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Data Mining and Beyond: Developing Wisdom

Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom are commonly used terms, with broad and overlapping meanings. There is a well-understood sense of hierarchy among them.


The Hierarchy:

  • Data when processed for a purpose, leads to information.
  • Information seen in its appropriate context, becomes knowledge.
  • Understanding when to use what knowledge, leads to wisdom.

Society, organizations and individuals invent new and faster communication and information technologies on a daily basis. These technologies generate an accelerating flow of information and data.

From emails to social media streams, and from paper to telephonic communications, we process ever-increasing amounts and variety of data.

Organizations need to manage this avalanche of data, and make sense of it for competitive advantage.

Any one individual or organization can know but a fraction of this data. The data all seems urgent and compelling; it is difficult to ascertain which is relevant and which is noise. We get distracted by the incoming data, then suffer from information overload, which then leads to stress.

Even so, complex organizations need to use computer information technology for data mining, to process the data and discover new patterns and insights, which then adds to their pool of knowledge. Knowledge management, therefore, is a desirable goal for all individuals and organizations.

However, most contemporary knowledge is comprised of transient patterns, flavor of the month models, and weak theories. Knowledge and theories have become ever more contextual and vulnerable to being disproven.

At the same time, it is difficult to constantly validate knowledge held in the minds of people. It is difficult to capture that tacit knowledge and systematically examine its continued relevance and validity.

In a fast-changing world, making business decisions based on outdated knowledge can lead to disaster. Not all of the latest knowledge may be the greatest either. Thus people need to learn when to use what knowledge.

Wisdom and Spirituality

We hear much less talk about gathering wisdom than about data mining. From a spiritual perspective, the goal of knowledge is to remove the fundamental ignorance about our true nature. It’s still about “know thyself.”

Ancient sages have indicated that it is important to realize one’s divine nature and the absolute or unchanging eternal aspect of our existence; and be able to differentiate it from our social and physical existence in the relative, changing world of our daily lives.

We need to balance the daily distractions of new developments in computer information technology, important as they may be, by paying a little more attention to our true nature and the wisdom of wholeness already present within ourselves.

While most business systems focus on external processes and efficiencies, there are many personal and practical benefits to understanding and experiencing the true knowledge of our inner wholeness, which can described as field of pure consciousness.

  • Operating from a higher state of consciousness provides access to infinite creativity, which helps generate new ideas.
  • It also provides a dispassionate perspective from which to view the activities in the relative, changing world, which improves decision-making ability and lowers stress levels.

The benefit of computer information technology and its many techniques such as data mining, et al. is the potential to make more effective business decisions.

The ultimate tool , however, is the human brain and its capability to absorb and utilize the information generated by data. That requires constant development of one’s own consciousness.

The Transcendental Meditation (TM) Program, featured here at MUM, is an effortless technique that has been proven to enhance brain coherence and provide deep rest so that the mind and body are better prepared for effective action.

All managers and organizational employees should be encouraged to learn and practice the TM program to help release their stresses and activate their creativity, allowing them to make the most effective use of data mining and other information gathering toolsets, plus transforming their organizations into a beautifully functioning and happy work environments.

About the Author

Dr. Anil Maheshwari is an Associate Professor of Management Information Systems at MUM. He directs the new MIS Graduate Certificate program at MUM. He completed his PhD in MIS from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH. He has taught MIS at many universities, including 3 years at the City University of New York. He also brings 20 years of rich IT industry experience including 9 years at IBM and a few years at fast-paced start-ups. Among other adventures, he successfully ran a marathon.

See more articles of Dr. Anil Maheshwari on his Google+ profile.