Information processing is the manipulation of data to produce useful information; it involves the capture of information in a format that is retrievable and analyzable. Processing information involves taking raw information and making it more useful by putting it into context. In general, information processing means processing new data, which includes a number of steps: acquiring, inputting, validating, manipulating, storing, outputting, communicating, retrieving, and disposing. The future accessing and updating of files involves one or more of these steps. Information processing provides individuals with basic skills to use the computer to process many types of information effectively and efficiently. The term
has often been associated specifically with computer-based operations.
IMPACT OF INFORMATION PROCESSING
Information processing has had an enormous impact on modern society. The marketplace has become increasingly complex with the escalating availability of data and information. Individuals need a sound understanding of how to create, access, use, and manage information, which is essential in the work environment. People need to understand the interrelationship among individuals, the business world nationally and internationally, and government to constructively participate as both consumers and producers. These general competencies must be coupled with those that lead to employment in business as well as advanced business studies.
According to market intelligence provider IDC, offices around the world were on track to produce 4.5 trillion pages of hard-copy information by 2007. Three vital factors to consider in the management of documents are (1) managing the documents more effectively, (2) controlling the costs associated with the documents processed, and (3) using available resources more efficiently. Every organization, whether small or large, has a vested interest in information processing technology. Smarter document management in office environments is essential. Businesses are adding intelligence and structure to digital and paper documents in order to streamline business processes and to aid integration within the structured data systems. The emphasis is not on eliminating paper, but on handling the information embedded in the documents more efficiently. The focus has shifted to tailoring and managing technology to best meet needs.
EFFECTS OF INFORMATION PROCESSING
Information generates ideas and drives decisions. Documents are driven by regulatory compliance, plus the need to communicate with customers, suppliers, and employees—while dealing with multimedia, business process solutions, and related investments. Questions that should be considered include the following:
- What techniques, procedures, and methods are used to share useful information?
- What are the capabilities and limitations of hardware and software?
- How can speed of operation, functionality, and capacity be increased?
- What ways will an organization and individual use the information; for example, will the information be used to support strategic, tactical, or operational decisions, and to inform, persuade, educate, or entertain users?
- What techniques are used for representing the design of solutions and output, including input-process-output charts, hierarchy charts, screen/hardcopy layout mock-ups, flow charts, or storyboards; what techniques—such as hyperlinks, buttons, icons, table of contents, index, or page numbering—are used for navigating complex documents?
In many businesses, office files are littered with paper documents. Time consuming and costly, this situation frustrates both customers and employees, often resulting in service delays. By automating paper-intensive processes, organizations can realize significant productivity gains.
The explosion in information and content has created business challenges, including:
- The inability of users to locate information needed
- The lack of clear organization to simplify navigation through repositories and on Web sites
- Manual tagging processes that take too much time
- The inability to personalize content for individual users and customers
MANAGEMENT OF INFORMATION PROCESSING
Businesses in the twenty-first century are complex, fluid, and customer-centric, therefore they need to establish and apply appropriate file-management procedures and techniques to store, communicate, and dispose of data and information efficiently and effectively. By automating routines to capture, process, manage and deliver business documents, organizations can safeguard data integrity and protect data from alteration.
The introduction of digital technologies enabled offices to start changes in the use of paper. In the early 1990s, a Xerox research study indicated that offices were not tending to use less paper rather keep less paper. Many office workers maintain paper for reading, annotating, and sharing information for discussion purposes; many businesses still rely on paper for such form-based documents as invoices, contracts, and customer correspondence. Paper copies and/or microfilm are also archived for legal reasons by many businesses and organizations.
Businesses need to examine carefully the document work-flow process. This includes four stages/steps: capture, manage, store, and deliver. Each step supports the transfer of paper document content to electronic format, to route and use for specific applications. Richard V. Heiman and Anthony C. Picardi (2005) have stated that "information life-cycle management has now become possible. Intelligent documents have a life cycle built into them and travel on the backbone of enterprise transaction systems. Content comprehension, digital rights, and integration continues to evolve and will be built into an increasing array of smart applications."
Many business documents are governed by regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. These acts are meant to protect information security, accuracy, and confidentiality and dictate how organizations receive, process, use, store, protect, and share business information.
Business requires that information be accessible in real time. Real time is associated with speed—real-time information management is getting information where it needs to be when it needs to be there, whether that is microseconds, minutes, or days. Information has impact when it is connected to context, to other information, and to people. Context enhances the value of stored information. Business leaders need information that is readily accessible. They want to have real-time views in their businesses so that decisions are made when they need to be without tracking data and generating reports.
Traditionally in most businesses, organizations, and corporations, information has been isolated within a specific department on an individual employee's personal computer, in an individual database, or in a file cabinet. Businesses, however, have implemented multiple solutions to store various data and yet questions persist on how to consolidate and use storehouses of information to deliver better products and services while maintaining profit margins.
Capturing all information onto one true enterprise system is essential. Enterprise resource management (ERM) has arrived. The implementation of ERM in the business sector has helped businesses to manage people and workloads and to control of the processes of the business. Processes and communication systems that extend globally and respond instantaneously require flexibility. The processes as well as the systems must be integrated so that measurable results are delivered. ERM serves as a vehicle to manage information. It organizes data to be more useful to individual departments—enabling them to operate more efficiently, as well as creating streamlined processes to cut costs.
Changing internal processes can be difficult within an organization. Businesses must abandon old ways of preserving and protecting data. Data need to be shared within an organization on a rules- and roles-based system; reporting functions need to be streamlined, limiting decision making to a select few. Open lines of communication and collaboration within the organization, as well as with partners, suppliers, and customers, helps the organization achieve greater operational efficiency.
Constantly evolving business requirements mean that the work-flow processes have to be updated as needs change. Customization may be required. Businesses need to define and modify work-flow functions. Solutions that bridge the gap between back- and front-office worlds enable organizations to exchange information.
In the current work environment, businesses use the Internet on a daily basis. The Internet is no longer a tool just for electronic mail, research, and electronic commerce. It has become a tool for globalizing a business; it is a tool that enables an organization to tie together employees, suppliers, and customers. Free flow of information is generated across the country and internationally.
CHALLENGES OF INFORMATION PROCESSING
Businesses still face challenges as they attempt to revise internal processes, open communications to outside sources, and integrate disparate technology functions. Information should not be isolated in specific departments; it should be housed is such a way as to benefit the entire organization.
In the modern office, information processing encompasses a wide field. It ranges from textual information to digital information, qualitative analysis to quantitative analysis, as well as globally from the Internet to a single personal computer.
Computer documents may require a combination of software packages to be used; for example, placing a spreadsheet into a word-processing document or a spread-sheet graph in a presentation file. A variety of manipulations is involved in the processing of textual information. A document can be rearranged by the cutting and pasting of text, and graphics can be imported into a text document. Using image analysis software, images can be manipulated. The digital processing of numerical data can be accomplished through spreadsheet programs. Using spreadsheet programs, data can be queried in a "what if" statement, and statistical analysis and graphical representation of the data can be illustrated.
Integrating software applications is a powerful aspect of using software designed to be used in the Windows environment. Integration refers to the sharing of information among applications—word processing, spreadsheet, and database applications. Computer software not only shares common features but also is very often compatible; thus, information that is created in one software package can be shared in another.
The proliferation of computer software has dramatically changed the way end users create documents. As computer software became more sophisticated over the years, the software programs began to share common features. Modern offices use a combination of software packages to produce useful information. The field of information processing has had and continues to make a significant impact on society.
see also Careers in Information Processing; Desktop Publishing; Ethics in Information Processing; Information Processing: Historical Perspectives; Information Systems; Information Technology
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The term has related meanings outside the computing field. It is used in psychology, for instance, and may also be used to refer to clerical operations.