Organisations gather and process raw data in various forms. This data leads to the creation of useful information to assist organisations in decisions making. To understand how organisations use information, we first need to understand what data is.
What is Data?
Data is received by organisations in the form of raw figures or text that has no real meaning or value if left unprocessed. Data is processed by various systems in to useful numbers, times, weights, text etc which collectively creates ‘information’.
When the raw data brought into an organisation is put through processes and manipulated it creates value for that organisation. For example, an organisation may want to determine the footfall into a stadium, create bus timetables, calculate the weight of a truck etc… that may all be valuable information for an organisation.
There are various methods and places that data comes from, such as:
- Primary Data – This is data that is collected by you or your business and is manipulated itself. This data is original because it is collected by you. The methods of collecting primary data can be interviews, measurements, surveys or any other way of getting data from the source.
- Secondary Data – Secondary data is any data that is not gathered by you or your business, such as past newspapers, journals or any place that the data is not gotten by you or your business or any employee like getting feedback from a newspaper.
- Qualitative – Qualitative data that is presented in a narrative form so it cannot be measured in the same way as quantitative data. This type of data is usually collected by observations or descriptions such as a long answer which uses description such as ‘there are a lot of people who use buses or walk’.
- Quantitative – Quantitative data is data usually collected by surveys or closed questions such as ‘how many people live in your house?’ This type of data is usually measured in numbers e.g. ‘60% of students in college are between 18-25, 20% between 26-35 etc..’
Purpose of Information
Now that we have a basic idea of where information comes from, what is the purpose of this data/information and what is it used for?
Some businesses use information to analyse sales, others use it to analyse the progress of their business. What is the increase or decrease in profit? How does this compare between the current and past marketing schemes? Will we use this marketing scheme again based on the data/information? Stores can use sales data to compare their sales between stores to see which ones are doing good/bad, or the net profit after buying and selling stock.
Support of Operations
Businesses use this type of information to support duties of employees. For example setting reminders of the timing of various task completion or the timing of taking stock out of freezers for fast food businesses.
The data here can be an important part of aiding in the making of important decisions by providing information that is important such as sales figures, cost of sales, profit margins etc… if a store is under-performing, data can be used to help make a decision on whether or not to keep the store open or whether staff hours need to be reduced, whether profit margins need to increase etc…
Various businesses can use data for events to interlink with other business. Hotels hold events on a regular basis but have to tailor their event to a target audience. To do this the hotel would have to make strategic decisions that will make it positive for the company. If a hotel is going to hold a wedding event, they could contact local businesses such as dress shops and cake shops to contact potential customers for the event and the businesses can have special promotions on the day.
Information from External Sources
Legislation is information and rules from the government which must be complied with by businesses. For example businesses must collect and pay proper taxes to the government. VAT, national insurance, pensions and turnover are the types of information and data that must be calculated by the business.
Employees of a business can be members of trading groups/trade unions which would be part of the same sectors of work. These trade unions work towards creating better standards in industry, setting better pricing structures for everyone in the industry and the development of policies that can benefit everyone in the industry. For example ensuring that nurses and doctors do not work more than a set amount of consecutive hours and are well compensated for working unsociable hours.
Information can be bought by business from external sources such as information traders that specialise in trading information, this information can in turn can be sold on to other businesses.
The storage of information by a business has to comply with the legislation such as the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Customer information can also be sold by businesses but this however can create negative feedback.
Information from Internal Sources
Employee / Personnel
Creating employee records, the recruitment process, the choice of employees, writing job descriptions, organising interviews is what this area deals with. Most of the information here is qualitative data as interview lists, job information and other writing is done here.
The responsibility for the money side of the business is done in this department, dealing with accounts and finances. Purchase invoices, sales invoices, debtors, creditors, monitors and VAT are dealt with in the accounts. There is also the payroll, national insurance and pensions. The finance department deal with quantitative data.
General marketing and advertising of a businesses and its products is dealt with here. The effectiveness of this is done with research, the target audience and the market for their product. Designs for advertising such as posters or leaflets also fall under this category.
When buying goods or a service for a business, it has to go through the purchasing department. This department always tries to get the best pricing structure in the market at that time. Purchasing also deals with negotiating contracts for business.
Usually customer services and sales is the front line of a business as they will be dealing with customers. Their job is to keep customers happy and communicate effectively with them to help resolve problems and answer questions customers have. The aim of the sales team is to sell a business’s product and services to customers. The type of data this area of the business deals with is product lists & FAQs, questionnaires, client lists and client contact details.
Only companies that create a product with raw materials would have manufacturing data. The types of data would be schematics, designs, maintenance records and production records.
Any information about the transportation of a company’s product or service would be dealt with here. Customers addresses, orders, order status, times, dates etc.
Research and Development
The improvement or creation of products is what would be dealt with here. Making new improvements based on research, customer feedback such as adjusting a product based on how customers gave feedback on previous versions. The marketing department would work closely with research and development so that they can promote upcoming products. Information such as feedback and product design is what would be used.