“When you know more about something, you appreciate it less.” – Richard Bach
Information, in a broad sense, consists of processed, structured and organised information. It gives meaning to data and allows decision making to be made. For instance, a single customer’s sale in a restaurant is information albeit not consciously evident, this becomes information once the company is able to discern the most common or least common dish on the menu.
How can information processing and knowledge management impact your business? One implication is that information processed in your business will in turn have an effect on your business ROI (return on investment). The more information you process, the more you learn and the more value you create. With knowledge management, you are able to provide relevant and accurate information to decision makers and stakeholders. So an important skill is knowledge management itself.
Secondly, knowledge management includes decision analysis, forecasting and trading. Decision analysis is used to provide information about the strategic priorities and future plans for your business. Forecasting is used to project the effects of information sources on the market. Trading is used to make decisions based on forecasts and other external factors.
Thirdly, the use of information systems requires an understanding of how people and organizations use and access information systems. This can be best done by engaging in formal information science research, either at a university or through industry-sponsored research programmes. You may want to conduct some informal research yourself by reading relevant books on information systems and asking others for their views.
Lastly, information systems have many forms and levels of complexity depending on the type of information source. For instance, a simple information system may contain lists, maps and diagrams. Complex information systems may include computer applications that produce and manipulate a large number of information sources including databases, web pages and electronic documents. At higher levels of complexity, information systems can incorporate complex networks and micro-processes that support business processes.
In line with this, organizations may seek information from many different sources. The internet has made this easier by the proliferation of various internet technology companies that provide business tools for information processing. Information seeking people use computers, handheld devices and the internet for their sources of information. Sometimes they even print out documents for hard copies.
Organizations and people need to understand the difference between information sources, information processes and information Literacy. They also need to learn how to manage information sources, information processes and information Literacy competently. Management of information sources involves the identification, selection and use of suitable information sources. Information processes involve the organization’s process of gathering information. Information Literacy involves the ability to use this information in a meaningful way in the process of decision making. Individuals who seek information Literacy in other contexts such as education, business or politics are likely those who lack information literacy.
Organizations, people and decision makers who seek information may be at the mercy of information overload. overload may result in poor decisions, dysfunctional organizations, loss of competitive advantage and disruption of markets. The use of this overload may have damaging effects on society and could lead to social and political crisis.