What Are Information Systems?
What Are Information Systems?
Information is any sensory stimuli which has independent meaning for the receiver. When information is input to and stored in a computer system, it is commonly called data. When information is processed – like converting and printing information – it can be again seen as information. However, when the processing is done in real time – by a person for example – it’s termed information for that person. In much the same way that there are many different types of people and different occupations, there are also many different types of information systems and ways of storing information.
One of the simplest and yet most accurate forms of information is quantitative data, that is, data which can be understood or measured in terms of another quantitative data. This may be graphical data, such as line graphs or bar charts, or it may be quantitative data, such as the production in millions of units or calories of a product per hour. Of course, in this example we are talking about something that could be immediately measured or otherwise easily manipulated. Ordinal data on the other hand cannot be easily manipulated; it must be studied in relation to some other known or existing quantitative data.
The term ‘information science’ was first used in the 1950s to describe a field which combines mathematics and technology to improve the quality of information systems. In this way of thinking, information systems are said to represent reality as it occurs. Quantitative information systems are designed so that users can make the necessary connections between quantitative data and the behavior of real people. Qualitative information systems are normally engineering based and deal with problems concerning manufacturing, distribution, safety, and financial matters. Ordinary information systems deal only with information and are thus used to make decisions. These decisions can be based on the data obtained or on known facts, both of which may themselves be quantitative or qualitative.
The goal of information systems is to organize the large amount of information that is produced by various processes. They are designed to reduce the errors that may occur due to a lack of organization. Information systems are useful because they provide users with the tools necessary to make sense of the large amounts of data that are produced in any given organization. In fact, information systems are increasingly being seen as a tool for decision making. This means that quantitative data provided by an organization could be used to support or contradict a variety of organizational decisions.
An information system is not something that can be instantly understood by users. It is a complex system of numbers, symbols, and interconnected programs that must be understood in order for the users to make informed decisions. Thus information systems differ greatly from traditional management approaches that focus on bottom-up information and the collection of direct information as well as information that is generated as a result of the tasks and efforts of employees. Traditional information systems often fail to take into account the distributional implications of the data and thus end up creating inaccurate estimates of the value of the output. On the other hand, information systems are specifically designed to take into account the distributional implications of the information that they produce and hence can be used to provide accurate information about the value of a product or a service.
Information systems have become a part of many organizations, both large and small, because they are able to leverage available information to provide managers with the information they need to make strategic decisions that can improve the organization in significant ways. They also provide managers with the information they need to monitor the performance of employees in terms of their productivity and performance. Information systems have become an integral part of organizations from manufacturing companies to hospitals because of their ability to leverage available information to support organizational objectives. Organizations that do not yet have information systems in place will soon realize the importance of the technologies.