For reference and analysis, data is facts and statistics that have been collected. Data may be less useful and less contextual than information. Information is often the result of analysis, correlation, and enrichment of data (Shen, 2020). From a computational point of view, data is symbols, characters, numbers, attributes, or values (Computer Hope, 2021) that a computer processes with its CPU and stores on the computer’s disk in the form of binary code, 0’s and 1’s (Data Definition, 2006). In other words, data is raw initial values that can be used to draw conclusions and form more valuable information (Shen, 2020). Data can be quantitative, qualitative, nominal, ordinal, discrete, and continuous (TechTarget, n.d.).
Information is often referred to as data. Data may be information, but only if that data is meaningful to the receiver. Information has meaning to the person that is using it. After data is processed into something useful, it becomes information (TechTarget, n.d.). information is organized, but data is raw and unorganized (Hill, 2021).
Knowledge occurs when information is added to experience in a way that is useful. Knowledge leads to understanding, which means that it is really consciousness added to information, adding intelligence (whether human or artificial) to the information (Taylor, 2022). The Britannica Dictionary defines knowledge as “information, understanding, or skill that you get from experience or education” and “awareness of something” (Knowledge Definition & Meaning, n.d.)
Companies, especially recently, have determined that collecting massive amounts of consumer data gives them a competitive advantage in the market, and help build “competitive defenses.” Mining that data and converting that data into actionable information is the challenge that keeps many companies from leveraging their data (Hagiu & Wright, 2019). Information then gives companies a competitive advantage as it guides decisions, reduces reaction time for change, makes the business more efficient, gives insight, and can be used for predictions and forecasting. Those insights and predictions, efficiencies, and informed decisions can give an organization a competitive advantage over its competitors. Michael Porter, the Harvard scholar that developed Porter’s 5 Forces wrote in the July 1985 issue of the Harvard Business Review said that computer systems are creating more data and information than ever before, and that technology is now used for analysis of that data. Porter says that information technology is useful for creating linkages and interrelationships within data inside the company and between businesses (Porter & Millar, 2014). The knowledge and awareness of these informative insights is the competitive advantage that is gained by analyzing data and information.
In decision-making, data management solutions help managers find relevant information, search, correlate, and analyze data in order to forecast or make insightful decisions. Data management solutions give consistent delivery of data and help business improve their outcomes (Data Management Software & Solutions, n.d.).
Knowledge management systems (KMS) are IT systems that store and retrieve knowledge. They are often indexed and highly searchable systems. They can store data in structured databases or as unstructured documents. They can exist in Sharepoint, Hubspot, Wikis, CRMs, and many other solutions. They usually contain an FAQ, a forum/community, how-to articles, tutorials, education programs, certificates, case studies, and webinars. Customer-facing knowledge management systems are great for support sites, improving customer experience to keep them coming back. Internal knowledge management systems are used by the operations team, support staff, customer service teams, etc. (HubSpot, n.d.). Monday.com indicates that a knowledge management system is the single source of truth for external and internal parties to store and deliver information efficiently (Monday.com, 2022).
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