Information may be understood to have various dimensions. However, for our purpose, the following dimension of information will be of interest.
i) Economic dimension,
ii) Business dimension, and
iii) Technical dimension.
This dimension of information refers to the cost of information and its benefits.
Cost of information
It may include
i) Cost of acquiring data,
ii) Cost of maintaining data,
iii) Cost of generating information, and
iv) Cost of communicating information.
The cost is related to the response time required to generate information and communicate it. For systems with low response time, cost is high.
Value of information
Before a particular piece of information is acquired, decision-makers must know its value. In decision theory, the value of information is the value of the change in decision behavior because of the information. The change in the behavior due to new information is measured to determine the benefits from its use. To arrive at the value of new information, the cost incurred to get this information is deducted from the benefits.
This dimension relates to the business angle of information. Its value to the organization, sustainability of getting the information from a managerial standpoint, accuracy and reliability of the information, scope and appropriateness of the information are the parameters for understanding the business dimension of the information. This dimension has got more to do with the 'what' of the information rather than the 'how'. Business dimension of information can have the following parameters:
- Time dimension - information has to be timely to be of any value. The basic utility of information within an organization is in decision-making. If the information is not timely then the decisions derived out of it will have poor quality. Hence, time is an important dimension of information.
- Accuracy dimension - information has to be accurate to satisfy the user. Again this is an important dimension as inaccurate information leads to bad decision-making.
- Reliability dimension - information has to be reliable so that users have confidence.
- Appropriateness dimension - information must be relevant to the receiver. It must be appropriate to his needs.
- Scope dimension - information should be within the scope.
- Completeness of content dimension - information should be complete and not in bits and pieces.
The technical dimension relates to the information gathering, summarizing, storing and retrieval, analysis and cost aspects of information. It can have the following parameters:
1. Information gathering - the means of capturing the data and storing it
2. Analysis methodology - the data processing methodology
- Cost of data acquisition - the cost of data acquisition from the point of view of time and resource (technical) costs. A piece of data is supposed to be costly to acquire if say, it is recovered from a secondary source after processing it for a long time. On the other hand the cost of acquisition of data is low for such cases when (say), the customer is himself putting such data into the system (like in the case of ATMs or online banking, the systems cost of acquiring data is very low is such cases)
- Cost of data maintenance - is the cost of maintaining the data in terms of technical costs of space and efforts (technical) in maintaining it. A data source that requires a lot of technical efforts like indexing, etc., and requires huge storage (for say storing images, etc.), is said to be more costly.
- Cost of data access - is the cost in terms of resource requirements (both processing and network) for accessing the data. Data that can be accessed after utilizing a lot of CPU and network resources is said to be costly to access.
Networking and communication - relates to transmission of data in a network
- 1. Methodology - the methodology of networking and communication.
- 2. Protocol - the rules and procedures followed in the transmission of data in the network.
- 3. Topology - the layout of the network.
Data management and maintenance - the means by which data is stored and maintained (in a database).
Visualization and reporting - the manner in which data information is presented.
The above dimensions of information are to be kept in mind while designing systems for managers. Lack of attention to detail in any dimension of information may result in huge problems at a later date.