What is important information or knowledge

What is the difference between data, information and knowledge?


Published on February 24, 2017 | by Sebastian Pieper


The terms data, information and knowledge are often used synonymously. However, the meaning is not the same, so in this article we want to define the terms, differentiate them from one another and also show their context. In order to understand where the differences and also the relationships between data, information and knowledge lie, it is first necessary to define the terms.


Dates (singular: date) are understood differently in different industries. In its basic form, data are various symbols and signs, the meaning of which only becomes clear when placed in a context. Data is created by collecting and measuring observations. Most of the time, data is sent, received and processed by machines. The confusion of data and information often arises because data are the elements that formally represent information. In addition, data in the colloquial sense is understood as facts and thus viewed as information.

An example of data: 17091985 - There is little to do with this sequence of numbers alone. However, if the information is presented in a context, the sequence of numbers can be deciphered and represents information (date of birth: 17.09.1985).


The data reach a more complex level and become information in connection with additional context. Information represents knowledge of facts or people. There are different levels over which information exchange can take place. Depending on the situation and context, the information can be relevant or irrelevant.

Example of information: The information about a date of birth is still of little value if it is not known who it is. If further information, such as the name, is added and both information are linked, knowledge about a person arises.


Knowledge thus describes the collected information that is available about a specific situation or a person. Knowledge of these facts enables you to make informed decisions and solve problems. Knowledge thus influences the way people think and act. Machines can also make decisions based on new knowledge generated by information. In order to gain knowledge, information has to be processed.

Differences and context of the terms

The definitions make the differences clear and a process can be recognized that converts data into information into knowledge via corresponding processing steps. Data can be transformed into information by assigning a meaning or a context to a date. Furthermore, the accumulation of a data bundle or the linking of different data can in itself also represent information. The moment the information is processed, linked and stored, be it by a machine or a person, it becomes knowledge. If the path is traced back, the data represent the knowledge and information on a formal level.

Checklist for more and better data for free download

In the free checklist there are 21 further tips on how to store other important user data in addition to the email address, e.g. his telephone number or a more extensive opt-in for
receive personal measurement of responses. Or how you can ensure that the user is also providing their correct data.

Tags:ICT & service industry, process optimization, strategy