Did you like the database webinar last month ? The one about Corporate Data Review? If you did, then you’ll love this upcoming free webinar!

Welcome to our fourth monthly Database webinar. Doug Tombow will introduce you to some key concepts as well as provide some understandable examples of what you should be thinking about regarding getting useful information from your existing corporate data.

Topics presented:

  • What’s the difference between data and information?
  • Information drives our best decisions!
  • Gleaning information from data
  • A workable starting point

When: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 from 11:00 AM to 11:30 AM (EST)

Click here to RSVP

The ‘information age’ that surrounds us tends to lack, um, information.  Oh sure, there are plenty of devices and systems collecting data and making it available to us.  But, how easy is to gather the data we need to make a good decision?  Or how useful is that data when we want to make an important decision?

Data and information are very different things.  One is the raw ingredients, the other the finished product.  In other words, data is what we use to create information.

A simple example is a record of a call we received on our cellphone.  It will contain the date & time of when the call was made, the source number, the destination number and the date & time of the end of the call.  Is that record data or information?  Sometimes the distinction is a bit unclear.  That is – without the proper context – the record can appear to be either data or information.

In this example, the call record can be considered information if the question is ‘who called this morning?’  That question can be easily answered with the data contained in the call record.  However, it can only be considered data if the question posed is ‘how often does that caller interrupt my mornings?’  Our context is different (a higher level perspective) which causes the exact same record to be viewed not as the final information but rather ‘one of many’ data items that needs turned into information.

How do we go about transforming data into information?  Ironically, it is by applying some type of ‘data processing’ to the data.   For our call records the processing is simply adding up the total minutes over a certain period of time.  And this creates new data in the process – the total minutes used.  This is considered aggregated data and is the foundation of getting information from the data we have.  As we apply additional data processing to the data – along with additional perspective – we begin to extract the meaningful information our data holds.

Is ‘processed data’ automatically useful information?  No.  Not unless the data is accurate, the processing is accurate and the proper perspective was applied the whole way through.

Also, the data must be a suitable foundation for the information we desire and the processing of it must not change its suitability.  Then, we must apply the appropriate perspective when using the information.  Poorly collected data, processed with inappropriate logic is actually just (more) useless data.  And the world already has too much of that!

Hopefully, you can see the key to turning data into useful information involves much more than simply collecting the data and running a report.  It involves understanding what information we want to get out of the data along with the context which will be used when we analyze the information.  It’s all related and it makes a huge difference in the usefulness of our information.

What tools can we use?  There are a number of tools that we can use to retrieve data.  Each of them have their strengths and weaknesses.  Items like:

  • End User tools (ie, Microsoft Excel, Access)
  • Developer tools (Visual Studio)
  • Server Level Tools (ie SSRS, part of Microsoft’s SQL Server)

The concepts are actually pretty simple, but it might not be immediately obvious.  So let’s get started right now!  Let’s undertake the task of better understanding how to transform our corporate data into useful information.  Information that can be used across all of our business processes.  As usual, it’s actually a simple process that every business owner can get started with immediately.

Take the first step by attending the upcoming Simplex-DBA webinar ‘Turning Data into Information’ on Tues, 4/28/15 at 11 AM EST.  During that session we’ll cover this topic along with a few others to help us understand how we can get the better information from our business data and systems.  After all, that’s the reason we have collected the data in the first place!

I hope you all can attend and look forward to seeing you online.

Doug

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Simplex-dba is part of Simplex-IT, which is an award winning IT services organization located in Hudson, Ohio (between Cleveland and Akron).  Simplex-dba is aimed at maintaining the health, security, performance and usability of corporate data (focusing on Microsoft SQL Server) in the Small to Medium Business world.  Our offerings include monitoring, management, training, proactive maintenance and strategic guidance.  We do so at a fraction of the cost of a full-time dba (DataBase Administrator) or those “big” consulting firms.