data, information, knowledge and wisdom

In the context of KM the following distinctions can be made:

The relationships between these concepts can be visualized as follows:

Wisdom, Knowledge, Information, Data Information consists of data, but data is not necessarily information. Also, wisdom is knowledge, which in turn is information, which in turn is data, but, for example, knowledge is not necessarily wisdom. So wisdom is a subset of knowledge, which is a subset of information, which is a subset of data.


Organizations where data is in focus are: insurance companies, banks, statistical organizations. Record keeping is probably the core function.

To have just data is not really meaningful for decision-making.

Even if there were such things such as wisdom organizations, they would have data. However, data-centric organizations do not necessarily have wisdom, or even knowledge.


Information is organized and communicated data. Reports created from intelligent database queries result in information. For example, a result reporting on a specific income group in a particular area provides information that can be communicated to the sales force.

Communication of data may occur between machines, but ultimately it is for human consumption. Technologcial tools should thus enhance the communication capabilities with data. Email is perhaps the most pervasive technological tool to communicate information.


Information may be communicated, and perhaps even be understood by the recipient. But if it is not put into practice it is not yet knowledge. Information thus not only need to be useful. It needs to be applied usefully.