4 Steps of DIKW Hierarchy: The Essential Tools for Knowledge Management

The DIKW hierarchy is a good example of how knowledge can organized. It is an important step in the knowledge management process. The knowledge management process is essential in the ITIL Service Transition stage. ITIL foundation certification training explains the ITIL lifecycle in detail and all its processes. Any online ITIL training will include information about the DIKW hierarchy, which is an important model that IT service managers need to understand and use.
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What is the DIKW hierarchy? And why should you use it?
Data is messy and must be processed to make it useful. The DIKW hierarchy explains how data can be transformed into information, knowledge, or wisdom. Let’s take a look at the DIKW hierarchy definition:
D stands for Data
I stands for Information
K stands for Knowledge
W stands for Wisdom

Two perspectives can be used to understand and contextualize the DIKW process for transforming data into wisdom. Context is the ability to move from a phase where data is collected, information is connected, knowledge is formed and wisdom is joined. The DIKW hierarchy can be understood as a process that begins with research, absorbing, doing, interfacing, and reflecting. These steps link the DIKW hierarchy fluidly. No step is tied to any particular DIKW step. The DIKW hierarchy can also been viewed in terms of time. The levels of data, information, and knowledge are based on past events while wisdom, the final step, looks towards the future.
Data is the first step. Data is the first step towards achieving a meaningful end result. Logging, records, measurements, etc. are all data. Data is a mass of information that includes many things. Therefore, data alone cannot provide meaningful results for IT Service provider. Data does not answer all the questions that can be answered. We will show you how Data is transformed into usable results by using the DIKW hierarchy.

Let’s say that one million subscribers use SMS service from a US telecom operator. This data is too broad to be used for capacity planning or availability planning. Data is processed at the Information stage. Data is analyzed to determine the Who, What and When relationships.
Let’s go back to our example. It is more meaningful to analyze 1 million SMS users. This service is used by eight hundred thousand people between the ages of 15 and 25. This service is used by 80% of users between seven and eleven in the evening. 90% of these users use SMS service even if there is no internet connection. This analyzed data becomes information that answers Who, What and When questions. This is the Information step of the DIKW hierarchy.
Knowledge is the third level of the DIKW hierarchy. The Knowledge step answers the How question. Specific measures are identified and the information from the previous step is used for answering questions based on those measures. For example, how do teens use SMS service? This is a How question that companies might be interested in. This question can be answered by directing the information from the Information step. This is how Information can be converted into Knowledge in the DIKW hierarchy.
Wisdom is the fourth and final step in the DIKW hierarchy. The Wisdom stage is where the knowledge from the previous steps is applied and implemented. Wisdom is the highest level in DIKW hierarchy.