Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom
Although we often use the terms data and information interchangeably, they don't mean the same thing. Neither does wisdom and knowledge. In fact, these terms represent different phases towards organizational enlightenment.
is generally described as facts and figures without context or
interpretation. A string of figures could be an account number, a
charge card number, an inventory number, or a number signifying a
volume of transactions. Data without a descriptive definition or context is meaningless.
Data is the raw material that supports information and the basis for intelligent actions and decisions.
not all numbers are created equal. Some are essentially extraneous material that
takes up space and obstructs access to desired data. To enhance
efficiency, data must be effectively gathered, organized, and stored so
it is easy to access and transform into meaningful information.
may be gathered in variety of manners. Common tools for gathering and
recording these critical numbers include dbases, check sheets, bar-code readers, optical character
readers, direct process inputs, and voice-activated entry.
One creates information
from patterns in the data. Information provides meaning and
understanding from the numbers. In other words, information is data in
context and useable material. According to Larry P. English, author of
Improving Data Warehouse and Information Quality, quality information
includes three components...
1) Clear definition and meaning of data
2) Correct value(s)
3) Understandable presentation (format)
of any of these components can cause a business process to fail or a
wrong decision. English finds that information may be
represented as a formula:
Information = Data + Definition + Presentation
Knowledge is considered "information in context" or "information in action," and it can be tacit or explicit.
Tacit (informal, uncodified)... Knowledge includes history, memories and experience. Example of knowledge includes employee's training,
customer's relationship, and vendor history. Tacit
knowledge may be difficult to catalog, sometimes highly experiential, sometimes difficult to
document in any detail, sometimes ephemeral, and sometimes transitory.
· Explicit (formal, codified) information documented in books, procedures, white papers, databases, and policy manuals.
types of knowledge are important. English contends that knowledge means
understanding the significance of information and may be represented by
the following formula:
Knowledge = People + Information + Significance
itself won't advance the organization. It has power only to
the extent that people are able to act on their knowledge.
In keeping with his other concepts, English offers this formula for calculating wisdom:
Wisdom = People + Knowledge + Action
allows organizations to exploit the value of their resources toward
accomplishing the corporate mission. To generate wisdom, you must provide people
with training with quality information. You must allow people to act upon and
experience the outcomes of their decisions.