Data are raw facts. The word raw indicates that the facts have not yet been processed to reveal their meaning. For example, suppose that you want to know what the users of a computer lab think of its services. Typically, you would begin by surveying users to assess the computer lab’s performance
Information is the result of processing raw data to reveal its meaning. Data processing can be as simple as organizing data to reveal patterns or as complex as making forecasts or drawing inferences using statistical modeling. To reveal meaning, information requires context. For example, an average temperature reading of 105 degrees does not mean much unless you also know its context: Is this in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius? Is this a machine temperature, a body temperature, or an outside air temperature? Information can be used as the foundation for decision making. For example, the data summary for each question on the survey form can point out the lab’s strengths and weaknesses, helping you to make informed decisions to better meet the needs of lab customers.
Key points between Data and Information
- Data constitute the building blocks of information
- Information is produced by processing data.
- Information is used to reveal the meaning of data.
- Accurate, relevant, and timely information is the key to good decision making.
- Good decision making is the key to organizational survival in a global environment
Timely and useful information requires accurate data. Such data must be properly generated and stored in a format that is easy to access and process. And, like any basic resource, the data environment must be managed carefully. Data management is a discipline that focuses on the proper generation, storage, and retrieval of data. Given the crucial role that data play, it should not surprise you that data management is a core activity for any business, government agency, service organization, or charity