What is Data?

What is Data? Data can be thought of as a piece of information. An example of data might be the color red. But what is red? One piece of data is nearly worthless, but combined with more data it can provide a complex answer to nearly any question. Suppose you have four different categories of data for a car dealership: Color, Price, Model and Year. Using the four categories of data one may ask the following question, how many red trucks are for sale that are older than 2005 and less than $5,000. If all four data categories were entered into a system for  every vehicle on the lot, you could than retrieve a list of all the vehicles that fit the criteria in your question.

Business Data

As you can tell data can be very powerful for gathering useful information. All businesses have to keep track of data, at minimum their financial records. Although, more data equals better detailed answers that allow your business to run more efficiently. There are many different types of data that businesses can store and a variety of different ways data can be stored.

Basic Data Types:   

  • Text (Any type of wording – Names, Descriptions, ect.)
  • Numbers (Anything that can be used for math, prices, age etc.)
  • Time / Dates (Usually used for sorting the information)
  • Media (Images, Video and Sounds)

2 Useful Storage Methods: 

  • Spread sheets – Many business opt into using spread sheet software such as excel to store their data. Spreadsheets are easy to create and provide a pleasant visual of information. It is easy to share spreadsheets with others and the learning curve  tends to be pretty simple. Although, spreadsheets are ideal for answering a predefined set of questions. Spreadsheets are not designed for constantly changing data and questions.
  • Databases – Databases are by far one of the best ways to store data, it even has data in its name! There are multiple different types of databases, a few examples are: MySQL, Microsoft Access and MongoDB. In order to ask questions to a database one must use an SQL programming language. Usually businesses will design software that allow non technical people to ask the database sophisticated questions. Databases tend to be complex to many individuals, thus businesses prefer to higher a database expert to manage their data structure. Databases are scalable and can grow with your business, they can be created online and accessed through anywhere in the world.

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