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"Explain, with the help of examples, what is meant by the terms data, information and knowledge, as used within the study of information systems - Describe the characteristics of good quality information".

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Computer-Based Information Systems

Assignment 1

Leslie Spiers

29 October 2001

Explain, with the help of examples, what is meant by the terms data, information and knowledge, as used within the study of information systems.

Describe the characteristics of good quality information”

Information is quite simply data that is processed for a particular purpose.  That data may be a transaction, such as a sale of an item in a retail outlet, an entry on a time sheet of an employee or indeed the record of any event or fact.  The essence of data is that it is an elementary description and that it lacks organisation and therefore cannot convey any meaning.

Data may be handled in a series of, sometimes complex, processes in which it is classified, selected, rearranged, summarised, aggregated or used to perform calculations.  Data can be stored as a resource that can be drawn upon to produce information for people and in support of the activities in which they engage.  Data items can be numeric, alphanumeric, figures, sounds or images.

Information consists of meaningful facts that are significant and relevant to the recipient and their role within the context of their private or business activity.  Information allows actions to be taken and decisions made which may bring about change to a greater or lesser extent as a consequence of that information being made available.  Recipients interpret information and draw both implication and conclusions from it.

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Computer-based information systems offer support to businesses at three levels.  The first is at the transactional or operational level, the next is at a managerial level and the third is at the executive or strategic level.  

The first level supports clerical and customer facing staff and includes Point of Sale information and the issue of receipts or other critical operational processes in marketing, production, purchasing, accounts, human resources and finance.  These activities are short term in nature but are nevertheless vital to the running of the business and if failure occurs the impact upon the organisation is usually instantaneous.

The decision support system enables managers to make tactical decisions relating to the business.  It supports the short term planning function in both a structured and unstructured manner and is based on the premise that timely and accurate information will facilitate higher levels of control, efficiency and output.  The mediated outputs of the transactional system are an integral part of this second level information system.  An example of such a system may enable a supervisor to monitor monthly use of electricity and perhaps then introduce energy efficiency measures to combat increased consumption.  This information system also supports knowledge workers such as engineers, market analysts and lawyers in addition to those engaged in the management of people or processes.

The Executive information System supports strategic or long-term planning.

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56X Modem                connects the computer to the telephone network and Internet

4 USB Ports                allow such as printers & cameras to be connected to the computer

Soundblaster Card        enables good quality sound from CD’s and the Internet

1.44 MB Floppy Drive        a portable device for saving documents

Twin Speakers                give stereo sound when using CD’s or DVD

2year on site warranty        the engineer visits your venue as opposed to return to base

Windows XP                the latest operating system

Microsoft Works 2001        a suite of programmes for the home and small business user

Internet Access                 a built in programme that gives access to the Internet

In addition, I would suggest a colour inkjet printer capable of producing 9 pages per minute (ppm) mono and 7.5 ppm colour with a resolution of 2400 dots per inch (dpi).  Consideration should also be given to purchasing a scanner at a later date.

The IT manager would need to consider the following matters:

  1. The networking topology for shared use of information and printers
  2. The costs of cabling or the use of a wireless network
  3. The need for a central server in either a Local Area Network (LAN) or a Wide Area Network (WAN)
  4. The costs of improving communication and information sharing
  5. The revised relationships that sharing engenders
  6. The capacity for future growth
  7. The speed and performance in a multi user environment
  8. Security of users and data
  9. Back up arrangements and access levels

[1] Turban, McLean Wetherbe, 1999, Information Technology for Management, John Wiley & Sons Inc, ISBN 0-472-17898-5, p17

[2] Curtis, 1989, Business Information Systems: Analysis, Design & Practice, Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-17523-1, p29

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