cgi-bin/FormManager/WebForms.pl?Action=Home_Radio&ID=214&Session=