?Data is like garbage. You?d better know what you are going to do with it before you collect it.? ? Mark Twain
Much of data management is essentially about extracting useful information from data. To do this, data must go through a data mining process to be able to get meaning out of it. There are a wide range of approaches and techniques to do this, and it is important to start with the most basic understanding of processing data.
Data processing is simply the conversion of raw data to meaningful information through a process. Data is technically manipulated to produce results that lead to a resolution of a problem or improvement of an existing situation. Similar to a production process, it follows a cycle where inputs (raw data) are fed to a process (computer systems, software, etc.) to produce output (information and insights).
Generally, organizations employ computer systems to carry out a series of operations on the data in order to present, interpret, or obtain information. The process includes activities like data entry, summary, calculation, storage, etc. Useful and informative output is presented in various appropriate forms such as diagrams, reports, graphics, doc viewers etc.
Stages of the Data Processing Cycle:
1) Collection is the first stage of the cycle, and is very crucial, since the quality of data collected will impact heavily on the output. The collection process needs to ensure that the data gathered are both defined and accurate, so that subsequent decisions based on the findings are valid. This stage provides both the baseline from which to measure, and a target on what to improve.
2) Preparation is the manipulation of data into a form suitable for further analysis and processing. Raw data cannot be processed and must be checked for accuracy. Preparation is about constructing a data set from one or more data sources to be used for further exploration and processing. Analyzing data that has not been carefully screened for problems can produce highly misleading results that are heavily dependent on the quality of data prepared.
3) Input is the task where verified data is coded or converted into machine readable form so that it can be processed through an application. Data entry is done through the use of a keyboard, scanner, or data entry from an existing source. This time-consuming process requires speed and accuracy. Most data need to follow a formal and strict syntax since a great deal of processing power is required to breakdown the complex data at this stage. Due to the costs, many businesses are resorting to outsource this stage.
4) Processing is when the data is subjected to various means and methods of powerful technical manipulations using Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence algorithms to generate an output or interpretation about the data. The process may be made up of multiple threads of execution that simultaneously execute instructions, depending on the type of data. There are applications like Anvesh available for processing large volumes of heterogeneous data within very short periods.
5) Output and interpretation is the stage where processed information is now transmitted and displayed to the user. Output is presented to users in various report formats like graphical reports, audio, video, or document viewers. Output need to be interpreted so that it can provide meaningful information that will guide future decisions of the company.
6) Storage is the last stage in the data processing cycle, where data, and metadata (information about data) are held for future use. The importance of this cycle is that it allows quick access and retrieval of the processed information, allowing it to be passed on to the next stage directly, when needed. Anvesh use special security and safety standards to store data for future use.
The Data Processing Cycle is a series of steps carried out to extract useful information from raw data. Although each step must be taken in order, the order is cyclic. The output and storage stage can lead to the repeat of the data collection stage, resulting in another cycle of data processing. The cycle provides a view on how the data travels and transforms from collection to interpretation, and ultimately, used in effective business decisions.
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