Importance of Learning Information Systems

Information systems are used in almost every imaginable career area.

* Sales representatives use information systems to advertise products, communicate with customers, and analyze sales trends.

* Managers use them to aid them in decision making, such as deciding to build a new manufacturing plant or research a new cancer drug.

* Corporate lawyers use information systems to develop contracts and other legal documents for their firm.

* From a small music store to huge multinational companies, businesses of all sizes could not survive without information systems to perform various activities of business functions such as accounting and finance.

* Why learn about information systems? What is in it for you? Regardless of your chosen career, you will find that information systems are indispensable tools to help you achieve your career aspirations.

Information Systems Careers

Information systems personnel typically work in an IS department. They may also work in other functional departments or areas in a support capacity. In general, IS personnel are charged with maintaining the broadest perspective of organizational goals. IS personnel operate as an internal consultant to all functional areas of the organization, being knowledgeable and competent in bringing the power of IS to bear throughout the organization.

For most medium-to large-sized organizations, information resources are typically managed through an IS department. In smaller businesses, one or more people may manage information resources, with support from outside services—outsourcing1. Outsourcing is also popular with larger organizations.

In a typical IS department the head of the department is known as the Chief Information Officer (CIO)/IT Director and reports to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).


The operations component of a typical IS department focuses on the use of information systems in corporate or business unit computer facilities. It tends to focus more on the efficiency of IS functions rather than their effectiveness. The primary function of a system operator is to run and maintain IS equipment.

System operators are responsible for starting, stopping, and correctly operating computer systems, networks, tape drives, disk devices, printers, and so on. Other operations include scheduling, hardware maintenance, and preparation of input and output. Data-entry operators convert data into a form the computer system can use.

They may use terminals or other devices to enter business transactions, such as sales orders and payroll data. Increasingly, data entry is being automated—captured at the source of the transaction rather than being entered later. In addition, companies may have local area network and Web or Internet operators who are responsible for running the local network and any Internet sites the company may have.

Systems Development

The systems development component of a typical IS department focuses on specific development projects and ongoing maintenance and review. System development includes system analysts and programming staff. The role of a systems analyst is multifaceted. Systems analysts help users determine what outputs they need from the system and construct the plans needed to develop the necessary programs that produce these outputs.

Systems analysts then work with one or more programmers (team work) to make sure that the appropriate programs are purchased, modified from existing programs, or developed. The major responsibility of a computer programmer is to use the plans developed by the systems analyst to develop or adapt one or more computer programs that produce the desired outputs. The main focus of systems analysts and programmers is to achieve and maintain IS effectiveness.

With the dramatic increase in the use of the Internet, intranets, and extranets, many companies have Web or Internet developers who are responsible for developing effective and attractive Internet sites for customers, internal personnel, suppliers, stockholders, and others with a business relationship with the company.


The support component of a typical IS department focuses on providing user assistance in the areas of hardware and software acquisition and use, data administration, user training and assistance, and Web administration. Because IS hardware and software are costly, especially if purchase mistakes are made, the acquisition of computer hardware and software is often managed by a specialized support
group. This group sets guidelines and standards for the rest of the organization to follow in making

Gaining and maintaining an understanding of available technology, evaluation of these technologies, as well as vendor relationship management is an important part of the acquisition of information systems.

A database administrator focuses on planning, policies, and procedures regarding the use of corporate data and information.

For example, database administrators develop and disseminate information about the corporate databases for developers of IS applications. In addition, the database administrator is charged with monitoring and controlling database use.

For example, internal support staff may train managers and employees in the best way to enter sales orders, to receive computerized inventory reports, and to submit expense reports electronically. Companies also hire outside firms to help train users in other areas, including the use of word processing, spreadsheets, and database programs.

Other IS Careers

Apart from careers associated with a typical IS department in an organization, IS personnel can work for consulting firms such as IBM and EDS. Other jobs include working in IT education, Sales/Marketing of IT services among others.

Skills Required by IS Personnel

The type of skills required by an IS personnel may vary depending on their job description. However, generally, in addition to technical skills, IS personnel need to develop written and verbal communication skills, leadership skills, inter-personal skills, analytical and administration skills among others. As most careers related to IS involves considerable amount of team work, it is important to acquire skills required to work efficiently and effectively in a group/team.


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