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Characteristics of Information

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Characteristics of information

Characteristics of Information
Information can be characterized in a number of ways; some kinds of information
are more suitable for decision making than others.
Historical
The time frame for information can be historical or predictive. Historical information can be used to design alternative solutions and to monitor performance.
Surprise
Information may be expected or it may be unanticipated. Some information systems experts feel that information is worthless unless it is a surprise to the recipient. However, information that confirms something also reduces uncertainty. Surprise information often alerts us to the existence of a problem; it is also important in developing and evaluating different alternatives.
Information may come from sources internal to the organization or from external sources, such as government agencies.
Summary
Information may be presented in summary form or in detail and vary in accuracy. Summary information is often sufficient for problem finding, but summary and detailed information may be needed for other uses.
Structured
Information can be frequently updated, relatively old, loosely organized, or highly structured. An example of highly structured information is a report with clear categories to classify all the information it contains. Loosely organized information might be a report composed of different forms of information from multiple sources. Characteristics of Information
In general, different types of decisions require different kinds of information
and providing inappropriate information is one common failing of information
systems.
Operational control decisions are characterized by historical information. Usually the results are expected and the source of the information is the internal operations of the organization.
The data-for example, production control data, inventory status, or accounts receivable balances-must be detailed.
Because operational control decisions involve day-to-day operations of
the firm, information often must correspond closely to real time. This information
is often highly structured and precise.


Characteristics of Information
Information for strategic decisions, on the other hand, is more predictive and
long range in nature. Strategic planning may uncover many surprises.
Often, external data on the economy, the competition, and so forth are involved in strategic decision making.
Summary information on a periodic basis is adequate; there is usually no need for highly detailed or extremely precise information. Strategic planning decisions are usually characterized by loosely structured information. The requirements for managerial control decisions fall between operational control and strategic planning.
“Different types of decisions require different kinds of information.” Click to access a resource chart illustrating this.
Characteristics of Information
Obviously, there are many ways to classify information, and this complicates the
decision maker's problem in expressing what output is desired from an information system.
The most important thing for the user of an information system to be aware
of is the intended use of the information and the type of decision he or she is facing.
Then the user should try to decide on the general characteristics of the information needed, using categories such as these as guidelines to develop more detailed information requirements.
Consideration of similar characteristics should enable the user to avoid requesting grossly inappropriate information from an information system.