How to differentiate between data and information

The modern day entire world generates and employs a certainly astounding total of data, but it places a lot less of a concentration on context – to its individual detriment.

Such was the concept put forward by Simon Ratcliffe, principal expert at Ensono, in his session at Computing‘s IT Leaders Forum very last yr, targeted on data tactic and literacy.

“A single of the matters we can be completely certain about in the modern day entire world is that there is a good deal of data, and we are all staying driven toward working with data to make our conclusions,” mentioned Ratcliffe. But, he added, he’s “not in fact a huge enthusiast of data.” At the finish of the day, “it can be just a bunch of figures.” Attempting to use those people figures to make conclusions is rather challenging what is essential is information, or data with context.

This is not just a semantic argument, he added: it can be about how we strategy data and information, and how we develop wisdom inside of our organisations.

We talk about data all the time in the modern day entire world: data scientists, main data officers, data lakes and data warehouses. But from time to time, “we variety of skip the place,” and must go back again to principles to revise what we’re in fact looking for.

For case in point, it is way too easy to finish up with figures with out context. What is the variety? What does it indicate? But give it context, and the data gets information: it tells us a thing. For case in point, the variety 5,000 means nothing on its individual. Incorporate ‘feet’ and you all of a sudden know the variety refers to length. Then you can utilize other information, or correlate it with other data inside of your organisation, to transform information into knowledge.

“The very last piece of the puzzle [(wisdom)] is critical, and regrettably I believe it can be the component that we rather typically are unsuccessful to unlock in our data methods,” Ratcliffe added.

“If we can derive wisdom from our data, it provides benefit to our organisation. Until finally that place it can be just truth with out interpretation.”

On-demand videos of the total day – together with bespoke analysis from Computing about data literacy and a situation study about the use of data in a health care setting – can be found on the function site now.