Upon successful completion of this chapter, you will be able to:
- Define the term database;
- Describe the role of a database management system;
- Explain the difference between a relational and flat file database;
- Outline the levels of the data hierarchy;
- Describe the different data types;
- Identify and apply the steps to create a simple relational database; and
- Discuss the advantages of the database approach.
You will remember from chapter 1 that technology, along with people and processes ensures that data is transformed into information that can be used for decision making. So far we have explored two components of information technology: hardware and software. These two components on their own have little value without data. Imagine if you turned on a computer and opened a word processor, but had nothing to work with. What if you opened a music application on your phone but there were no songs to play? What if you opened a web browser but there were no web pages to view? Without data, hardware and software are not very useful! Data is the fuel powering information systems and it is the focus of this chapter.
Remember data simply refers to the raw facts, and needs to be transformed (stored, organized and processed) to become information. This process is now occurring at unprecedented speeds, and new data is being generated faster than we can transform it.