Information system in business question

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Information Systems

Differences between Data, Information, and Knowledge

David Mc Candless, draws significant attention to the difference between data, information and knowledge. Data, information, and knowledge have remained largely undistinguished in most educational systems with most schools focusing on delivery of information as opposed to knowledge (Ackoff & Rovin, 2003). As such, this discussion seeks to differentiate the three as well as highlighting some of the examples provided by Mc Candless in his presentation (Mc Candless, 2010). Data refers to symbols used to represent properties of a phenomenon, events, and objects (Ackoff & Rovin, 2003). An important aspect of data as a symbol is that unless processed, and converted into information it cannot make sense or be of any value. An example of data provide by Mc Candless is the OPEC’S revenue figure of 780 billion a year (Mc Candless, 2010). Unless this figure is broken down into, specific uses it remains data because nothing can be decipher from it.

On the other hand, information is data transformed into meaningful descriptions. As such is information comprises of descriptions that provide answers to specific questions formed from data (Ackoff & Rovin, 2003). For example, information seeks to fill in answers to questions such as who, what, how many among others. Mc Candless clearly demonstrates this by providing details on the data on the amount spent by America in 2003 (Mc Candless, 2010). Explanations on to how much was spent in doing what help understand the descriptions of American’s generous people. Lastly, Knowledge arises from the answers provided inform of information. Such answers enable people to response to issues or make appropriate decisions based on the knowledge they have about a phenomenon (Ackoff & Rovin, 2003). For example, the knowledge obtained from visualization of the data on Africa’s debt would help policymakers to formulate policies to reduce the debt in future.


Ackoff, R., & Rovin, S. (2003). Redesigning society. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Mc Candless, D (Producer). (2010). The beauty of data visualization. TEDGlobal2010. Retrieved from