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In an information rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.
In a critical essay, examine the truth of this statement with regard to modern information and information systems, illustrating your work with references to real-life situations, as well as academic theory.
Word Limit: 3500 words, excluding list of sources.
REPORTED BY: SYED ADEEL ABBAS RIZVI
GREENWICH SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT
MBA (MARKETING) SEMESTER-1 UNIVERSITY OF WALES
STUDENT ID: C10VK015628FN
SUBJECT: MANAGEMENT INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS
LECTURER: TREVOR M SHARPE
DATE OF SUBMISSION: 6TH AUGUST 2010
Background and Introduction
What is information
Difference between good and bad information
Does quality information matter
Criteria for collection of information
Balance of information
How information is a necessity and what is responsible for its abundance
Expanding information for decision making through technology
Valuing information for decision making
Role of internet in providing us information
If we imagine ourselves still living in early ages today, status of man would have been those of apes, cannibals or barbarians, using leaves to cover the body and caves to seek shelter. We would have had no change from the time human race first set foot on Earth. Our early savage lifestyle was changed through the introduction of cryptography, these crypts later converted into variety of useful facts and information. Man used these bits and pieces of information and facts as a tool for survival and to improve his standard of living. The detailed analysis of early discoveries, perceptions and notions gradually elevated the status of man from time to time. These details were not only beneficial for any particular generation, but also for the other generations that were to follow. The observation and interpretation of all facts and phenomenon explained in any form or language is given the name “information”. Without the wealth of information we have amassed up till now, we would still have been chasing shadows in that antediluvian age. Our long survival through different ages of history would have been impossible. To make mankind’s survival possible and improve our living methods, information was needed and obtained, acknowledged and acquired, and made use of.http://wpcontent.answcdn.com/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d2/Internet_map_1024.jpg/300px-Internet_map_1024.jpg
Information is a stimulus that has meaning in some context for its receiver. When information is entered into and stored in a computer, it is generally referred to as Data. After processing (such as formatting and printing), output data can again be perceived as information. When information is packaged or used for understanding or doing something, it is known as knowledge.
(SQL SERVER Definitions, 1997)1
2.1 What is “Information”? :-
To acquire the wealth of information we grab the power of knowledge. We search in articles and forums, we get experts answer the tough questions. In addition, we submit our files in documents; do group discussions, caption writing contests etc. so as to gulp the power of knowledge.
Lanham (2007)2, is professor emeritus of English at the University of California, Los Angeles and president of Rhetorica, Inc., a consulting and editorial services company. His most recent book is The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information. According to Lanham, we live in an information economy. Economics is the allocation of scarce commodities that have alternative uses but information is not a scarce commodity; we’re drowning in it. What is scarce is the human attention so we live in an attention economy. From frantic two-career parents to soldiers in computerized fox holes or pilots inundated by cockpit information, we’re all drowning in a sea of information.
Simon (1971)3 argued that what we need are filters. “Knowbots” are a filter that serve as life preservers. Plenty of these life-preservers have been thrown over the side to keep us from drowning in information and they do help. However, information filters are not what we need.
This holds doubly true if we are moving the other way, trying to attract attention from people immersed in a flood of information.
We dug the earth in the agricultural age, and then industrialized it. Now is the era of seeking as much information from the earth as possible. “Information is an active agent, something that does not just sit there passively, but informs the material world, much as the messages of the genes instruct the machinery of the cell to build an organism.” Campbell (1982)4 states that in an agricultural and industrial economy, we think of nature as matter and energy. In an attention economy, we think of it as information.
It is important for us to remember that information never comes without pure truth and it is this belief that gives vitality to all information gathered by us.
3.1 Difference between good and bad information:-
Good and bad are the two essential words that come in every aspect, in every matter of life and in every thought of a human mind. Information is, but a knowledge that is already present in the world but every human needs to explore the world in order to gain it. Information may also come from experience but that is not enough and a man needs to get information about each and every element he finds. Man needs information to discover the facts of living, and for the purpose and vitality of his survival. In other words, man is dependent upon information. The more information he receives, the more is his mind enlightened with knowledge and the increase in knowledge makes him decide what is good and bad. This decision-making ability enables him to make judgments that may be rendered as incorrect if observed by someone else but he perceives them to be right. However, this is not the final stage since he is not satisfied wholly. Man now starts to seek ways that may prove his judgments correct, and then, he starts imposing what he thinks correct to be true and incorrect false. This implication and imposition of right and wrong may help others decide and to make their own judgments. When a large number of people think alike and agree with one another in proving ideas correct and incorrect, then these evidences make up the “good” and “bad” information for the rest of the human race. So, the cycle of gaining knowledge by receiving information, forming opinions and beliefs, and providing sufficient material in referring to their concepts as true and false, or as good and bad information never stops.
4.1 Does quality information matters?
The term “quality” is “the standard of something when it is compared to other things like it; how good or bad something is: to be of good/poor/top quality.” Quality is a feature of something, especially one that makes it different from something else. Information is a fact or detail about somebody or something. It is a necessity for it enlightens the human mind. It can also be called the intake of knowledge. In order to gather information about any specific subject, man has to do selection in collecting material. Information is vast for every topic and is composed of matter that may give a good enough background and description. It may also be based upon unimportant aspects that may not be of any use to the recipient. This is why man makes a choice between matter that may aid him and one that might serve irrelevant. The significant explanation for any chapter is the input of knowledge that man receives from the intake, that is to say, from information. This input becomes a requirement. It becomes a standard, a criteria, as it helps man and refines his thoughts regarding the field under focus. This relevant data, indeed, becomes the quality of information since it gives a positive effect in understanding better the particular topic. Therefore, quality of information matters.
5.1 Criteria for collection of Information:
Career orientation and planning require information about many aspects of education and work. As individuals, we are continually searching for facts about where we might work and how we might live. We look for a profession that may make us successful.
There is a great quantity of information available to us if we are to choose a field of our own choice. We are bombarded daily with information in every conceivable form. From friends, family and colleagues, television, radio, newspapers, and the Internet, we try to navigate our way through a bewildering array of pitches, suggestions, warnings, slogans, pictures, numbers, and sound bites. At some point all of this leads to some rational conclusion about what is right for us. As individuals, it is very difficult to know what information to absorb and what to screen out. What is reliable information, and what is not? What constitutes “good” information? Everyone has these questions in mind. Since there are so many ways of receiving information, we need to define characteristics that determine the value of information and they are as follows:
ACCURATE – Information that is true, verifiable and not deceptive. Accurate career information is based on empirical data and can be validated by comparing sources or checking for internal consistency.
CURRENT – Information that is applicable to the present time. Keeping information current requires a process of eliminating the old and adding the new. While some types of information are more perishable than others, it is generally accepted that occupation and education information should be reviewed and updated annually to be current.
RELEVANT – Relevant information applies to the interests of the individuals who use it for the decisions they are facing. It should reduce a person’s uncertainties about work and education while facilitating choice and planning. Since we live and work in local labor markets rather than in national ones, the better description of local conditions, the more relevant it is to us. Therefore, state and local information is usually more valuable than national.
SPECIFIC – For information to be specific, it must contain concrete facts. General observations are often interesting and can provide a background for further analysis, but specific facts are essential to realistic planning and decision making.
UNDERSTANDABLE – People using information must be able to comprehend it before they can use it. Data must be analyzed and converted into words. The content of the message should avoid ambiguities and be informative to the intended audience.
COMPREHENSIVE – The information should include all the important categories within its scope of coverage. It includes the full range of occupational opportunities, their related educational programs of study and training, and the schools that offer them as the core. Related to that is information about money for school, looking for work, employers and industries, working for yourself, and so on.
UNBIASED – This characteristic is about the motivation or purpose for which the information is being produced and delivered. It is unbiased when the individual or organization delivering the information has no vested interest in the decisions or plans of the people who are receiving the information.
COMPARABLE – The information presented should be of uniform collection, analysis, content, and format so that a user of the information can compare and contrast the various occupation, program of study, and school files.
These are some of the most important qualities that we strive to achieve in making information useful for planning and decision-making. However, the only source of information available nor should it be the only source someone uses. Information obtained from lots of sources creates a better picture and is more likely to result in successful career decisions and sound educational plans. Though it can sometimes be confusing and even conflicting, as each source has its own unique strengths and limitations.
6.1 Balance of information: –
Balance is a term that applies to neutrality. It is regarded as equality between any two aspects. In a state of balance, there is nothing set in comparison and for this kind of steady pace, it is necessary that the factor/s under consideration shall remain constant. Constancy is important as it declares no change and no motion in any of the aspects under observation that is actually the cause and effect of a balanced situation. Information is, and has always increased for every individual in this world and therefore, it can never be brought at a stop. Hence, there is no way that can be acquired to achieve a balance of information. In other words, there exists nothing as balance of information.
7.1 Information Overload:
Shirky (2008)5 in his web2expo shows us the chart above which tells how rapid the information in the world growing. The chart gives the impact that we are progressing day after day. Apart from that, it also depicts the world to be suffering from load of information.
The mechanism of information overload can be explained by keeping the internet in mind. While using the internet, i observe my account inbox and try to figure out how many emails are to be deleted. This is not a horror for me due to the availability of spam. Although spam is a filter that helps in removing bulk of emails, yet it sometimes happens that spam shows only a limited volume of emails deleted. This takes place when there is a collapse of the filter. Spam does reduce the amount of emails but this filter might also be overloaded. Thus, information overload problem may occur anywhere and at any time.
8.1 How Information is a necessity and what is responsible for its abundance:-
The world is surrounded with an ocean of information. There is no place on earth that is void of it. This overabundance of information is not available on it’s own, that is to say, it is not independent. The quantity of information is, no doubt, immeasurable, but there is a utility of some other force that accounts for it’s overflow and the more this force gets utilized, the more does information become obvious. So, information to exist as unlimited is due to the scarcity of something else. Information is, because of the usage of something else, but what might be the element under consumption? What is it that increases information so much while it is itself at a constant decrease? What is it that serves as an oxidizing agent for information? What is the flow of information taking in return? The answer to all of these questions can be figured out by first giving thought to the one and only question: What is it that makes information important? It is our “attention” that makes information a priority. If we do not take any interest in the information that is around us, there is nothing that can make that bit of information vitality. Our time, our concentration is responsible for giving significance to information. Now, the first set of questions mentioned above can be easily solved and by a single answer, which is that, information is using our attention and our insight to appear as full in the world and it is our approach to information that is a reason for the latter to be so effective. The more we set our minds upon anything we see, listen to, or feel, the more is it imperative and consequently, it gets broader and increases in volume.
The case of mobile phones can be taken for explanation. There was a time when a few people had this device. There were only some who knew of it and therefore had the advantage to get hold of it. After a period of two years or so, the sale of cell phones had increased tremendously and there was hardly anyone who did not know of this technology in telephone system. How did this happen? This phenomenon occurred because cell phones found among the very few caught the attention of others and then these others caught the attention of the rest of the population. Hence, access to mobile phones increased day after day due to the striking thought given to the wireless connection by millions. So, the information about the mini-telephone and its accessibility defines the fact that the boost in information is due to the usage of attention given to it.
9.1 Expanding information for decision making through technology:
The technology which surrounds almost everyone in the modern society, affects both work and leisure activities. It influences minds in good and bad ways, and it allows people to share information and make decisions which they would otherwise not be able to attain. Even if a person does not own a computer or have credit cards, there is information on a computer somewhere about everyone. The technology which is just now beginning to be manipulated and harnessed is affecting the minds of small children and adolescents in ways that could be harmful. It is affecting our immediate future. It also gives another form of communication and exchange of information which was not available before, information that is both good and bad.
Given below is a real life example of Tesco (1919)6 which is one of UK’s largest super market retailer:
TESCO – Every Little Helps
Tesco Club card was launched in 1995 and since then, more and more customers are dragging into
Tesco’s shops from around the country. Therefore, Tesco has become one of the most popular supermarkets in Britain. Its club card help them in targeting the customers and their needs through the information they get whenever customers uses their club cards in order to keep them attracted towards Tesco, earn their points, get discounts and continue good business relations.
Club card is about helping you get more out of your shopping at Tesco, as well as enjoying what Tesco partners have to offer. It’s important to Tesco to make customers happy with the services they provide. That’s why; they have created the Tesco Customer Charter to show us exactly what they do with our personal details. Tesco Customer Charter highlights the points given as under: –
· Tesco reassures us that our details are safe and will never be released to companies outside the Tesco Group for their marketing purposes.
· Tesco uses our personal details to send us our club card statement and any vouchers we’ve earned in every three months time period.
· Tesco uses our details to send us offers and information on things which might interest us.
For instance, if we tell Tesco that we’re vegetarians, we won’t receive any coupons for meat products.
· If we don’t want Tesco to send us any other offers and information, the shop will only send us our statement of mailing. This also means that we miss some of the major benefits of Club card, such as money-off coupons and exclusive offers.
· If we request not to be contacted for research, Tesco promises never to bother us.
· If at any time, we would like Tesco to stop sending us emails; our demand will always be listened to and acted upon.
Tesco’s Club card is a free loyalty card scheme. Our personal information is safe but Tesco may gather data from our loyalty cards to analyze our buying activity. However, this can be purely for Tesco’s own records to improve customer service. Therefore, loyalty cards enhance customer loyalty directly by offering rewards as an incentive to shop regularly at a particular supermarket. Loyalty cards also generate considerable information for Tesco, including a customer’s name, address and purchase preferences. They use this information to tailor product offerings, promotions, investment and advertising to the needs of their customers, thereby indirectly enhancing loyalty. This can also be a point of difference allowing Tesco to gain a competitive advantage in retail supermarket. Tesco enjoys significant incremental sales from being the first supermarket to offer loyalty cards.
10.1 Valuing information systems in decision making: Click to show “Wal-Mart” result 16
The word success starts for Wal-Mart from their database structure and interconnected infrastructure; it links all Wal-Mart retail outlets, website, distribution centers, and suppliers. It links all Wal-Mart retail outlets, website, distribution centers, and suppliers. Information regarding sales and inventory is updated every ninety minutes, and spans over four thousand locations worldwide (McKenna 2002). The system tracks inventory and sales with such accuracy that the retailer typically knows more about product sales and other details than the suppliers themselves (McKenna 2002). Due to this information management, Wal-Mart is able to negotiate and offer the lowest prices of any major retailer, ensuring its market positioning and long-term success. It is further able to tightly control distribution and inventory functions, reducing the likelihood of substantial clearance sales and seasonal discounting that reduce the profit margins of its competitors (McKenna 2002).
Wal-Mart is an example of information management used to improve operational functions. Orders made online are shipped from the nearest distribution center, the same location that ships to Wal-Mart stores (McKenna 2002). This also allows stores to quickly restock popular items and make pricing adjustments.
As with Tesco, the company can make minor price adjustments and track resulting changes in sales to optimize profits. However, Wal-Mart does not track individual purchaser information and therefore does not generate the demographic consumer group data that Tesco typically employs (McKenna 2002).Click to show “Tesco” result 20
From a practical standpoint, moving into e-commerce as an already successful retailer has been shown to greatly enhance both sales and credibility (McKenna 2002). Online shoppers have the convenience of being able to actually view and handle product, then buy it later online and have it shipped home. Having an actual store to handle complaints and potential returns also increases customers’ confidence in purchasing online from Wal-Mart (McKenna 2002).
Implementation began in Wal-Mart’s retail outlets, as the Internet and e-commerce were unknown at that time. The major factor was expense, as the system had to be developed pretty much from scratch, and the firm went through years of adaptation to finally arrive at its highly successful system (McKenna 2002). Suppliers were required to barcode all products, or they were not carried in Wal-Mart stores. Employees at that time were used to keying in prices rather than scanning barcodes, and required extensive training (McKenna 2002). Firms wishing to implement similar information systems to enhance their supply and distribution management today have a much easier road, as ready-made computer programs and hardware are now readily available.
11.1 Role of the Internet in providing us information:-
Rodnay (2009) in his article explains information abundance is not about digitalization and copying. It is about the perception, analysis, comparison, exchange, reuse and evaluation of facts. Prior to Internet, information is collected through different sources like books, newspapers etc. The curiosity to know things happening around the world is satisfied with Internet.
Information availability – Information available for us is scattered in different sources like books, newspapers, encyclopedias, magazines, museums and libraries. Considering these resources, collection of required data or searching for it takes a lot of time. For example, prior to Internet, information about any medical treatment for any disease was a time consuming process. People used to refer different books in libraries and other sources for days to get the necessary information. With Internet, any information is available within minutes.
A change brought by Internet – The advent of the Internet has been one of the most exciting major events in the second half of the 20th century. Information is shared among all humans with the help of Internet. A big advantage of Internet is the availability of information with quick accessibility. One can access information in a book that is available in a library, or in the other part of the world with just a click of a mouse. Information online is constantly reviewed and updated frequently. Information Era Internet became a public domain in the 1980’s. From then, availability of information was permanently revolutionized and grown tremendously. Information era has changed the lives of all humans either directly or indirectly. Information on almost every topic is obtained at high speed and more easily available than ever before. This new level of information availability and accessibility is influencing the dynamics of the global markets as well as personal lives. Remarkably, information is not only accessible to all but can be created by and distributed to almost everybody. Everyone can enjoy the unmatched prosperity of global information resources by connecting to the Internet. The advent of the Internet has increased the efficiency of the information availability. With this, significant increase in level of information endowment in a variety of fields is observed.
Information is like oxygen for us. We want it just like we need oxygen to breath. Information controls us. in spite of all our might, we fail to have power upon information. It is sufficiently available to us but there is no way that can stop it from spreading. So, in this way, we are dependent upon it despite our freedom to take charge of anything we wish for. We can gain access to it and can bring it to our use but that is all. We are not capable of personalizing it to such an extent as to ending it or making it an impossibility for others to receive it.
Information was, is, and will always be a basic need for us. Just like we need food and water to survive, we need information to live with freedom. Our liberty, our authority is based upon the fact that we get knowledge as much a we can and we use it for our own benefits, to make a strong impact of our presence, whether it be at home, in society in the whole world. Information, therefore, governs us. It has superiority and it dominates us all our life.
Total Words: 3496
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