What Is Data Processing?

data-processing Credit: Paper Boat Creative/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Data processing refers to the process of collecting and manipulating raw data to yield useful information. Data processing is also the conversion of raw data into machine-readable form and its subsequent processing by a computer. On BusinessDictionary.com, WebFinance gives a general definition of data processing as the operations performed on data to obtain useful information in the appropriate form.

Data processing converts the otherwise unusable data into a useful form. It involves data storage, organization, modification and final presentation of the desired information. Processed data comes in the form of reports, diagrams and tables. In computing, processed data comes in audio, video, graphic, diagrammatic, text and numeric forms.

There are various techniques of data processing, including manual, automatic and electronic data processing. Manual data processing is a traditional form of data processing that involves manual data collection and collection, analysis and presentation, such as bookkeeping and census exercises. Automatic data processing is an almost obsolete data processing technique that was mainly done using electromagnetic devices, such as electric accounting machines and unit record equipment. Electronic data processing is the widespread, modern technique of collecting, manipulating, analyzing and presenting data and information. Electronic data processing is also known as computerized data processing.