In digital consulting, before embarking on your journey to a new solution and making critical decisions, it’s important to build a foundation of data. One way to visualize this process is the DIKW model.
DIKW stands for Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom. Together, they represent how information gains value. Each segment of the pyramid builds toward a subsequent stage. In consulting, data is the foundation: the raw material.
Data is essentially bite-sized facts and figures from which we derive insights, make conclusions, and act. But without being strategically organized and actively explored, data just exists.
Once unstructured data is categorized and grouped, it becomes information and takes on new meaning.
Further organizing information and identifying patterns gives us additional insight. With knowledge, formed from the information at our disposal, we can make decisions and form more complex insights.
After assembling a body of knowledge, we can understand the “Why,” compare it to existing precedents, and use it to make predictions. With sound judgment, we discern more nuanced qualities of a challenge or a question, and identify solutions and answers with confidence.
Putting the framework to work
In the DIKW framework, data is gathered, then categorized and grouped into information. Information is then synthesized into tangible collections of knowledge, which leads to the development of wisdom.
- Frame & structure your problem with data.
- Research & analyze the data, then group it logically into information.
- Review the information, synthesizing it and thinking about patterns and relationships.
- Use those patterns and relationships to visualize and recommend a solution.
At the top
As consultants, we know our clients have decades of wisdom, which is the topmost level of the DIKW pyramid. The importance of client wisdom in the consulting process cannot be overstated. But the ability to look at a problem from the ground up, with fresh eyes, is essential. Consultants give clients new understanding, adding to the wisdom they already possess.
Our job as consultants is to partner with our clients and lay a powerful decision-making foundation using frameworks like DIKW. It’s by no means the only framework available, but it’s a proven, results-driven method that produces the tangible strategies to pressing challenges.