Information, from a broad perspective, is structured, processed and organised data. It gives context to previously processed data and allows effective decision making on its use. For instance, a single consumer’s sale in a restaurant is statistical data-it becomes information when the company is able to separate the most profitable or less profitable dish with other dishes that the consumer might prefer. In a more complex context, an entire range of customer and product data is gathered and communicated in order to give rise to a more efficient overall sales process.
The ability to gather large amounts of information can also be problematic. There are limitations as to how much can be collected in an efficient and effective manner and it is often difficult to aggregate the right quantity of information, which maximises return on investment (ROI). Therefore people seeking information may go to different levels in the search for it. Sometimes they will use the same internet search engines to find relevant results. At other times people may use more specialized search engines to seek out specific information. Other times people may seek information from a specialist who can help them build a more targeted search and to collect more relevant data from a wide range of sources.
On some occasions people use informal ways of gathering information about a topic. For instance, they may spontaneously ask their peers what they know about the topic, which is a more informal way than using search engines. In addition, individuals may seek information from a variety of sources such as specialist newspapers, journals and magazines, specialist websites, universities and other professionals and so on. Many of these sources have developed their own informal methods of gathering information and one way in which they do this is by producing informal reports or articles. Informal reports and articles often lack formal information sources, but they do allow people seeking information to present their case in a more personal way.