Posted by: vanzylw
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Defining Data Management as a discipline can be tricky, primarily because there are different views on what data exactly is, and how it is related to information. It is important to define what data and what information means in your organization, before embarking on formalizing a data management discipline.
I personally like the definition that data are a collection of recorded artifacts that may consist of various elements made up of numbers, words or images, or a combination of those elements. This definition of data is scoped not only to include data stored in information systems, but also data stored elsewhere in the enterprise, and yes that include all those piles of paper stored somewhere!
It is important to note that data in itself does not have any meaning, but needs to be interpreted to have meaning, either through a data processing system or by human interpretation. By interpreting data, we are informed, hence information is based on data interpretation. However being informed does not mean that we can make proper decisions based on that information. We need to understand the relation of a piece of information to other information we have. And this in essence is what I believe knowledge is. Through expertise and skills we acquire through experience and education, we are able to build these relationships between information pieces in a way that gives us a confident understanding of a subject matter so that we can apply it for a specific purpose. And all of this is based on data. If the quality of the data we base our information on is of a poor quality, so will our knowledge of that subject be.
Next time I’ll discuss some of the disciplines that I believe form a critical part of data management.