Information is a fact provided or learned about something or someone. Organisations can use information to work more effectively. There are many different types of information that organisations can use. These are qualitative information, quantitative information, primary information and secondary information.
Qualitative information is non-numeric information that is based on opinions. It is often word based and can’t be measured. An example of this would be if you were trying a drink, you would describe the taste of the drink and say if it is good or bad. This information is based on your opinion. Qualitative information is useful for a business because it gives them more detailed feedback. However, this feedback would take a long time to process.
Quantitative information is information that can be seen as factual information and is not based on opinion. It is often numeric and It can be directly measured. For example, asking someone how many hours of sleep they get on average. Quantitative information is useful for a business because it can help to measure customer satisfaction and attitudes to a product.
Primary information is information that has been obtained first hand or is original. It is usually acquired from web forms, interviews letters, etc. Primary information is more reliable than secondary information because it is gained directly from the source. An example of primary information would be information gained from the reveal of a product. Primary information is useful to a business because it helps to find out all of the information that is required and gives the business much more control over the research
“Primary information is information provided by someone present at the event in question” – Cornell University.
Secondary information is information that has been obtained from someone else. It can be described as an interpretation of primary information. It is usually obtained from books, conversations, the internet, etc. secondary information is often less reliable than primary information but it can sometimes be more useful than primary information. Secondary information is useful to a business because it is a much cheaper way of gathering information. However, it gives the business less control over the information they get.
How is information used?
Information has many uses for a business. It can help to plan for the future. Information can be used for operational support by helping to monitor and control activity. A business could use this information to find out how many customers they get in a day. This could help them plan for the future and help with their stock control. Information can be used for analysis by helping to identify patterns and trends. A business could use this information to find out what people want.
This lets them know what is more likely to be sold and allow them to think about re-designing the products that would not sell. Information can help with operational, tactical and strategic decision making in a business. To make an important decision, a business needs to have all the information it can get to help support their decision. Information can help a business gain advantages over its competitors. By finding out more about the competing businesses, the business can plan ahead and reduce prices.
Sources of Information
Information can be obtained from external or internal sources. External sources of information include the government and research companies. The information gained from these sources does not come from the business. Internal sources of information include the administration, financial and sales departments of the business. This information would be more relevant to the business as it is from the business itself.
External sources of information can be from the government of other external research companies (e.g. IFF Research). This information is usually very accurate but is limited in its usefulness because the information is not specific to the business. External sources are often the most popular choice for businesses because of how much cheaper it is.
Businesses always need to keep track of their competitors. For this they use external sources of information. The information that they get from these sources helps them to plan for the future and make sure that they can beat their competitors. This information would most likely come from independent researchers. Businesses can also get information from companies like Facebook, Skype, Google, etc. They can pay these companies for databases of people, what they search, what they talk about and more. They can then use this information for targeted advertisement and to make sure that they keep the products in high demand in stock.
Internal sources of information refer to the research and information provided by the business itself. The information provided by these sources is usually more useful than information from external sources. This is because this information is more relevant to the business when it comes from the business itself. The downside of using internal sources of information is that it costs a lot more money to carry out the research.
A lot of the information that a business needs can be found from within the business itself. If a business needed to know how many sales it has made that month, the sales department would have that information. Knowing how many things sold and what sold is important for a business so it knows what it needs to change and what it should restock. Restocking would be a problem if not for information from the financial and purchasing departments. The business would need to know how much money was available to spend on restocking. This information would come from the financial department. To avoid overstocking certain products, information from the purchasing department is needed so that they know what they have already purchased.
Reliability of Data Sources
Reliability of the data sources you use is one of the most important things to consider when you are researching. Internal sources are often more reliable because you know where the information is from and exactly when it was recorded. When using external sources, you don’t know where the information came from or when it is from. Although some independent research companies will tell clients where the information is from, you still can’t be 100% sure. Many businesses still decide to use external sources of information because it is cheaper than conducting your own research.
Valid information is information that is definitely correct and can be used for the purpose it is needed. It is always information that you can trust. An example of valid information would be information provided to a business by the government
Reliable information is information that comes from a trusted source and you can rely on being correct. Any information coming from an internal source will be reliable because you know the source can be trusted. For example, information that is supplied to the purchasing department from the sales department to tell them how much was sold in the last month will be reliable because it comes from the business itself.
Good information will always be timely. Timely information comes from the right time period. Information from the wrong time period will not be as useful as information from the correct time period. An example of timely information would be of the profit / loss of a business. To find this out, you would have to look at the current sales and not sales from any other time period. If the information was from any other time period, the profit / loss calculated would be incorrect.
Fit for Purpose
Information that is fit for purpose is information that is relevant to its purpose. Information that is not fit for purpose is not useful information for a business. An example of this is if a business wanted to know how many of a certain product it sold and collected information on a different product that it sold, this information wouldn’t be fit for purpose.
Accessibility is the difficulty or cost of accessing information. The information is stored in a way that it can be accessed any time without difficulty. Accessible information is important to a business because it needs to have access to information when it is needed. For example, if a shop manager wanted information about the sales on any given day, the cash registers would be able to print the required information quickly and easily. If the cash registers required the data to be processed first, the information would not be easy to obtain and would not be accessible.
Cost-effective information is information that helps the business to make a profit. This information is considered to be worth the time and money required to obtain it as it will boost the business’ success. For example, if a business paid an external company £300 to do a survey for them and the information obtained from the survey helped the business to increase its profit by £500, the information from the survey is cost-effective.
Information has to be sufficiently accurate for it to be useful to a business. The accuracy of information is important to a business because if information is not accurate, the business decisions made based on the information could be wrong. For example, if the sales department of a business sends information that is not accurate to the purchasing department, the business could overstock or understock on certain products. This would cause a loss in profits for the business.
Relevant information is information that is related to the business and its current needs. Information has to be relevant for it to be useful to a business. Information that isn’t relevant has no use to a business. An example of this would be if a business needed to know how many teenagers lived in a local area, finding out about how many people aged 50 or over would not give any relevant information. The information provided would be useless to the business.
Having the right level of detail
Having the right level of detail is important to a business. If information doesn’t give enough detail, then key points might be missed out. An example of this would be if a shop manager asked for a summary of the sales from the last month. If he was given a list which missed out a few of the products that were sold, the information wouldn’t be sufficiently accurate and the sales for that product would not be counted. This could cause problems for the business. However, if he is given a list of all sales in the last few months it would be too much to read and would contain too much irrelevant information.
From a source in which the user has confidence
When a business is collecting information, they have to obtain it from a trustworthy and reliable source. If a business wanted to know how many people used Facebook, using a website like Wikipedia would not be 100% reliable or trustworthy because anyone can edit it. However, if the business got the information from Facebook, the information would be trustworthy and reliable as it is from the company the information is about.
Understandable by the user
Good information will always be understandable by the user. Any information that is not understandable by anyone outside of the business is useless to them. For example, if someone from outside of the business wanted to know some information about sales and they were given a table with all of the raw figures on it and it was explained to them using terms that they don’t understand, the information is useless because they don’t understand what it says. Whereas if the information had been simplified first and presented as a graph, they would understand it.
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