The Evolution of Information - Master of Information

We live in an age where information is more accessible than ever before. When we understand the evolution and benefits of this information we can harness its power to make decisions that improve our organizations and daily lives. To learn more, checkout this infographic created by Rutgers University’s Online Master of Information.

What Is Data?

Data is a collection of facts in the form of numbers, videos, writing, pictures, and sounds. On its own, data merely exists as trivia and is not considered informational. Companies, charities, and individuals often collect data in all of the ways listed above in the hope of one day organizing these details into information, which will become useful. Data could be a collection of memorabilia from a family’s history, news archives from a historic event, real-time details about a world event, or personal statistics in a hospital computer system.

What Is Information?

Information is data that is accurate and timely, presented within a context that gives it meaning and relevance, is specific and organized for a purpose, and can lead to an increase in understanding and a decrease in uncertainty.

What Is Knowledge?

Information becomes knowledge when one uses that information to effect change. Knowledge is based on the interpretation of patterns, such as trends, formed with other information and experience.

Too Much Data

Currently, many organizations collect data for its own sake without putting it to any use. This data does not become information or knowledge. Rutgers Online estimates that 2.5 Exabytes of data are created daily, a figure that doubles ever 40 months or just over 3 years. Of the data currently circulating worldwide, 90% of it was created in the past 2 years. Until it is utilized to change people’s lives or companies’ fortunes, it remains merely useless data, although there is the potential for someone to mine, organize, and present data at a later time, thanks to modern computer storage capacity and methods.

Information Technology

When IBM released their first hard drive in 1956, it was the size of two refrigerators pushed together. By 2002, digital storage was finally able to outstrip analog storage at a fraction of the size. By 2007, estimated storage capacity for all electronic devices had risen from 3 Exabytes in 1986 to 295 Exabytes. This figure doubles every 3 years. Data is stored without much structure and retrieved from many sources.

Transmission of Data

The three phases of data usage begin with transmission which can be directed between two channels or generally disseminated, such as a TV or radio broadcast. Transmission is manipulated to suit a purpose–to spread news worldwide or to be employed for a specific application. The capacity of computers to perform new functions and store data improves rapidly.

Quality of Data

While millions of facts and figures are collected, some articles of data are of high quality and others are not. Successful organizations must discern which pieces are worth keeping and which to discard. Their businesses choose worthy data based on the authenticity of sources and the usefulness of data in order to create information and knowledge, which benefits a company’s bottom line or an organization’s mission.

Sources of Data

Details arrive from many sources. These include social media, which is any vehicle accessible by the public to disseminate personal data, although this medium is also used by businesses to promote products and by organizations to share ideas. Examples include Twitter, MySpace, and Pinterest. GPS programming enables organizations to create positional data relating to customers or employees such as where their sales teams are working or where taxi drivers take most of their passengers. Loyalty cards enable stores to track customer behavior and trends such as how quickly they will cash in points or which rewards they are willing to save longer towards. These firms can use the data they collect to determine if a reward card is of benefit or costing the company more than it is worth. Market research tools, CRM systems and mobile devices, and other sources provide data for firms and agencies, which filter them in search of potentially useful information. They have to determine the reliability of their data in order to best utilize what these sources reveal.

Bottom Line

Companies that do this successfully are able to track trends and phases in consumer activity. They are better informed about what their customers want and their purchasing habits. The integrity of their information allows these firms to serve their customers, achieve positive reputations, to behave efficiently, and they grow. These companies watch their profits rise.
Businesses sometimes utilize data from unidentified or inauthentic sources, which lack authority and integrity. Research teams fail to collect and effectively organize data into some form of useful context and cannot turn these details into reliable or profitable information. They are disarmed by a lack of knowledge about their market, the competition, and about their potential or existing customers. Rutgers’ research indicates that these firms compromise their bottom line by relying on poor sources or they fail to use good sources effectively.
Information technology enables competitive companies to make real-time decisions based on data about what their clients and competitors are doing. They respond quickly and profitably to world events before similar businesses. Implicitly, however, choosing the right people to mine and employ data remains critical to an organization’s profitability and longevity.

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