2. What are the solutions to data and information excess?
2.1. The need for information
If we’re going to get the best out of the data available and the information derived
from it, we must consider why we need it.
Well, we need information (Is it raining outside?), otherwise we are operating by
guesswork and increasing our risks (I’ll take the risk and not take an umbrella).
So we need information to make decisions (It’s raining, so I’ll take an umbrella)
We need decisions to reduce our risks (I’ll take an umbrella to avoid getting wet).
And we need to reduce risks to achieve our objectives (I don’t want to get wet).
We maximise the chances of achieving our objectives by reducing the risks which
We reduce these risks by making decisions which manage them to an acceptable level.
We make the best decisions by obtaining the best information available.
By implication, the better the quality of information, the better the chance of achieving
our objectives. (Or the worse the quality of information, less likely we are to achieve
So we need to think about how to get good quality information.
2.2. Good information
What are the principles of good information?
Relevance: it must help us reach a decision. Knowing it’s raining in Outer Mongolia
won’t help us make a decision about taking an umbrella – unless we’re in Outer Mongolia.
Completeness: there’s no point in only having part of the information. Knowing
it’s raining is useful but it would be more useful if you knew how hard and if the
forecast was for continuing rain.
Simplicity: the information should convey a clear message. It’s raining, not there’s
a certain amount of aqueous precipitation in the atmosphere.
Accuracy: this can vary from totally inaccurate: it’s not raining (when it is)
to excessive accuracy it’s raining with drops of average diameter 0.12342mm.
Timeliness: The information needs to be with us when we need to make the decision.
No point in getting soaked before you realise that it’s pouring.
We’ll consider completeness and simplicity to be part of relevance.
And of course the information must be used! However good the information, if it is
not used it’s worthless.
We’ll now look the process involved in identifying the information we need, by considering:
the objectives we must achieve; the risks which might hinder this achievement; the
decisions necessary bring he risks down to an acceptable level and the information
required to support these decisions.
Click here to see how we identify the information we need
Information is required to make these decisions
Decisions have to be made to manage these risks to an acceptable level