What is Information Systems?

Information systems (IS) is a term that is traditionally used to characterize the acquisition, development, and deployment of computer hardware and software for business applications. While the IS discipline shares many of the same concepts and tools as the disciplines of computer science and information technology (IT), its focus is primarily on the business enterprise.

IS degree programs typically prepare students to design, develop, implement, analyze, and manage complexes of hardware and software within organizations that automate routine business functions such as ordering/billing/invoicing and payroll processing, and that also promote effective communications, ensure ongoing maintenance and control of corporate data resources, and facilitate the retention of customers and the delivery of customer services. Students first obtain a solid understanding of business processes and functions, and then augment that knowledge with strong technical skills to equip them for solving business problems.

IS professionals typically share the responsibility for developing or acquiring new technology, and incorporating it into an organization’s strategy, planning, and operating practices. Successful practitioners also have the ability to effectively manage computational and information resources across diverse operating environments and geographic locations. Further, more and more information systems jobs require strong quantitative, integrative, and analytical skills to facilitate the analysis and interpretation of the massive quantities of business data that are becoming available because of rapid technological enhancements.

In 2002, the U.S. Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in response to ethical and security lapses within government and corporate America. This legislation has created a growth sector for IS professionals having skills and experience in information security and IT auditing and control. As a result, the IS field has taken on a whole new look, with many IS educational programs being re-tooled to meet the increasing staffing demands in these areas.

The IS field is also evolving along other paths. More and more emphasis is being placed on the management of technology, since so many functions of today’s corporations are technology-dependent, and on business analytics and business intelligence, which are used to support decision making within the enterprise.

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