When we talk about data processing, we are talking about the change in the information. The change, may or may not be detectable to an observer. If the change is sufficiently big enough, then it will be detected but when the change is minute, then an observer may not be able to decipher it. The sequence of events involved in processing of information is known as the information processing cycle.
The sequence of events which make up the cycle are:
This is the first event in the cycle. This stage involves collection of data from external sources or from within the system. One can break this stage into three sub-stages, namely acquisition, data entry, and validation. After the data has been acquired from the source, it is entered into the current system upon which it is validated so that the correct results are obtained. The commonly used input devices are computer keyboard, bar code readers, scanners, output from another system, etc.
In this stage the computer processes the minutest details entered. This makes the data entered usable. If the computer was not able to process data, it would not be of any use and it would be a big mess. The system used for processing, along with the data entered will decide the kind of output which the user will get.
The processed information is now transmitted to the user. After processing the data, there can be further interactive queries asked or routine reports can be given. There can be printed reports, which may be given to the user. The output can also be given in the form of audio as well as video. In some cases, the results may only be displayed on the computer monitor.
After the data has been processed along with the output to the user, it is also stored. Some of the commonly used data storage methods are disk storage, tertiary storage, etc. Storing the data also serves another purpose. You will not have to repeat the entire cycle again. Often the storage is done in both digital as well as hard copy format. At the same time, backup of the digital format is also maintained which can be retrieved in case of system crash.
The most important advantage of this cycle is that the information is processed quickly. At the same time retrieving the data is an easy task. The necessary information is stored, which helps in avoiding duplication of data.