Saturday, 12 March 2011

Information systems

Information Systems (IS) is an academic/professional discipline bridging the business field and the well-defined computer science field that is evolving toward a new scientific area of study.[4][5][6][7] An information systems discipline therefore is supported by the theoretical foundations of information and computations such that learned scholars have unique opportunities to explore the academics of various business models as well as related algorithmic processes within a computer science discipline.[8][9][10] Typically, information systems or the more common legacy information systems include people, procedures, data, software, and hardware (by degree) that are used to gather and analyze digital information.[11][12] Specifically computer-based information systems are complementary networks of hardware/software that people and organizations use to collect, filter, process, create, & distribute data (computing).[13] Computer Information System(s) (CIS) is often a track within the computer science field studying computers and algorithmic processes, including their principles, their software & hardware designs, their applications, and their impact on society.[14][15][16] Overall, an IS discipline emphasizes functionality over design.[17]

As illustrated by the Venn Diagram on the right, the history of information systems coincides with the history of computer science that began long before the modern discipline of computer science emerged in the twentieth century.[18] Regarding the circulation of information and ideas, numerous legacy information systems still exist today that are continuously updated to promote ethnographic approaches, to ensure data integrity, and to improve the social effectiveness & efficiency of the whole process.[19] In general, information systems are focused upon processing information within organizations, especially within business enterprises, and sharing the benefits with modern society


Silver et al. (1995) provided two views on (IS) and IS-centered view that includes software, hardware, data, people, and procedures. A second managerial view includes people, business processes and Information Systems.

There are various types of information systems, for example: transaction processing systems, office systems, decision support systems, knowledge management systems, database management systems, and office information systems. Critical to most information systems are information technologies, which are typically designed to enable humans to perform tasks for which the human brain is not well suited, such as: handling large amounts of information, performing complex calculations, and controlling many simultaneous processes.

Information technologies are a very important and malleable resource available to executives.[21] Many companies have created a position of Chief Information Officer (CIO) that sits on the executive board with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Technical Officer (CTO).The CTO may also serve as CIO, and vice versa. The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), who focuses on information security management.


Silver et al.[22] defined Information Systems as follows:

    Information systems are implemented within an organization for the purpose of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of that organization. Capabilities of the information system and characteristics of the organization, its work systems, its people, and its development and implementation methodologies together determine the extent to which that purpose is achieved

The Discipline of Information Systems

Several IS scholars have debated the nature and foundations of Information Systems which has its roots in other reference disciplines such as Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Management Science, Cybernetics, and others

The Impact on Economic Models

    * Microeconomic theory model
    * Transaction Cost theory
    * Agency Theory

Differentiating IS from Related Disciplines

Similar to computer science, other disciplines can be seen as both related disciplines and foundation disciplines of IS. But, while there may be considerable overlap of the disciplines at the boundaries, the disciplines are still differentiated by the focus, purpose and orientation of their activities.[27]

In a broad scope, the term Information Systems (IS) is a scientific field of study that addresses the range of strategic, managerial and operational activities involved in the gathering, processing, storing, distributing and use of information, and its associated technologies, in society and organizations.[28] The term information systems is also used to describe an organizational function that applies IS knowledge in industry, government agencies and not-for-profit organizations.[29] Information Systems often refers to the interaction between algorithmic processes and technology. This interaction can occur within or across organizational boundaries. An information system is not only the technology an organization uses, but also the way in which the organizations interact with the technology and the way in which the technology works with the organization’s business processes. Information systems are distinct from information technology (IT) in that an information system has an information technology component that interacts with the processes components.

Types of information systems

The 'classic' view of Information systems found in the textbooks[30] of the 1980s was of a pyramid of systems that reflected the hierarchy of the organization, usually Transaction processing systems at the bottom of the pyramid, followed by Management information systems, Decision support systems and ending with Executive information systems at the top. Although the pyramid model remains useful, since it was first formulated a number of new technologies have been developed and new categories of information systems have emerged, some of which no longer fit easily into the original pyramid model.

Some examples of such systems are:

    * Data warehouses
    * Enterprise resource planning
    * Enterprise systems
    * Expert systems
    * Geographic information system
    * Global information system
    * Office Automation

Information systems career pathways

Information Systems have a number of different areas of work:

    * Information systems strategy
    * Information systems management
    * Information systems development
    * Information systems security
    * Information systems iteration
    * Information system organization

There are a wide variety of career paths in the information systems discipline. "Workers with specialized technical knowledge and strong communications skills will have the best prospects. Workers with management skills and an understanding of business practices and principles will have excellent opportunities, as companies are increasingly looking to technology to drive their revenue

Information systems development

Information technology departments in larger organizations tend to strongly influence information technology development, use, and application in the organizations, which may be a business or corporation. A series of methodologies and processes can be used in order to develop and use an information system. Many developers have turned and used a more engineering approach such as the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) which is a systematic procedure of developing an information system through stages that occur in sequence. An Information system can be developed in house (within the organization) or outsourced. This can be accomplished by outsourcing certain components or the entire system.[32] A specific case is the geographical distribution of the development team (Offshoring, Global Information System).

A computer based information system, following a definition of Langefors,[33] is:

    * a technologically implemented medium for recording, storing, and disseminating linguistic expressions,
    * as well as for drawing conclusions from such expressions.

which can be formulated as a generalized information systems design mathematical program

Geographic Information Systems, Land Information systems and Disaster Information Systems are also some of the emerging information systems but they can be broadly considered as Spatial Information Systems. System development is done in stages which include:

    * Problem recognition and specification
    * Information gathering
    * Requirements specification for the new system
    * System design
    * System construction
    * System implementation
    * Review and maintenance

Information systems research

Information systems research is generally interdisciplinary concerned with the study of the effects of information systems on the behavior of individuals, groups, and organizations.[35][36] Hevner et al. (2004) [37] categorized research in IS into two scientific paradigms including behavioral science which is to develop and verify theories that explain or predict human or organizational behavior and design science which extends the boundaries of human and organizational capabilities by creating new and innovative artifacts.

Salvatore March and Gerald Smith [38] proposed a framework for researching different aspects of Information Technology including outputs of the research (research outputs) and activities to carry out this research (research activities). They identified research outputs as follows:

   1. Constructs which are concepts that form the vocabulary of a domain. They constitute a conceptualization used to describe problems within the domain and to specify their solutions.
   2. A model which is a set of propositions or statements expressing relationships among constructs.
   3. A method which is a set of steps (an algorithm or guideline) used to perform a task. Methods are based on a set of underlying constructs and a representation (model) of the solution space.
   4. An instantiation is the realization of an artifact in its environment.

Also research activities including:

   1. Build an artifact to perform a specific task.
   2. Evaluate the artifact to determine if any progress has been achieved.
   3. Given an artifact whose performance has been evaluated, it is important to determine why and how the artifact worked or did not work within its environment. Therefore theorize and justify theories about IT artifacts.

Although Information Systems as a discipline has been evolving for over 30 years now,[39] the core focus or identity of IS research is still subject to debate among scholars such as.[40][41][42] There are two main views around this debate: a narrow view focusing on the IT artifact as the core subject matter of IS research, and a broad view that focuses on the interplay between social and technical aspects of IT that is embedded into a dynamic evolving context.[43] A third view provided by [44] calling IS scholars to take a balanced attention for both the IT artifact and its context.

Since information systems is an applied field, industry practitioners expect information systems research to generate findings that are immediately applicable in practice. However, that is not always the case. Often information systems researchers explore behavioral issues in much more depth than practitioners would expect them to do. This may render information systems research results difficult to understand, and has led to criticism.[45]

To study an information system itself, rather than its effects, information systems models are used, such as EATPUT.

The international body of Information Systems researchers, the Association for Information Systems (AIS), and its Senior Scholars Forum Subcommittee on Journals (23 April 2007), proposed a 'basket' of journals that the AIS deems as 'excellent', and nominated: Management Information Systems Quarterly (MISQ), Information Systems Research (ISR), Journal of Association of Information Systems (JAIS), Journal of Management Information Systems (JMIS), European Journal of Information Systems (EJIS), and Information Systems Journal (ISJ)