Published: 09 April 2013
The first bit of knowledge that I impart to my students doing an Introductory Database Management course is the difference between data and information. After witnessing first hand high ranking BI/IT employees grappling to understand the difference between these fundamental concepts, it seemed to be the best place to start the class and hence the first post for this blog.
So what is the difference anyway?
Data and information are most times used interchangeably and while they are related, they are not the same thing. I have embedded the chart below from diffen.com that gives clear definitions and examples of each word, it also provides an easy side-by-side comparison to highlight how the words differ. The definition I will use for Data comes from the business dictionary.
Data are (yes, data is plural, datum is singular) raw and unorganised facts, such as alphabets, numbers or symbols that refer to, or represent, conditions, ideas or objects. It is limitless and present everywhere in the universe.
On the other hand, information is raw data that:
- has been verified to be accurate and timely
- is specific and organized for a purpose
- is presented within a context that gives it meaning and relevance, and which
- leads to increase in understanding and decrease in uncertainty.
When we receive information, it should provide value by affecting behaviours, decision, or outcome. We should gain knowledge from information and we ought to be better off, else it has no value and might as well we did not receive the information in the first place. Data and information form core foundation pillars for Business Intelligence and our ability to leverage our data repositories, information hubs and knowledge banks will ultimately differentiate the innovators from the laggards.
About the author: Raquel Seville [@quelzseville] is a Business Intelligence Professional, BI Evangelist, Founder: exportBI | Co-Founder: eatoutjamaica. To find out more, please visit her about me page.