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Peter Drucker on Information and Information Systems

The 24 August 1998 Forbes ASAP contains an article by Peter Drucker that addresses issues of information and management in today's world.

Drucker makes two key points.

He points out that most of the time, our systems are great at producing data but not at producing information. Data, you'll recall, is raw facts. It turns into information when you add perspective or comparison.

Even information is not as effective as knowledge. Information turns into knowledge when you add guidance and usage suggestions.

Drucker also points out that most company information systems concentrate all or mostly all of their effort on internal information. It's information from the outside that can surprise you for good or ill.

WALLY'S COMMENT ... Drucker is right as usual.

If you're responsible for information flows in your company, or if you're just concerned with how best to communicate with other people, concentrate on transforming data into information and information into knowledge. At each step you add value.

That's especially important if you're looking at communications that are designed to persuade. The value of what's on your website goes up as you move from data to information to knowledge. The value of what's in your brochures goes up the same way. Likewise, on your sales calls. Ditto for your internal memos.

If you haven't already done so, start both a personal and corporate external scanning process. If you want to be trendy, you can call it "business intelligence."

Whatever you call it, set up a regular habit pattern of checking external information sources.

  • Check out what your competitors are doing and what's going on in your industry.
  • Look at what's going on in your neighborhood and around the world.
  • Look at different industries from time to time and companies that aren't like yours.

The wider you can make the top of your information funnel, the more likely you are to see relationships and get ideas that can boost your profits and other results.

Reviewed: 2/15/03


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