The Value of Information Architecture

9th Academics and Practitioners Roundtable
At the 2021 Information Architecture Conference
April 19 – 23, 2021


Information architecture (IA) has evolved to think broadly about designing information ecosystems. IA plays a vast and pervasive role in daily life, social structure, and the organization of economic and political power. And yet we still need, and struggle, to explain what information architecture is and what its value is.

If IA academics and practitioners aim to demonstrate the value of their work and improve the wellbeing of human beings surrounded by and immersed in information systems, there are critical questions they must answer:

  1. What is the value of IA in society, present and future? Specifically, what is the value of IA as a discipline?
  2. What narratives do we share in our IA communities about our origins, purpose, and value? What are the limitations of those narratives?
  3. How can we redirect conversations about economic value or "return on investment" (ROI) toward a broader, more meaningful range of human values?
  4. What concepts or vocabulary can we use in order to explain the value of information architecture to our colleagues, clients, and communities?

The virtual roundtable event is spread across 3 days, 2 hours each day, to engage participants in addressing these questions and to clarify the ‘Value of IA’. The online format accommodates a global conversation and is open to anyone with an interest in IA, continuing the Roundtable’s tradition of gathering practitioners, researchers, and educators from around the world to discuss critical aspects of our discipline and share what is discussed with the broader IA community.


Stacy Surla
Andrea Resmini
Jönköping University

Sarah A. Rice
Seneb Consulting

Jeff Pass
Booz Allen Hamilton

Asha Singh


Spread over 3 days at various times to accommodate a global audience.
April 19, 3-5 PM GMT
One large group meeting.
A number of local groups meet per time zone.
April 23, 11a-1p GMT
One large group meeting.

Day 1: Intro - value of IA

April 19: 8 am PT US/ 11 am ET US/ 5pm Copenhagen / 7:30 pm Mumbai / 11 pm Tokyo / 2 am (next day) Auckland.
2 hours in duration; meeting will be recorded for those unable to attend in person.

Meet as a large group to ground participants in classical and contemporary IA concepts and introduce aspects of the Value of Information Architecture.


  1. The IA Roundtable goals and purpose
  2. M3 model
  3. What you need to know to prepare for day 2

DAY 2: local groups

April 22 11am - 1pm local time (various groups around the globe)

Engage in structured activity to bring to life the Value of Information Architecture. A series of local group meet-ups, spread across time zones, will dive deep into an aspect of the roundtable topic. Local groups will be identified and scheduled based on who registers for the roundtable event.

  1. Local group: TBD
  2. Local group: TBD
  3. Local group: TBD
  4. Local group: TBD

Day 3: synthesis

April 23: 4 am PT US/ 7 am ET US/ 1 pm Copenhagen / 4:30 pm Mumbai / 8 pm Tokyo / 11 pm Auckland.
2 hours in duration; meeting will be recorded for those unable to attend in person.

Meet again as a large group to synthesize findings and develop artifacts to be shared with the larger community - 2 hours.


  1. Local group summary/readout of activities
  2. Review what's been learned
  3. Prepare artifacts to share within conference (Poster Night, Conference Session)