Data, information, and knowledge are interrelated terms and often used interchangeably because of the confusion that exists in differentiating the terms. Nevertheless, it is important to note that data, information, and knowledge are completely different terms with independent meanings. This essay seeks to compare and contrast the terms data, information, and knowledge. Additionally, the essay also explores the implications of confusing these terms in systems development.
Badia (2014) refers to data as the fundamental depiction of materials, activities, or transactions that are obtained, sorted, and kept before they are organized in a way that can relay a particular meaning. When data is properly organized to provide a specific meaning, the relayed meaning can be referred to as information. Knowledge, on the other hand, comprises organized data and information that is aimed at providing an understanding, expertise, or a general learning experience about the situation at hand.
In the Big Bank scenario, the different locations of the organization require data, information, and knowledge for their daycare service. The locations can obtain data about the number of employees and the number of children for each employee benefitting from this service. The children would then be grouped according to information about their parents’ ID number, work location, or the children’s date of birth, gender, and last names. The dietary restrictions about each child also constitute the information to be obtained. After these locations have had collected data and information about the children, they will gain knowledge about the type and amount of food to be availed in each location. These will form a database for the daycare department of the company.
If an information system developer mixes up the terms data, information, and knowledge, it may affect both the employees and the company. Such mix-ups could result in the feeding of children’s information incorrectly. This could result in misfortunes such as releasing the wrong child, or releasing a child to the wrong parent, feeding children food they are allergic to, and so on. As Boris (2016) explains, designing an information system without properly differentiating the three terms (data, information, and knowledge) could lead to syntax, logical, or semantic errors. The system may end up giving the unintended results or may not even respond properly. Thus, it is important for information system analysts to properly understand each of the terms and the type of material each relates to.
- Badia, A. (2014). Data, information, knowledge: An information science analysis. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 65(6), 1279-1287. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/asi.23043
- Bosančić, B. (2016). Knowledge Acquisition Process as an Issue in Information Sciences (Proces stjecanja znanja kao problem informacijskih znanosti). Libellarium: Journal for the Research of Writing, Books, and Cultural Heritage Institutions, 9(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.15291/libellarium.v9i1.249