The Information Age






     The 21st century is called "the information age" But what does that mean? Well, let's start with - what is information? Information is data sequenced together that helps the requestor make a decision. From wikipedia, data is the lowest level of abstraction, information is the next level, and finally, knowledge is the highest level among all three. It is the decision that is based on the information that makes the decision a good or bad decision as opposed to good or bad information. Also from wikipedia, The Information Age, is an idea that the current age will be characterized by the ability of individuals to transfer information freely, and to have instant access to knowledge that would have been difficult or impossible to find previously. The idea is linked to the concept of a Digital Age - an economy based around the manipulation of information. When we moved to the age of information it was predicted that we would become more productive and because of this the economy would grow exponentially. Well, that did not happen. Why? Because information is put together by people. Because of this phenomenon, a whole new discipline of knowledge management has been created. In this practice, tools and processes are used to assist a knowledge worker in performing research and making decisions, including steps such as:

A. Reviewing information in order to effectively derive value and meaning.

B. Deriving new knowledge from the information.

C. Making decisions or recommendations from the resulting knowledge.

People who created bad decisions like going to war made the information make their case (instead of accepting the neutrality of the information). People who made bad decisions like listening to the agents of Bernie Madoff who told investors, insurers and banks that their funds would have huge returns even though an insider told the SEC, as early as 1999, that he believed it was mathematically impossible to achieve the gains Madoff claimed to deliver. People who made bad decisions with financial options that caused the destruction of Lehman Brothers and Bear Sterns investment firms.

For data to become information, it has to have three properties. It has to come from a trusted source, be completely transparent and credible (valid). In short, information is good quality data . On my very first trip to Atlanta, I was amazed me at the information readily accessible for the city. As I stepped into the MARTA train station, the signs displayed exactly how long it will take for the next train. Usually in a new city, tourists are taken advantage of for lack of credible information. For example, I paid 20 dollars for a cab ride because I did not know how to get from my hotel to the training seminar. But the next day, after researching options, I paid just 2.50 using public transportation. Even when I booked my hotel, I was looking for a hotel with an exercise room and a kitchen. The kitchen was nice but the exercise room was not very comfortable. As a result of going to the training seminar, I saw my favorite hotel, Marriott (people are creatures of habit), right across the street. Now I have information that is verified for my next trip!

My favorite source of getting information is people. My mom always told me "A closed mouth does not get fed" so I learned early to ask for what I want. I wanted a banana before training, so I visited my favorite hotel, Marriott (their customer service is excellent!), and asked the front desk associate if they had a banana. She walked from her desk to the kitchen to retrieve a banana for me. There was a need that the associate fulfilled to create a positive experience. But what does this have to do with information or business and technology? The front desk associate interpreted the data I gave her (from wikipedia - information is a message received and understood) to create information that would answer the question and live by Marriott's motto of training associates to go above and beyond for their customers.

That is exactly what the information age is supposed to do. The information age is set to sequence the data and service the customer. Websites like Grubhub show which restaurants deliver to your area. It does not matter that citysearch has all the restaurants sorted by area of the city and food type. Grubhub answers the question of which ones deliver to you. The information age allows me to answer questions with users on Facebook who have have never met me! Questions like "Where can I rent spaces for photo shoots reasonably in a particular area?" (community recreation centers) or "Which clubs downtown can I rent for between $700 and $1000 for a photo shoot on November 20th" (Pryamid Club, Luxe Lounge, Warmdaddy's, Freedom Theatre) or questions like "What areas of the city have good schools for my children?" (one answer I got was to was to stay at the good schools you have to switch your job).

As I was speaking with the hostess (a sociology graduate from University of Georgia) at the Maggiano's in Buckhead, we shared information about violence. Violence is just a response to a person not being able to communicate effectively to resolve conflict. Violence can be interpreted as an extreme outcome of conflict. She shared her thoughts that texting was breaking down our coimmunications skills. It is the evolution of communication skills that distinguish human beings from others in the animal kingdom. I shared with her the opportunity to share that knowledge as a writer. Information technology is showing people how to evolve their data about what restaurants are in your area to information about which restaurants can save you time by offering delivery services to the next level of knowledge - knowing what your customers are going to order even before they walk in the door. And that is why, Marriott collects information through the rewards card program like my preference of staying near the elevator and having 2 queen size beds and a refrigerator in my room that allows them to become my preferred vendor for my next stay in a city near you!






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Nicole Newman is passionate about seeing businesses grow using technology tools that increase productivity. The digital divide is separating the United States into two communities: technology-savvy and technology-illiterate. With a Temple University bachelor's degree in Management Information Systems, she is armed with solutions.


Posted on 2013-05-22, By: *

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