Approaching the intangible benefits of a boundary object
Sammanfattning: Today´s information society is constantly increasing the quantity of digital information that organisations have access to and depend on. Despite this dependency, few descriptions exist of the benefits which this digital information can provide the organisation with. Examples of what the organisation can use the information for include business intelligence or in a business process. The absence of such benefit descriptions results in missed opportunities in organisational management and a failure to cultivate the artefact. In terms of a practical operational work role, this means that the artefact just exists and that there are no decisions, communication and discussions connected to it. Earlier research about benefits in the Information Systems field is focused on describing the process of finding benefit factors from different IT investments and how these investments can be measured financially. The result of this was that it was only the measurable benefits that were taken into consideration. Later benefit management research has shown interest in the intangible benefit factors as well and added this as an activity in the evaluation process. Today´s view is that the benefit consists both of tangible and intangible benefit factors. This thesis emphasises benefit factors found by means of qualitative research in organisations producing Technical Information (TI). TI isinformation connected to goods and services and is a part of a product. The intangible benefit factors found which are connected to TI are semantic interoperability and knowledge. Semantic interoperability is beneficial both for the organisation and the individuals – in the first case exemplified by a uniform working process and in the second as efficiency in the internal communication. Knowledge also provides benefit both to the organisation and the individuals – the organisation can operate without depending on certain individuals and information gives the individuals mobility in their profession.The next part in the thesis discusses information management´simpact on benefit factors. In the case of an autocratic approach, it is the organisation that benefits most, whereas a decentralised management style provides the individual co-workers with a greater number of benefit factors. This proves that information management is an important and decisive ingredient, and that it affects benefit factors.One step in the direction of converting the intangible benefit factors into tangible ones is to visualise them. In this work the theoreticallens provided by a boundary object has been used. This lens adds a qualitative view on cross-boundary information and has efficiency approaches. These approaches are the syntactical, semantic andpragmatic. Via interpretations from the thesis´s two empirical cases, those approaches are "measured" by interpretations and visualised by the three leaves of a clover. This gives the opportunity to describewhat information efficiency, in this case connected to a positiveexpectation, can contribute to the organisation or the individuals. By this procedure, different cases or time aspects can be compared,thereby providing a basis for decision-making, communication and discussion. Future research in this area can be made in different directions – one is to investigate whether the intangible benefit factors can be turned into measurable ones. In this way, the internal organisation can be provided with better knowledge of the digital information's impact. Another research direction is to investigate how the passage of time affects the benefit factors that digital information gives the organisation.
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