I have devoted several recent columns to a discussion of enterprise data strategies ­ the plans by which companies leverage their data for better decision making. This month I will talk about the larger strategic context within which an enterprise data strategy works. That context is an "information strategy."

The Accenture Institute for Strategic Change recently published a research report about the corporate use of information strategies entitled, "Capping the Gusher: Turning Information Torrents into Competitive Power." The research defines information strategy as "the part of the business strategy that describes how the firm will leverage information to create value in a dynamic business environment." It's not just that the information strategy has to be "aligned" with the business strategy ­ the two are actually inseparable. According to Debbie Richman, vice president of technology for overstock.com, "If people think of information strategy as distinct from their business model, they won't be competitive. It has to be central, not peripheral."

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