Management Information Systems (MIS) is a formal discipline within business education that bridges the gap between computer science and well-known business disciplines such as finance, marketing, and management. In spite of this, most students will only take one or two MIS courses as part of their undergraduate program.
The term “Management Information Systems” has several definitions, depending upon where you look or whom you ask. Common among these many definitions is that MIS represent a collection of technologies, people, and processes that manage the information and communication resources of an organization.
Even if you do not realize it, you use MIS every day. If you use email, you are using MIS, as email is an information system (granted, you, the user, only see one end of it). If you log into a computer every morning and access or edit data on corporate servers, you are using information systems. In general terms, information systems encompass any interactions between organized data and people. MIS can be the means by which information is transmitted (such as the Internet), the software that displays the information (such as Microsoft Excel), or the systems that manage the data. In this course, you will learn about the components of management information systems and how to leverage them in business.
This unit will introduce you to the concept of MIS and the impact it has on business organizations. Most people recognize that information systems are composed of technologies such as computers, keyboards, and networks, but technology is just one small component. Some argue that other components of MIS are far more important. Information systems are made up three high-level components: technology, people, and process. Later in the course, you will spend more time learning about the specifics of each of the three components introduced in this unit.
Innovation drives MIS. The right technology, processes, and people come together to solve problems utilizing new techniques and strategies. In this unit, you will also look at the applications of MIS in business and learn how far MIS has come since the inception of the information age.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 6.5 hours.
As mentioned in the course introduction, much of MIS is now centered on technology. Accordingly, MIS capabilities are mostly limited to the hardware and software capabilities of a given system. Ten years ago, the average Internet user could download an MP3 music file in a few minutes over a cable. This can now be done in seconds wirelessly from just about anywhere in the developed world thanks to improvements in hardware and software. While it is nearly impossible to remain in front of technology developments, it is possible to analyze trends in technology advancements and identify what hardware and software may give you a competitive advantage.
This unit will first discuss the hardware component of technology, followed by software. The unit finishes with a discussion of networking as a component of technology.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 11 hours.
Data is a collection of facts. For example, population estimates for China and the United States are “data.” Information is the presentation of these facts in an organized manner, that is, the presentation of these population counts side-by-side with other facts like per-capita income, for example. Knowledge refers to the use of information to make informed decisions. In this case, you might consider these figures critical knowledge for making policy decisions about China and the United States. Managing data allows the government, corporations, and even individuals to apply this knowledge to their everyday lives. Managing data can be difficult because databases are often filled with more information than you need. In this unit, you will explore the challenges of data management and learn how to take data and turn it into knowledge.
We have used the word “database” a number of times in this course. We will now define and study databases in detail. Entire courses are devoted to this subject – such as Saylor Academy’s CS403: Introduction to Modern Database Systems and CS410: Advanced Databases – as the uses and types of databases are as varied as the businesses that use them. However, you can expect to leave this unit with enough of an understanding of databases to have a conversation with a database administrator about the needs of your team or department. This course focuses on relational databases.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 8.5 hours.
Strategic MIS is the application of information management in the overall strategy of a business. Many corporations include a Chief Information Officer (CIO) in executive management to implement information systems to be more competitive. What good would it do for Apple to create an iPhone application that can tell where you are and serve you ads based on location if it was unable to process that information? Part of the role of the CIO would be to figure out if it is possible to do this now -- and if not now, when it will be.
This unit will examine how information technology and information systems change the way organizations operate. The unit starts with an examination of some of the key technological forces that characterize the information age, which all firms must consider in their strategic planning. Next, you will learn about the special characteristics and challenges faced by “business-to-business” operations. The unit concludes with an examination how organizations adapt to technological changes.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 11.5 hours.
Businesses have diverse needs. While software packages for managing information exist, most software is not “plug and play” ready for most business applications. IT departments, in conjunction with representatives from all lines of business, must work together to develop and implement information system solutions. The IS development process can range from the simple to the extremely complicated. Managers often find themselves disagreeing about what information is most important and what is worth developing. Tradeoffs between financial resources, time, and the capabilities of current information systems can lead to frustration; for this reason, IS development is a very important function within a business.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 6.5 hours.
Information systems’ reach extends well beyond the world of business. Today it is nearly as easy to communicate with someone on the other side of the world as it is to talk to someone next door. New technologies create situations that society has never dealt with before. How do we handle the new capabilities that these technologies enable? Will societies need new laws, new social mores, to protect us from ourselves regarding technology?
This unit concludes with a look at the future of MIS. After studying the security issues and failures of various systems, the outlook can seem bleak. Wherever there is a problem in MIS, there are opportunities to find profitable solutions.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 13 hours.
Note: These study guides are intended to help reinforce key concepts in each unit in preparation for the final exam. Each unit study guide aligns with course outcomes and provides a summary of the core competencies and a list of vocabulary terms. This study guide is not meant to replace the readings and videos that make up the course.
The vocabulary lists include (1) some terms that might help you answer some of the review items and (2) some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.