When discussing data quality, we need to understand exactly what we mean by the word data. Often, the words information and data are used interchangeably, yet they are not the same thing.
Data is, or are (depending on your knowledge of Latin), fundamental to business intelligence. But how do we recognise data as data – and why is bad data such a pernicious entity?
First Things First: Data vs Information
There’s a really simple way to understand the difference between data and information. When we understand the primary function of the item we are looking at, we quickly see the distinction between the two.
Here’s a simple way to tell one from the other:
Computers need data. Humans need information.
Data is a building block. Information gives meaning and context.
In essence, data is raw. It has not been shaped, processed or interpreted. It is a series of 1s and zeros that humans would not be able to read (and nor would they want to). It is disorganised and unfriendly.
Once data has been processed and turned into information, it becomes palatable to human readers. It takes on context and structure. It becomes useful for businesses to make decisions, and it forms the basis of progress.
While the bigger picture is slightly more complex, this gets us part way towards understanding what data means
- answered 5 years ago
- Sunny Solu