Information Organization & Access

AIIM defines Information Access as the findability of information regardless of format, channel, or location. This definition based on a growing recognition in the industry that what matters is not how searchable you make your information but how findable, places the greatest emphasis on the success of your information management regimen and your capacity to incorporate an effective user experience into the search process rather than the latest search algorithms.

According to the analyst firm Gartner, who in recent years has been using the term "Information access technology" to include and expand on what they previously called "enterprise search technology", what we once knew as search, is not just search anymore and they use the term information access to include a collection of technologies to help you find information, such as;

  • enterprise search
  • content classification, categorization and clustering
  • fact and entity extraction
  • taxonomy creation and management
  • information presentation (for example visualization)

This is a useful expansion of the problem set, but we should keep in mind that many of the tools around extraction, classification, and categorization remain supplementary to the essential task of organizing information. There are three main ways in which people look for information:

  • Pattern Matching (aka search) - same physical attributes of the sought after information, it contains words or phrases, they exist in certain parts (e.g. title, author), certain words exists close to each other (e.g. clustering), etc.
  • Semantic Web Navigation, or traversal - knowledge of a relevant asset that is linked to other assets, traverse the links looking at related information; sometimes with weighted links.
  • Classified or Categorized, that which is organized by topic browsing. - This is where we use classification taxonomies and related structured organizations of information.

Note that only the first approach relies exclusively on "search." However, the line between search and browse (either by link or by structure) is getting blurrier every day, as clustering and guided navigation enable new ways for enterprises to facilitate useful access to large repositories. At the end of the day, all three approaches rely heavily on metadata. Clearly, to access information properly, first you need to organize it properly.

AIIM has therefore introduced an Information Organization and Access (IOA) Certificate that covers global best practices for organizing information for improved access. Courses are available online or classroom, and please visit for course objectives and agenda.

The information provided in this page is courtesy of AIIM®.  Please click here for more information on IOA.