Understanding Data and its Management
Understanding data management begins with an understanding of the two key words: Data and Management.
Data are the individual facts and figures that are out of context and have no meaning. They are often referred to as raw data. For example, the numbers 123.45 or the text John’s Curve have little meaning. They are simply raw data.
Data in context are raw data that are wrapped with meaning. The numbers 123.45 are the account balance of checking account 40067. The text John’s Curve is a location on Highway 467. All raw data must be wrapped with meaning so they can be properly understood, managed. and used.
Information is a set of data in context that is relevant to one or more people at a point in time or for a period of time. Information must have a relevance component and a time component. Anything without a relevance or time component is simply data in context which leads us to discussion of management.
Management is the act or art of managing. Peter Drucker cited that managing is:
- making people capable of joint performance,
- integrating people in a common venture,
- a commitment to common goals with simple, clear, and unifying objectives which are thoughtful, set, and exemplified by all,
- to grow, learn, and develop the organization as the business needs change,
- communication and individual responsibilities linked to goals and objectives,
- business performance is to be measured and continuously improved, and
- business results exist only outside the organization, i.e. a satisfied customer.
Given these factors, managing is the conducting or supervising of something, such as a business. It’s the judicious use of various resources or means to accomplish an end objective. Management is a part of all aspects of everyday life.
A data resource is one of the four critical resources in an organization, along with the human resource, the financial resource, and real property. Like the other three critical resources, data must be properly managed for the good of the organization. If any of the four critical resources are not properly managed, including the data resource, the organization will be less than fully successful at meeting its goals and objectives.
Data management is the proper management of a data resource for an organization. Data management consists of a set of theories, concepts, principles, and techniques for properly managing data. The primary objective is to support the business information needs of the organization.
The term data resource management is often used to emphasize that a critical resource is being managed. Some people believe that the term “resource” must be in the term to ensure that data are managed as a critical resource. Others believe that a good explanation of data management is acceptable without the term resource. Either term is acceptable.