Wednesday, 28 January 2009

difference between data,information and knowledge


Data, Information and Knowledge these are the important terms in the organization these are the base and assets of the organizations. I will try to define each of the terms and their use in the organizations and difference between them with my conclusion.


Data can be defined in many ways as it is used in different field like in computer field the meaning of data is different from the business field..I want to give a common definition that can define what data is

It is numbers, words or pictures which don't have any context, data is mainly used as input or storing. Mostly data don't have any meaning till it have any information. (BBC  10-02-2009), ex:4.00pm,rain,john,hendon.

(Ackoff 2004) "data is raw.It is simply exists and has no significance beyond its existence. It can exist in any form usable or not. It does not have meaning of itself".

Now a days organizations are considering data as an asset which is very important to an organization. In my organization where i worked in India they consider company data like customer data employees data as a very important, these data is not allowed to accessed by every one, we had an big issue regarding that some of our customer data was sold to our competitors by our staff for money this type of things may risk organization survival.


The definition of information from( business dictionary retrieved on 11-02-2009) is "raw data that has been verified to be accurate and timely, is specific and organized for a purpose is presented within a context that gives its meaning and relevance and which leads to increase in understanding and decrease in uncertainty".

"Information may be defined as the characteristics of the output of a process, these being informative about the process and the input". (M.Losee 199?).

I can strongly support these definitions by my experie

nce in my organization. we used to have customer data like customer name and his phone number we have to call them and find his interested vehicle, price rage, his financial position etc we used to collect all his data and make them into as meaningful information so that we can refer it afterwards. we categories these customer information as interested or not interested customers. this information helps us to find the genuine customers.

information can be defined as collection of numbers, words or pictures which is having a meaning. information is data that which have the context. Information is understanding of data.


knowledge is the term which is making confused many from many years, from ancient many scholars and priests  searched for knowledge and for the meaning of knowledge. Now many organizations recognized the importance of knowledge and searching for it within the organization to use for there organizational goals.

I want to share some of the definitions that  define  knowledge are as follows.

(Barclay and Murray 199?)  Knowledge has two basic definitions of interest. The first pertains to a defined body of information. depending on the definition, the body of inf

ormation might consists of facts, opinions, ideas, theories, principles, and models. Clearly, other categories are possible, too. subject matter(e.g., chemistry, mathematics, etc.) is just one possibility. Knowledge also refers to a person's state of being with respect to somebody of information. These states include ignorance, awareness, familiarity, understanding, facility, and so on.

"The ability of people and organizations to understand and act effectively-has regularly been managed by managers, coworkers, and proactive individuals. those responsible for survival in competitive environments always have worked to build the best possible knowledge within their area of responsibility". (M.Wiig 1999). I think this is the best definition for an knowledge within an organization where knowledge has to be maintained  and developed by the managers.

But some says that(Einstein 199?)"knowledge is experience. everything else is just information"..

I think experience is the part of the knowledge but  we cant say that who has experience he is having knowledge. For example: even though managers have many years of experience there is a chance of doing mistakes because of lack of knowledge.

from the above definitions i can understand that knowledge is understanding about the information in a correct manner, and able to take decisions by past experience. knowledge is knowing anything completely. Ex:as there was a decrease in the sales by 10% from past two months management taken decision to decrease the price of products to increase sales.Here the management took the data of sales and the past two months experience and decide to take a new strategy by  using their knowledge

Deference between data, information and knowledge:

After getting an idea on definitions of data, information and knowledge now I can differentiate between them. In an organization data, information and knowledge are three different terms and different meaning even though they are using for same purpose.

we can say that data is not information and information is not knowledge. Data are basic facts-unallied, with little or no value outside their own existence.

ex: A tree is a tree merely defines that object. It says nothing of it's structure, its purpose, its value. It tells us nothing about forests or forestry or uses of it. Informati

on is when we integrate the existence of a tree with the existence of say, furniture. Knowledge is when we take the information about the tree and use it to uniform either forestry or furniture manufacture. Knowledge management is when we when we codify knowledge and convert it to useful information.


My Conclusion:

My lecturer Abubaker gave an a simple example for the difference between kid,he gave an example of medical transcription slip which is a data for a printing press person and it will be an information to the customer and it will be a knowledge for a chemist or doctor.

Here we can observe that the transcription slip dint changed only the people and the way of their think changed, by this we can say that the way of looking or understanding decides

whether the given is data or information or knowledge and it only depends on the observer.

I want to give an diagram(fig.1) to demonstrate difference between these three by my own words.   

Fig.1 Vision of Knowledge , Information and data.


Here in this diagram the object is same but the amount of understanding of the object is only different, less understandable is data and understanding more than data is information and  understanding completely about the object or subject is knowledge.



Retrieved on (BBC 10-02-2009)-


(Ackoff) posted in data, information, knowledge and wisdom by Bellinger, Castro, Mills (2004).

Retrieved from a discipline independent definition of information by (M.Losee.11-02-2009).


(O.Barclay and C.Murray 199?) retrived on 11-02-2009.


(Einstein 199?)  Retrived on 11-02-2009.





  1. Its good for starters and Ii think you mean CONTEXT instead of CONTENT in the definition of Data and Information

  2. hi, i use content instead of context as i feel content has more meaning and understanding than the context.i buffered many sites and journals but i dint get any proper difference between them.if you get any proper difference you can forward me.

  3. You cannot just choose one word over another because you cannot find what you want online. The English language is possibly the richest in the world and most of it was established long before the Internet or the Web. So, Rose is right. 'Content' is wrong and 'context' would make you posting have some sense.

    Even after making that substitution I cannot support your statements. The examples have meaning, even without context.

    Your argument is flawed because you have tried to do it in absolute terms. You need to really think of the concepts in terms of organisations: they bring context, and often within one organisation context keeps changing.

    Please give your position supported by argument, (Havrvard-style) references to authoritative sources (in this context the BBC is NOT) and examples in organisations.