AQA Information and Communication Technology/ICT4/Information and Data
We originally covered this in the very first topic of the specification. We'll be building on what we already know in this topic.
Transcription is what occurs when data is formatted and entered onto the system. This can affect the accuracy of the data though, as errors occur during transcription.
Electronic Data Interchange (or EDI) is the most error free method of transcription. It is the movement of data from one system to another electronically.
You should select the most appropriate data capture techniques for the quantity and quality of data. Remember GIGO! Garbage In = Garbage Out. We've already covered data capture and verification and validation, so reviewing those areas are important.
We originally looked at the importance of data in ICT1. In ICT4, we're going to be covering the characteristics of information.
For information to be of use, it must be:
- Relevant to the needs of the organisation
- Easily interpretable (turning it into knowledge)
Information has 8 characteristics
Information can originate
- Internally (as a result of processing transactions inside the organisation, for example)
- Externally, either in the forms of
- General external information (Treasury reports on the economy, for example)
- Operational external information (Information from suppliers, for example)
Additionally, we can say that information is
- Primary, where the information is first hand and gathered from the raw data by the business
- Secondary, where information has already been collected by other people
Information is either:
- Qualitative (judgements and comments)
- Quantitative (numerical)
and can be collected
- Formally (collected through official channels, and tends to be more precise)
- Informally (through channels such as newspapers, where information may be more vague)
We already know that information can be:
- Operational (as a result of events and transactions)
- Tactical (such as how fast lines are selling so they can make decisions)
- Strategic (showing the "bigger picture" and helping to make long-term decisions)
Here, we can classify information into:
- Historical (records from the past)
- Future (for predicting trends)
Information is provided to us
- In real-time, where the information is up-to-date as of that moment
- Periodically, where information is only updated after a certain length of time (minutely, hourly, daily, etc.)
What is the information going to be used for?
- Planning (strategical)
- Control (operational)
- Decisions (tactical)
How are we receiving the information?
- Written (reports)
- Visual (charts, etc.)
Information can be:
- Sampled (snap shots of the organisation)
- Aggregated (built up over time)
- Disaggregated (separating the various functions of the organisation)
Quality of information
Information is required to make informed decisions, but it's only good if it's useful. For information to be useful, there are certain characteristics we should be considering.
- Information overload is a major problem
- Only sufficient information is required, so it must be factual, concise, summarised and selective
- This is fairly obvious. Information is only useful if it's accurate.
- If information is inaccurate, user confidence will be lost, so a confidence rating (how accurate it is) must be given to the information.
- Assumptions and probabilities should be clearly stated.
- How up-to-date the data must be vary according to need. Sales figures could be a week old, for example, but booking information must be accurate to a few seconds.
- If information arrives too late, it is not useful
- For example, if "best selling lines" figures arrive after a replinishment order has been made this is of little use.
- If the information is made too brief, information is lost.
- If information is too detailed, the meaning may be lost.
- Trends may be better shown in a chart
- Tables may be better for some numerical data.
The way in which information is presented will affect the value that the audience place on it. Information presented in an unprofessional or unplanned way may reduce the impact of the information.
Popular methods of presentation include:
- Computer Printouts
The form of presentation depends on what you're trying to present.
- Graphs and charts
- Pie charts are good for showing shares, but too many segments make the chart too cluttered and is off-putting
- Line charts are good ways of showing trends over time
- Printed presentations
- Bullet points are good for this
- Use of charts are effective for displaying numerical information
We already know that information is a commodity, and like many other commodities, correct marketing will make it easier for an organisation to present its data.