Information Literacy – The Fourth Wave For the 21st Century
In a nutshell, information is processed, structured and organised data. It gives context to data and allows creative decision making by businesses. For instance, a single consumer’s sale in a restaurant is personalised data-this becomes information once the business has been able to establish the average or most common dish for that particular day.
In other words, all businesses make use of information. However, the nature of business and the way it works make use of different types of information. Here, data is used to make decisions based on knowledge of effectiveness, reliability and quality. Thus, data is used to generate reports and this generates new knowledge about how things should be done, marketed better. As such, even though data processing does not lend itself to a one-size-fits-all answer (which is why some businesses need multiple types of data), there are core principles which can be used to make sense of continuous data.
Continuous improvement is an important aspect of information systems. By developing and maintaining formal information systems and informal knowledge management practices, organizations can reap maximum benefits from their systems. Organisations should make use of information sources that are available to them and which have been tried and tested. By making better use of information sources available to them, they can avoid reinventing the wheel and develop a workable formal information system that they can implement themselves in the long run.
In other words, organizations should develop a culture of information literacy. This can be done by encouraging staff to be more aware of the information sources that are available to them and in turn this will encourage them to share this information with others. The culture of information literacy will make people more responsible users of the tools and information systems available to them. It will also make them more likely to get things right. People, even highly educated professionals, are often ignorant of many different aspects of the world around them. For this reason, organizations must ensure that formal methods of information management, such as risk assessment, are incorporated into everyday operations.
At the same time, people may lack a particular skill or knowledge required to exploit a particular type of information source. Where there is a lack of available information the organisation may fall back on replication, which is the process of creating duplicates of previously produced information to compensate for the fact that the original source is no longer available. This is sometimes a viable strategy, but only in the short term; what is needed in order to sustain a meaningful life-cycle in electronic sources (such as electronic manuals) is an ongoing commitment to quality and an evaluation of the impacts of duplication on productivity, profit and reputation. Organizations that are serious about improving the quality of their reproduction of information must also become serious about evaluation of the impacts of duplication on the organisation as a whole.
Finally, organisations that do not engage in proper evaluation will be those that suffer from the most deficiencies in their information systems. Evaluation can help identify gaps in information systems that will, if left unchecked, grow into major problems. By allowing information literacy to flourish through effective evaluation of information sources and practices, businesses and organisations can improve their information literacy and increase their productivity at the same time.