What Exactly is Data Anyway?

By Ed Weisberg

At AnswerPoint, we always talk about data.   We live, breath, and sleep data!  Data optimization, data-cleanup, Database, we even count data points to fall asleep!

What exactly is data, and how does it differ from information?

By definition, data is a set of qualitative orquantitative values about something or someone, often simply a collection of text, numbers, or symbols, which may or may not be organized.  Data on its own may not be meaningful, it must be analyzed to develop Information.  To do this, one collects, categorizes, reports, and analyzes data to draw meaningful conclusions. Information then becomes knowledge.   Knowledge leads to informed decision making or forecasting for the future.