Information Literacy – Assessing the Effectiveness of Information Systems
Information, in a broad sense, is well structured, processed and organised data. It gives context to other data and helps decision making. For instance, a single customer’s sale at a popular restaurant is data; this becomes information only when the company is able to segment the customers into specific groups. Decision making about a new product, or even an improved one, depends on how the data is used. An important part of this involves using data to inform decisions about marketing strategies.
There are many different ways to gather information. Some people use direct methods such as asking people directly, searching the Internet, attending seminars and conferences, etc. while some people use information sources at work, such as in an in-house newsletter, client database or an annual business review. Others still seek information in informal ways, through books, newspapers, magazines, directories, TV and radio programs, and other sources.
Organizations that are able to collect, process and present timely and accurate information are capable of providing the necessary information to their clients and stakeholders. In order for people to make informed decisions, they need reliable information sources. The ability of organizations to provide well-researched information also determines their level of information literacy. Organizations that understand the various ways to gather information and the multiple sources of information, as well as how to aggregate and interpret it, will be more likely to become information literate and to provide effective information to their clients and stakeholders.
Information may be divided into two categories. First, there is direct information. This refers to facts that a person may use to support his/her particular claim. For instance, a person may use statistics and personal experience to support a claim about a specific business or a government action. Direct information is considered very important, but it cannot be considered as being superior to other sources of information because it is not verifiable.
Second, there is indirect information. Indirect information is based on statistics, personal experiences, etc., which can be used to support a claim. There are many people who rely on the internet, newspapers, magazines, etc. as good sources of information because these sources are generally reliable and often come from experts who can back up their claims. It is important for people to learn how to use information sources properly in order to form correct and valid opinions.
Learning how to organize, manage and evaluate information is also important to becoming an information literate individual. Managers and employees need to be able to evaluate and control the different information sources in the workplace. Learning how to effectively utilize and organize information systems in the workplace can help employees learn how to manage an effective information system, as well as the importance of maintaining proper confidentiality in electronic forms of communication. Effective information management systems can improve the productivity of employees, create a better working environment, help the organization meet legal requirements, reduce cost, improve quality and increase satisfaction.