Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Definition of Data,Information and Knowledge (DIK)

Article 2:Understanding the terms Data, Information, Knowledge and their relationships

This article is to discuss the terms of Data, Information, Knowledge and their inter-relationship with some authors view and my real life examples.

2.1. Analysis of Data, Information and Knowledge in literature

Data, Information, and Knowledge are the fundamental concepts in the creation of knowledge management in the organizational achievements. Further, these three valuable concepts are the capital and communication facts in an organization. Below I would like to review some author’s view about DIK;

Kogut and Zander (1992) – They have suggested information as “knowledge which can be
transmitted without loss of integrity”
Reflection/Opinion- In my view, this suggestion cannot be fully accepted because, when knowledge transmitted through many knowledgeable people, it could be interpreted with some added knowledge of the person who passes the original knowledge to others.

Wiig (1993) – He has suggested that the information as, “facts organized to describe a situation or condition. Also he has suggested that the knowledge as “the truths, beliefs, perspectives judgements, know-how and methodologies”
Reflection/Opinion- In my view, this suggestion accepted because collected facts giving a meaningful message with some condition and situation. According to Wiig view about knowledge, the knowledge should be gained by each person through above conditions.

Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) – They have suggested information as, “a flow of meaningful messages”, and knowledge as “commitments and beliefs created from these messages”.
Reflection/Opinion- In my view, this suggestion could be acceptable because, in fact information is outcomes of the process of some facts, and based on this information all commitments are taken.

Andrew P.Garvin (1996) – He has suggested that “data organized to become information” and “information put into context to become knowledge”.
Reflection/Opinion- In my view, this suggestion could be acceptable because, organized data should be reflect the information also that information which is put it into a framework that reflect the knowledge.

Allie (1997) – He suggest that “data float in a larger sea of information, and data become information through linking and organizing with other data. Information becomes knowledge when it is analyzed, linked to other information, and compared with what is already known”.
Reflection/Opinion- In my view, this suggestion could not fully acceptable because, he suggest about data that is acceptable but he suggest that the data’s linking with other data’s that create the information how it is possible e.g.: 1 + abcd is it giving any information here? So that it not acceptable. Also he has suggested that information linked to other information to create knowledge. How is it possible the entire situation? In my view I could say that meaning full relevant information linked to create a concept, through that concept knowledge should be reflected.

Spek and Spijkervet (1997) – They have suggested the “data is not yet interpreted symbols”, information is “data with meaning” also they suggested “knowledge is the ability to assign meaning”.
Reflection/Opinion- this suggestion fully acceptable in all condition and situation. According to Nonaka and Andrew concept are similar to Spek and Spijkervet.

Davenport (1997) – He has suggested that the data is “simple observations”, information is “data with relevance and purpose” and knowledge is “valuable information from the human mind”.
Reflection/Opinion- In my view, this suggestion could not fully acceptable because, the definition about information and knowledge are acceptable but how can he say like data as simple observation? Some times that simple observation should be give a meaning in some short of condition and situation.

Debra M.Amidon (1997) –He has suggested the data is “elements of analysis” and “information is data with context” and knowledge is “information with meaning”.
Reflection/Opinion- In my view, this suggestion could be acceptable, similar to Nonaka, Andrew and Spek.

Davenport and Prusak (1998) – They have suggested data is a “set of discrete facts”, information is “a message meant to change the receiver’s perception” and knowledge is “Experiences, values, insights, and contextual information”.
Reflection/Opinion- In my view, this suggestion could be acceptable, similar to Nonaka, Andrew and Spek.

Choo (1998) – He has suggested information as a “subjective construction created primarily in the mind of the user”.
Reflection/Opinion- In my view, this suggestion could not be acceptable in all real situations because he has mentioned only the person.

Tuomi (1999) - He has defined that “data emerge as a result of adding value to information”, and also “knowledge that has been structured and verbalised”.
Reflection/Opinion- In my view, this suggestion could be acceptable in all real situations.

Quigley and Debons (1999) – They have suggested to data, “the text is not answer questions to particular problems” and “information is the text that answers the questions who, when, what or where” also he suggest to “knowledge as a text that answers the questions why and how”.
Reflection/Opinion- In my view, this suggestion could be acceptable in all real situations.

Frances Horibe (1990) – “knowledge is a body of information, technique and experience that coalesce around the particular subject”.
Reflection/Opinion- In my view, this suggestion could be acceptable in all real situations.

Choo et al. (2000) – They have suggested that the “data is facts and messages” and “information is data vested with meaning” and the “knowledge is Justified, true beliefs”.
Reflection/Opinion- In my view, this suggestion could be acceptable in all real situations. This definition is similar to Nonaka, Andrew and Spek.

Nancy.M.Dixon (2000) – He has suggested data that is “information”… that is, data that has been stored, analysed and displayed and is communicated through spoken language, graphic displays and numeric values” and knowledge “as a meaningful links, people make in their minds between information and its application in action in a specific setting”.
Reflection/Opinion- In my view, this suggestion could be acceptable in all real situations.

Juris and Kelley (2002) – They have suggested the “data is comprised of the basic unrefined and generally unfiltered information” and “information is much more refined data that has evolved to the point of being useful for some form of analysis” and “knowledge is resides in the user happens only when human experienced and insight is applied to data and information” .
Reflection/Opinion- In my view, this suggestion could be acceptable in all real situations.

Ellis (2003) – He defined the DIK as, that “data represent facts”, “which are organized into information; when used to by some one to solve a problem”, and “information in turn becomes personal knowledge”.
Reflection/Opinion- In my view, this suggestion could be acceptable in some real situations.

The above definition given by deferent authors defined a common differentiation to data, information and knowledge. They are defined with each other, e.g. information is defined in terms of data and / or knowledge, and knowledge is defined in terms of information.

2.2. Critical Analysis of Data, Information, Knowledge (DIK)

To my observation the author’s defined the term for data is same concept. Because they defined data is like a “Facts”, “no meaning full messages”, “symbols”, “elements”, “a set of discrete values” and “not interpreted”. Therefore in my view the data can be defined as, “data is a set of plain facts”.

To my observation the author’s defined the term for information is same concept. Because they defined information is like a
“Flow of meaningful message”, “Context”, “Data with relevance and purpose”. Therefore in my view the information can be defined as, “meaningful message”.

To define the term Knowledge, the above mentioned author’s defined the term for knowledge is a “Why and how”, “Know how”, “Justified, true belief”, “Commitment and belief”, “Truth and beliefs” and “judgments” some thing that connected with the human minds. Therefore in my view Knowledge can be defined as, “processed in the mind of individual”.

Below I like to discuss the term DIK with some example, when the reader can easy to understand;

Eg: - Wetherbe (2006), A map giving detailed driving directions from one location to another could be considered data. An up to the minute traffic bulletin along the freeway that indicates a traffic slowdown due to construction could be considered information. Awareness of the alternative, back roads route could be considered knowledge. In this case map is considered data, because it does not contain current relevant information that affects the driving time and conditions from one location to other. However, having the current conditions as information is useful only of the individual has knowledge that will enable him or her to turn away the construction zone. The implication is that knowledge has strong practical and reflective elements that distinguish it from information in a given context. Having knowledge implies that can be to solve a problem, whereas having information does not carry the same suggestion. An ability to act is an integral part of being knowledgeable. For example two people in the same context with the same information may not have the same degree of success. Hence there is a difference in the human capability to add value. The differences in ability may be due to differences in experiences, training, and perspective and so on. While data, information and knowledge may all be viewed as assets of an organization, knowledge provide a higher level of meaning about data and information. It conveys meaning and hence tends to be much more valuable, yet more ephemeral.

2.2.1. Inter-Relationship between Data, Information and Knowledge


Data, Information, and Knowledge also have cyclic relationship between them. The above diagram illustrates the cyclic relationship between them. To understand the relationship between information and knowledge is to know where the information is being located. However, information resides in the storage Medias in the form of data or it may be in the human mind as knowledge. If this case, then the overlap between data and information vis-à-vis information and knowledge becomes clear, this also explains many perceive data and information, as well as information and knowledge as interchangeable. “One man’s data can be another man’s knowledge, and vice versa, depending on context” (Stewart, 2002). However, they are not interchangeable in terms of their accepted distinct definitions.
Below I would like to discuss these inter relationship with DIK some real life example

2.3. Reflection from Practice

1) When I was working at the United Nations in Sri Lanka, I conducted survey to collect data and to get a conclusion to provide assistance to the people who were affected by Tsunami and war. As it was a real situation in my job, I can apply KM in the way I got the final decision to assist the victims.
Data collected by survey was processed and a final report was prepared. From the final report a team came to the conclusion to provide the assistant to the victims.
Data – facts from the survey
E.g.: No of families, no of disabilities, no of male, no of female, total no of families the division
Information- a prepared report
E.g.: Name of the DS division, total number of damaged tanks, total number of damaged culverts, and total number of damaged irrigation tanks….
Knowledge- the team learned what to do for the victims.
E.g.: the no of areas affected by war, the team was planning to implement, 5 tanks in a particular DS division, team was planning to construct 3 schools in another DS Division.

2.4. References

Davenport T.H. and Prusak L. 1998: Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Stankosky M. (2005) Creating the Discipline of Knowledge Management: The Latest in University Research, Elsevier
Rao M. (2005) Knowledge Management Tools and Techniques: Practitioners and Experts Evaluate Knowledge Management Solutions, Elsevier
Nonaka, I., “A Dynamic Theory of Organizational Knowledge Creation”, Organization Science, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1994, pp. 14-37.
Wiig, K. M. (1993), Knowledge Management Foundations: Thinking About Thinking – How
People and Organizations Create, Represent, and Use Knowledge, Schema Press,
Arlington, TX.
Tuomi, I., Corporate Knowledge, Metaxis, Helsinki, Finland, 1999.
Kogut, B. and Zander, U. (1992), ‘Knowledge of the Firm. Combinative Capabilities, and the
Replication of Technology’, Organization Science, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 383-397.
Stenmark, D., “Leverage Tacit Organizational Knowledge”, Journal of Management Information Systems, Vol. 17, No. 3, 2001, pp. 9-24.


  1. Gowry,
    This is a detailed anf fantastic piece of work. You have gone to great details to critically analyze the various views of K I D from different authors and gave your views and examples.
    I noticed something small you might have overlooked. In section 2.2.1 where you said "The above diagram illustrates...", I could not see the diagram. Please include it in your article.

  2. HI Gowry,
    Very good example at the end that you shared experience you got.
    Too many quotes!!!
    The way you organise your article is very good did not want to wait for your opinion and also you compared each other ideas which is good.
    to be honest I didn't go through all the references that you have cited it was plenty of references.
    Hard work well done!!
    Richard I think we can understand what she mentioned as a diagram.

  3. Than you richard and thilina

  4. Hi Gowry, You must have done a lot of research to come up with so many views on the KID terms. The example at the end was meaningful. I'll add my own point which is that in collecting the data you needed, you already had knowledge of what it was needed for and this knowledge made you aware that it was data. Therefore, I am convinced that knowledge features at every stage of any KM process.

    Secondly, you refer to the diagram you have there as cyclic but it is linear. You may want to have a look.

  5. hi gowry
    you have done a great article your article shows that you have researched a lot about this article and the style of presentation is excellent

  6. Hi
    It was a good contribution of different authors in this article, I like your examples especially by Wetherbe(2006).As my search in my article data, information and knowledge are linear or in other words its co -related with each other.y did u type 2 as a starter, i was not able to understand it.

  7. hii gowry,
    you have done good article,and the example related to giving directions gives a clear idea....and refernces are included and explained in your words....

  8. Gowry and all,
    Am really impressed by your articles on KM. While am not very experienced in KM, I would appreciate articles for my project "Knowledge management for Institutional capacity building at (an organization am working for). I plan to use SECI model and from the way you criticised it, you may have an alternative model.
    You can contact me privately at (Nairobi - Kenya)

    Thank you and best regards,

  9. Nice work gowry. It has been helpful to me also