Chapter 1: The Importance of MIS Unit Lesson In this unit, we explore the importance of management information systems (MIS). Management information systems have several components such as data, information, hardware, software, processes, and human elements that provide organizations with the tools for decision-making (Kroenke & Boyle, 2020). Before we start a discussion about information systems, let’s first examine what a computer system is. Computers perform a number of tasks from calculations to word processing and from programming to application development. A computer consists of some basic components such as hardware-like memory chips, a hard drive and motherboard that contains the central processing unit, and software to tell the computer what to do. There are other hardware components such as a monitor to help us see what the computer is doing and a keyboard and a mouse to help us tell the computer what we want to do or to input data. We can apply all of this to better understand what information system is. An information system contains five important components: hardware, software, data, procedures, and people.
An information system (IS) contains hardware such as personal computers, tablets, servers, and server farms. It also includes software such as operating systems and applications that tell the hardware what to do. Information systems use data that can be organized into useful information such as reports, and they use procedures such as instructions to help people know how to do things like save a file or print out a report. Lastly, information systems are used by people who input data and evaluate that data. Let’s use a database as an example. The database is stored using hardware, and the interface for the database is the software. Databases contain data that can be organized in some way, such as queries and reports. Then, we use procedures that instruct the users of the system how to use the database (Kroenke & Boyle, 2020). Compared to information systems, information technology (IT) contains four components, and these four components are used for the purpose of producing information.
Products are the goods or commodities that support technology. Methods are guiding objectives, procedures, or processes that evaluate a product. Inventions are new ideas or innovations that provide the foundation for technological revolution. Standards can be thought of as the criteria for which something is evaluated. These are the four components of information technology (Kroenke & Boyle, 2020). So, in short, information systems and information technology are closely related, but do not mean the same thing. One way to remember this is that you can buy information technology, but you cannot purchase an information system. Let’s take, for example, a system that an organization uses to monitor inventory. You can purchase cloud services to provide the technology (hardware and software, the database structure, and procedures for the operation of the system). Then, you have users who will provide the data to input into the system so that inventory can be monitored. Lastly, you have the procedures that tell your users (people) how to keep the system current. Managing this inventory system is an example of an IS (Kroenke & Boyle, 2020). To sum up, in order to maintain and manage the usage of information systems, we use the term management information systems. Nonroutine Skills and the Value of Information Systems This unit discusses some cost-effective business applications of Facebook and Twitter. These applications moved to the forefront as a communication medium. In turn, businesses recognized their potential and adopted the technology in order to gain a competitive advantage. Employees that can assess and evaluate emerging technologies will be valuable to organizations that must adapt to new technology. Facebook and Twitter are examples of reasons why business professionals should be able to recognize emerging technologies and find ways to apply them to business (Kroenke & Boyle, 2020). Business professionals should acquire job skills that are marketable (nonroutine cognition) such as abstract reasoning, systems thinking, collaboration, and the ability to experiment (Kroenke & Boyle, 2020). Abstract reasoning is the ability to have flexible thinking skills, be creative, use proper judgment, and be able to solve problems logically. In information systems, abstract reasoning is the ability to construct and use a model or representation. Being able to construct a model or representation of a complex situation through abstract reasoning is an important skill for business professionals, who frequently must make decisions under uncertain and highly complex situations (Kroenke & Boyle, 2020). This is a highly marketable skill. Some examples include projects plans, budgets, and business process models.
Systems thinking is the ability to identify and understand how components connect and interact with one another (Kroenke & Boyle, 2020). This is an important skill because business professionals must be able to identify and understand the relationships among the elements involved in a complex situation. For example, suppose a database system was taking too long to generate reports. You could then ask questions to help isolate the problem (Kroenke & Boyle, 2020). Another way to use systems thinking is to illustrate the concept using flows and charts (Figure 4). Collaboration involves working with others to produce ideas, such as working with a team of people to resolve a problem or to create a new product (Kroenke & Boyle, 2020). A good collaboration results in a final work product that is superior to one that would be developed by a person working alone. Collaboration is more than just dividing the work up between the group members and assembling the individual contributions into a whole (a typical student approach to a group project assignment). Good collaboration involves several iterations in which ideas are contributed, reviewed, critiqued, and refined. All members contribute to the development and refinement of ideas (Kroenke & Boyle, 2020). Ability to experiment involves creating and testing promising new alternatives, consistent with available resources. In today’s demanding business environment, new ideas will be essential to success, and business people have to overcome their fear of failure and pursue new approaches rationally. When someone says, “that will never work,” he or she may be reflecting their fear of failure. Unwilling to try a new way of doing things may be an accurate assessment that the approach is unworkable, but it could also be an unwillingness to work in a new way (Kroenke & Boyle, 2020). Providing employees with the freedom to experiment will foster an environment that encourages innovation. This means the company should allow its employees to take risks and experiment with modern ideas and theories. This is especially true when a problem requires an innovative solution. This type of situation will push employees beyond what they are capable of so that they can become pioneers by thinking outside the box. Unfortunately, for employees that are not able to do this, their employment with the organization will be relatively short (Kroenke & Boyle, 2020). The textbook defines job security as possessing a useful skill and not being afraid to use it (Kroenke & Boyle, 2020). The textbook also argues that marketable skills are no longer specific task-related skills, but rather strong cognitive and thinking skills (Kroenke & Boyle, 2020) Unfortunately, the more traditional task-oriented skills you learn (e.g., computer programming, accounting) will not provide you with job security. Technical skills are not irrelevant to job security, but they are not sufficient to guarantee job security. This circumstance is very different than in the 1990s, when technical skills probably were sufficient to get and keep a decent job. To sum up, management information systems is the maintenance and management of information systems. Information is a term we use to describe data that has been transformed into useful information. For example, after we enter data, such as inventory numbers into a database, we can then run a report to better understand what items need to be reordered in order to keep the product in stock. Information systems and information technology are closely related to one another, but they do not mean the same thing. Information systems are a collection of components such as hardware, software, data, procedures, and people. Examples of information systems are enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Information technology is about using computers or computer systems to store, retrieve, manipulate, and send information.
Reference Kroenke, D. M, & Boyle, R. J. (2020). Using MIS (12th ed.). Pea