Data, Information, Information Technology and Information Systems

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Management information systems play an integral role in enhancing the performance of a business. It provides managers with tools to support processes, intelligence, operations and IT. Consequently, MIS enhances strategic decision-making, communication and cooperation. This article outlines the key differences between data, information, information technology and information systems.

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What is the Difference Between Data and Information?

Data refers to unorganized facts that need further processing to be meaningful. Data interpretation is normally done by machine or human. Data is always gathered for translation and analysis. The most common types of data include single character, text, number, picture, Boolean, sound and video.

On the other hand, information is data that has been processed, aggregated and organized into a format that is comprehensible, provides more context and useful to human. Information is frequently delivered in the form of report, dashboards and data visualizations. Information concentrates on the user requirements; therefore, giving it significance since it is the outcome of interpreted data with a logical meaning. It is imperative to note that information cannot exist without its building block—data. Information possesses relevance, specific context and purpose. The key differences between the two are highlighted in the matrix below

Differences between Data and Information
Data Information
·         Data are raw facts ·         Information is processed data with meaning.
·         Data is based on records and observations ·         Information is based on interpretation and analysis.
·         Data is always unorganized ·         Information is organized.
·         Data is measured in bits and bytes ·         Information is measured using parameters such as time, date and quantity among others.
·         Data is not specific ·         Information is specific
·         Data is in the form of letters, a set of characters and numbers. ·         Information is in the form of inferences and ideas.


As outlined in the definition, data are raw facts whereas information is processed data with a meaning. Thus, information can be used in decision making.  Additionally, data is based on observation and recording of variables in the form of letters, numbers or characters while information is based on the interpretation and analysis of the variables to provide inferences and ideas.

Therefore, information is organized, logical and specific unlike data which is unorganized. Lastly, data is normally measured in bits and bytes while information is measured using parameters such as date, time and quantity. An example of data is ticket sales in a concert. Information that can be processed from this can be in the form of ticket sales report by time. This gives information when the highest number of ticket sales was realized during the concert.

Difference between Information Technology and Information System

Information technology (IT) refers to the study, design, implementation and management of computer-based information system for data processing and communication. It involves technological storage, transfer and accessibility of data.

On the other hand, information systems (IS) refer to a combination of software, hardware and telecommunication networks that collect, process, store and disseminate information to aid in decision making, control, coordination, analysis and visualization in an organizational setting. Therefore, information systems act as the bridge between the user and technology.

The five components model can be used to contrast information technology and information system. The model comprises of computer hardware, software, databases, people and procedure. The main difference between the two is that information technology is a combination of products, methods, standards and interventions used to produce information.

On the other hand, an information system refers to an assembly of software, hardware, procedure and people that produces the information. Therefore, IS has the components of people and procedures which makes it effective in an organization. On the other hand, IT is a subset of IS that drives the development of new information systems.

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