Value of Data & Information | CompTIA IT Fundamentals FC0-U61 | 1.4

In this video you will learn about the basics of data & information as assets, the importance of investing in security, the relationship of data to creating information, intellectual property, digital products, and data-driven business decisions.

Data & Information Assets

In today’s world of information technology, data & information assets need to be treated as the most important asset an organization has.  The reason being is that, physical assets such as land, buildings, machinery and raw materials are almost impossible, if not, very challenging to steal and/or compromise. Data & information assets can be easily stolen and the information that is at risk of getting stolen can oftentimes be extremely valuable to people who have no business having access to that information.  Think of how valuable a person’s social security number is on the black market when it comes to identity theft.

Importance of Investing in Security

One of the most in-demand jobs within the I.T. industry is that of information security (Infosec). This career path focuses primarily on protecting internet connections, inbound/outbound email traffic, outbound connections, internal networks, servers and a host of other functions and responsibilities.  The reason being is that, data & information are extremely valuable to organizations that have a right to the data and to those who do not have a right to access the data. When it comes to an organization protecting data, an organization should not skimp on the protection due to costs. As a matter of fact, organizations have three financial considerations to make as they plan to implement security to protect their data:

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA):  A CBA for security estimates the strengths & weaknesses of the approaches you are considering so you can find the best methods to use to achieve security improvements at the lowest cost.
  • Return on Investment (ROI):  An ROI is the percentage comparing the net profit and cost of investment when you make an investment.  The higher the ROI, the more efficient an investment is. For example, if a business spends $25 to make $100, the net profit is $75 ($100 – $25) and the ROI is 300%.  Calculating the ROI on security can be trickier as it involves determining your organization’s risk exposure and the reduction in risk (risk mitigation) that can be achieved from a particular security measure as well as the loss of ongoing business that the news of a data breach could cause.
  • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO):  TCO is used to calculate the total cost of the security steps your organization is contemplating.  Some of those costs could be: hiring security personnel, insurance premiums, losses with security versus losses without security, hardware firewalls, etc.

These costs should take into account any regulatory requirements for specific security measures related to certain industries.

Relationship of Data to Creating Information

The terms data & information are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. The difference between data and information is as follows:

  • Data is raw unprocessed information
  • Information is processed from data

Another way to understand it is, data can be just a bunch of random words and numbers thrown inside of a bucket.  How a computer chooses to analyze those random words and numbers becomes information. Example: 123456789 are just numbers with no context (raw data). When organized a certain way, such as 123-45-6789, it begins to look like a social security number which in turn becomes useful information.

The Five C’s

Another way to understand how data is turned into information can be explained using a concept called the Five C’s.  The Five C’s was created by Thomas Davenport & Larry Prusak whom co-authored a book titled Working Knowledge (HBS Press, 1998).  The Five C’s stands for:  Contextualization, Categorization, Calculation, Corrections, & Condensation.  This is the process most data must go through in order to be converted into useful information. Here’s an example of this concept as it relates to the company Amazon.

  • Step 1: Contextualization (why data is gathered) — A listing was created to help buyers and sellers meet online to buy and sell.
  • Step 2: Categorization (key components of the data) — Each product is assigned a category and subcategories (by the seller) to make it easier for potential buyers to find their product.
  • Step 3: Calculation (mathematical or statistical analysis) — In the example of Amazon, this step could be the determination of the number of items that match the shopper’s search.
  • Step 4: Corrections — Amazon enables sellers to post corrections to a listing or remove a listing that was in error.
  • Step 5: Condensation (summarizing, graphing, or presenting data in tables) — Amazon provides brief listings of matching items, displaying of titles, descriptions, prices, and photos that allows for a customer to click on to gather more information.

Without these 5 steps in place, it would be virtually impossible to navigate Amazon and for Amazon to manage the products listed on its site.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect that can be copyrighted, patented or trademarked.  Although intellectual property can be in the form of a book, video games, movies, or computer program, the intangible creation stored in various physical manifestations is what is actually protected by intellectual property rights and laws.


A trademark is a type of intellectual property right consisting of a recognizable sign, design, or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others, although trademarks used to identify services are usually called service marks.  A registered trademark is a trademark that has been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. After a trademark has been registered, any other entity that uses it would be infringing on that trademark.

Trademark Examples

Trademarks, Service Marks, & Registered Trademarks

Trademarks, service marks, and registered trademarks are referred to as “trademarks”, but they differ in how they are obtained and the legal issues involved.  A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or logo that is used to brand, identify, and distinguish a product.  A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, or logo that is used to brand, identify, and distinguish a service.

An example to help clarify the difference:

Let’s say you are planning to buy your significant other some candy for Valentine’s Day from a local chocolatier store.  The small chocolatier store you visit may have their name and logo registered as a service mark, as they are providing the service of selling you chocolate.  While there, the chocolate you purchase will likely have its name and logo registered as a trademark, as it’s a physical product you can purchase.


A copyright is a law that gives the owner of a work (book, movie, picture, song, website, etc) the right to say how other people can use it.  Copyrights last for a limited period of time. The length of time they can last vary from country to country. A copyright doesn’t have to be registered, but registering a copyright is helpful in determining damages if a copyright is infringed.  Both commercial and open source software is copyrighted. The purpose of copyrighting a particular open source program might be to enable provisions of an open source license.

Copyright Terms & Conditions/Terms of Use

Organizations that have copyrights, trademarks, and service marks typically specify terms and conditions (terms of use) under which these can be legally used.  Anytime you upload a new Microsoft operating system to your computer, Microsoft has you agree to a terms of use statement explaining exactly how you can use their software.  Even though you purchased their software and you are installing it on a computer that you purchased, you are essentially licensing their software, which is what is outlined in that terms of use statement.

Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement (also referred to as piracy) is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission for a usage where such permission is required, thereby infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works.  Think of people bootlegging movies, video games, & computer software. Those are examples of copyright infringement.


A patent is a form of intellectual property that gives its owner the legal right to exclude others from making, using, selling, and importing an invention for a limited period of years (typically 20 years), in exchange for publishing an enabling public disclosure of the invention.  For an invention to be patented, it must be novel, useful, non-obvious, and perform one or more functions.

Digital Products

Digital products (also known as digital goods or e-goods) are intangible goods that exist in digital form.  Example of digital products are e-books, downloadable music, internet radio, internet television, streaming media, fonts, logos, photos, graphics, subscriptions, online ads, internet coupons, electronic tickets, downloadable software, mobile apps, cloud-based applications, online games, e-learning, etc.  Pretty much anything that you can purchase or engage in via online whether it’s in the cloud or it is downloaded to a device you own. Software licensing (also known as end-user licensing agreements, EULAs), terms, patents, copyrights, and trademarks apply equally to digital products as well.

Data-Driven Business Decisions

Data-driven business decisions is the process of using data to inform a business of what it does.  There are three steps involved in this process:

  • Data capture and collection
  • Data correlation
  • Meaningful reporting

Data Capture & Collection

Data capture & collection is the process of determining exactly what type of data is to be captured for collection so that this data can be properly analyzed and/or stored for future reference.

Data Correlation

Data correlation is a statistical association, or close relationship, between two or more items.  An example could be a correlation between the price of a house and the income of a buyer. The higher the buyer’s income, the probability of the more expensive the house may be the buyer is looking to purchase.  However, data correlation does not mean causation. Meaning, one must not automatically jump to conclusions. So just because a person is a high income earner doesn’t automatically mean that this person is interested in buying an expensive house.

Meaningful Reporting

Meaningful reporting simply means providing information needed to help an organization make an informed decision.  A meaningful report condenses all of the raw data used to create useful information to provide some sort of output that provides a somewhat of bird’s eye view to let you know what is going as opposed to providing a report that goes into extreme grave detail to the point where a person would potentially zone out from information overload.