Business information is derived from the interpretation of data, and it is the basis upon which informed decisions are made.
To the extent that all organisations are concerned to acquire information, to store it, to analyse it in some way, and to use it to take decisions about what to do in particular circumstances, then information can be seen as the lifeblood of any organisation. It must be seen separately from data, which is merely the representation of information, (usually, in the present context, a digital representation). However, there is a strong preference amongst most managers (and amongst many technical specialists) to think about what they do with information, rather than how the design of the information is best conceived, organised and presented. At a time when data is overwhelming us and we desire more than anything else to convert it into information, careless ideas about information design, leading to poor database design, can be a killer problem.
Chen, H., Chiang, R.H. & Storey, V.C. (2012) Business intelligence and analytics: from big data to big impact. MIS Quarterly, 36 (4), pp.1165–1188.
Hsinchun Chen and colleagues identify three eras within which the world has become awash with information: The first is a data-structured era based on conventional database resources; the second is web-based and acknowledges the availability of vast amounts of business information as well as blogs and social networking sites; the third is perhaps still just on the horizon, where mobile equipment, tags and sensors of all kinds are beginning to originate data that relates to the “Internet of things”. They point out that in the third era data is (or will be) “location-aware”, “person-centred” and “context-relevant”.
This long paper is actually a preamble to a special issue of MISQ but it is well worth a read if you feel uninformed about big data, business intelligence and business analytics. The papers that follow in the special issue cover marketing, customer satisfaction, strategic decision making, banking and fraud.
Mithas, S., Ramasubbu, N. & Sambamurthy, V. (2011) How information management capability influences firm performance. MIS Quarterly, 35 (1), pp.237–256.
Using a very large archival data set, and seeking to move from ideas about information technology to information management in organisations, Sunil Mithas and colleagues looked at the ways that information management competencies in organisations affect other functional capabilities. They found that three very important areas are specifically enhanced by good information management: customer management, process management and performance management; these in turn improve organisation performance in four classically important areas: customer service, financial results, human resource effectiveness and overall organisational performance. This paper provides a useful history of previous work and sets out fundamentals that could be the foundations of further work, for example looking at the effects of Sarbanes-Oxley and other international compliance procedures, and practitioner-based initiatives such as COBIT.
Stone, Z., Zickler, T. & Darrell, T. (2010) Toward large-scale face recognition using social network context. Proceedings of the IEEE, 98 (8), pp.1408–1415.
Zak Stone and colleagues provide an interesting, short, and optimistic (but somewhat mathematical) introduction to issues and methods of face recognition on the social web. I am not convinced that their positive optimism is warranted; they conclude with this assertion: “Ultimately, the growth of online social networks, the development of improved social tagging systems, and the increasing interconnectivity of the web have the potential to enhance our ability to achieve face recognition at scale. Exploring computational techniques that take advantage of these trends seems a worthwhile endeavor”. Really worthwhile? What do you think?