Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Turning Data into Information is Just the Beginning

Final day for me at the Semantic Technology conference in San Jose. I ended this trip with a renewed appreciation for the bigger picture of knowledge management to create and leverage true Intelligence for an organization. In some organizations we are so focused on turning raw data into usable information, we sometimes lose sight of how we can continue to add value to our information assets to turn them into a true competitive advantage.

The following picture shows the full story on the "Intelligence Pyramid" that will add exponentially more value to an organization. I won't take credit for this pyramid, sometimes referred to the "Wisdom Pyramid", but I will share my personal recreation of it.

Lets walk through these 4 stages starting at the bottom, and provide some additional context:
  • Data - This can be described as the raw data that would typically support a company's operational processes. For all you ETL buffs, the "Source System". - "What is happening?"

  • Information - Transformed information that is not in IT terms, but in business terms and is consumable by the business for reporting and analytical needs. - "What does it mean?"

  • Knowledge - Taking the Information we have prepared in the previous step and enriching it with relationships and correlations that start to "tell the story" of what an organization's data contains. - "What do we already know and why?"

  • Intelligence - The holy grail, we have leveraged all the previous stages to put all this data to work to develop action plans to resolve the business problem or challenge. - "What do we do?"
This is the true power of data! This goal can not be accomplished by traditional BI tools and techniques alone. We need to add a mix of other technologies that are better at representing relationships and data (i.e. semantic technology), and most importantly to bring together the right people to look at all this data from their different perspectives. With the right mix, we can deliver value to the organization that will pay back the investment in data many, many times over.



Karen Unger said...

Great, concise comments on what goes into the difference between data (a plethora of random bits) and truly useable information that helps make decisions. Thanks!
Karen Unger
American Document Management

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