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Benchmark vs. Datum: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 18, 2023
"Benchmark is a standard or reference by which others can be measured or judged; Datum refers to a single piece of information, often a factual basis for reasoning or calculation."

Key Differences

A Benchmark serves as a standard or point of reference in measuring or judging quality, value, or performance, applicable across different fields and often used to establish a bar for excellence or compliance. Conversely, a Datum is a singular form of data, representing a fact, observation, or piece of information, used as a premise or starting point for further reasoning or calculations.
In the context of performance evaluation, a Benchmark is utilized as a performance metric or standard that is commonly accepted, and against which other results are assessed. In contrast, a Datum, in scientific or technical use, stands as a singular measurement or observation, which forms the foundation upon which additional data is collected or hypotheses are developed.
The establishment of a Benchmark requires the identification of optimal operational processes or performance outcomes, serving as a goal for others to strive for. On the other hand, a Datum might not signify perfection or a desired state but is an objective piece of information critical for various analytical or processing purposes.
In a competitive environment, companies might use a Benchmark to gauge their success against industry leaders, aiming to meet or surpass these established standards. However, a Datum is neutral and does not carry implications of competition or comparison; it's a singular piece of factual information necessary for decision-making processes.
While Benchmarks are quintessential for strategic planning, ensuring that entities have clear goals aligned with industry standards, a Datum's role is more functional, providing the factual basis necessary for sound reasoning, decision-making, or scientific discovery.

Comparison Chart


Standard or reference
Singular piece of information


Comparison, assessment
Basis for reasoning, analysis

Context of Use

Performance, quality evaluation
Data analysis, scientific research


Competitive, aspirational
Neutral, factual


Comparative, relative
Absolute, foundational

Benchmark and Datum Definitions


Benchmark: a standard or set of standards used as a point of reference for evaluating performance or level of quality.
The company's record sales this quarter set a new benchmark for success in the industry.


A fact known from direct observation.
Each datum collected during the experiments was recorded for later analysis.


Benchmark: a point of reference for a measurement.
The stone wall served as a benchmark for the property's boundary.


A reference or calibration point.
The surveyors established a datum before measuring the land.


Benchmark: a level of quality that can be used as a standard when comparing other things.
Her work is a benchmark of quality and craftsmanship.


A proposition or starting point for reasoning.
The researcher used the datum as a foundational point for his hypothesis.


A standard by which something can be measured or judged
"Inflation ... is a great distorter of seemingly fixed economic ideas and benchmarks" (Benjamin M. Friedman).


A single piece of information.
The datum was critical in plotting the new astronomical charts.


Often bench mark A surveyor's mark made on a stationary object of previously determined position and elevation and used as a reference point, as in geologic surveys or tidal observations.


Pl. da·ta (-tə) A fact or proposition used to draw a conclusion or make a decision. See Usage Note at data.


To measure (a rival's product) according to specified standards in order to compare it with and improve one's own product.


Pl. da·tums A point, line, or surface used as a reference, as in surveying, mapping, or geology.


A standard by which something is evaluated or measured.


(dated) data; a single recorded observation.


A surveyor's mark made on some stationary object and shown on a map; used as a reference point.


(plural: data) (philosophy) A fact known from direct observation.


(computing) A computer program that is executed to assess the performance of the runtime environment.


(plural: data) (philosophy) A premise from which conclusions are drawn.


(transitive) To measure the performance or quality of (an item) relative to another similar item in an impartial scientific manner.


(plural: datums) A fixed reference point or set of reference points which precisely define a system of measurement or a coordinate system.


To give certain results in a benchmark test.


(plural: datums) (nautical) A floating reference point, or SLDMB, used to evaluate surface currents in a body of water. Often employed by coastal search and rescue.


To use something (e.g., a competitor's product) as a standard to improve one's own thing.


To provide missing data points by using a mathematical model to extrapolate values that are outside the range of a measuring device.


Any permanent mark to which other levels may be referred.


Something given or admitted; a fact or principle granted; that upon which an inference or an argument is based; - used chiefly in the plural.
Any writer, therefore, who . . . furnishes us with data sufficient to determine the time in which he wrote.


Something serving as a standard by which related items may be judged; as, his painting sets the benchmark of quality.


A single piece of information; a fact; especially a piece of information obtained by observation or experiment; - used mostly in the plural.


A test or series of tests designed to compare the qualities or performance of different devices of the same type. Certain sets of computer programs are much used as benchmarks for comparing the performance of different computers, especially by comparing the time it takes to complete a test.


The quantities or relations which are assumed to be given in any problem.


A standard by which something can be measured or judged;
His painting sets the benchmark of quality


A point, line, or level surface used as a reference in measuring elevations.


A surveyor's mark on a permanent object of predetermined position and elevation used as a reference point


An item of factual information derived from measurement or research


Benchmark: a measurement of the quality of an organization's policies, products, programs, strategies, etc., and their comparison with standard measurements.
Their customer service is the benchmark by which all others are judged.


A fixed starting point of a scale or operation.
Sea level is often used as a datum in elevation measurements.


Benchmark: a technical measure by which something can be compared or assessed.
The new software became the benchmark for visual effects in video games.


How does a Datum function in research?

A Datum functions as a singular piece of factual information, used as a starting point for reasoning or further investigation.

What exactly is a Benchmark?

A Benchmark is a standard or point of reference used to measure and judge the quality or value of something.

Are Benchmarks only used in business?

No, Benchmarks are used across various fields, including technology, education, and healthcare, to set standards and goals.

Can a Datum be subjective?

Generally, a Datum is considered to be objective, representing factual information without interpretation or bias.

How do companies determine their Benchmarks?

Companies often determine Benchmarks by analyzing industry standards, competitor performance, and their historical data.

In science, what's the importance of a Datum?

In science, a Datum is crucial as it represents the factual basis upon which hypotheses are formed and research is conducted.

What's a real-world example of a Benchmark?

An example of a Benchmark could be the average industry profit margin, which companies use to gauge their financial performance.

Can one Datum be more valuable than another?

The value of a Datum can vary depending on its relevance, applicability, and impact on the research or project at hand.

Is a Datum the same as data?

No, a Datum is singular—a single piece of information—while "data" is the plural form, referring to multiple pieces of information.

Can a Benchmark change over time?

Yes, Benchmarks can evolve based on advancements, innovations, and changes in industry standards or societal expectations.

Can Benchmarks be used in personal development?

Yes, individuals can use Benchmarks to set personal goals, such as benchmarks for learning progress or fitness achievements.

How reliable is a Datum?

A Datum's reliability depends on the accuracy and credibility of the source or method through which it was obtained.

Why are Benchmarks important in education?

Benchmarks in education help to set standards of performance for students, guiding curriculum goals and student assessments.

In what scenario is a Datum critical?

A Datum is critical in scenarios requiring factual evidence for decision-making, problem-solving, or hypothesis testing.

What's the difference between a Datum and a metric?

A Datum is a single piece of information, while a metric is a system or standard of measurement.

Is a Datum always quantitative?

No, a Datum can be qualitative or quantitative; it can represent numerical information or a descriptive observation.

Are there any downsides to using Benchmarks?

Benchmarks can limit innovation if they cause entities to focus solely on meeting set standards rather than exploring new possibilities.

How is a Datum verified?

A Datum is verified through methods like source corroboration, replication of results, or peer review in academic contexts.

How are Benchmarks used in investing?

In investing, Benchmarks like stock indices are used to compare the performance of individual investments or portfolios.

Can Benchmarks be misleading?

If not accurately represented or interpreted, Benchmarks can be misleading, especially if they're outdated or lack context.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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