The mission of Information Systems is to improve the performance of people in organizations through the use of information technology. In the early days of Information Systems, the ‘translation’ between IT and users was performed almost entirely by systems analysts.
Over the last 50 years technology has become increasingly complex and powerful; users have become increasingly sophisticated and Information Systems are now viewed as ‘products’ and users have become ‘customers’. This has resulted in more specialization required of systems professionals to bridge this wider technology gap. Technology is getting more complex, applications are becoming more sophisticated, and users are participating more heavily in the development of applications. As a result, management of the process is becoming more complex and difficult as its importance increases.
Below is a framework for IS Management proposed by McNurlin & Sprague.
This model has four principal elements with the overall responsibility to harness IT to improve the performance of the people and the organization:
- The management of the IS function
- The technology – which provides the electronic and information infrastructure
- Information workers who use IT to accomplish their work goals
- System development and delivery – which brings the technology and users together
Explaining each element:
- Executive leadership to manage the entire process of applying the technology to achieve organisational objectives and goals. IT has become too important to be left to one individual.
- Executive team must work together to govern and leverage IT well.
- C-level executives, divisional and department heads.
- Chief Information Officer: who must be high enough in the enterprise to influence organizational goals; must have enough credibility to lead the harnessing of technology to pursue those goals; must work with all the other CXOs.
- A set of technologies that represent the IT infrastructure installed and managed by the IS/IT department e.g. web services, mobile applications, integration of multimedia and consumer electronics.
Several forces contribute to the increased importance and complexity of IT: growth in capacity plus reduction in cost and size; merging of previously separate technologies of computers, telephones/telecom/cable TV, office equipment and consumer electronics; ability to store and handle multiple forms of data.
Information systems now fill major roles in management reporting, problem solving and analysis, office support, customer service and communications.
- A set of users who need to use IT to improve their job performance:
Clerical: Support procedure-based activities. For example: back office, mortgage servicing, payroll processing, check processing.
Managerial: Support knowledge-based activities. For example: loan department, asset/liability management, planning department, corporate banking.
It is to be noted that the distinction between manager and worker is blurring.
- A delivery mechanism for developing, delivering and implementing solutions/applications; bridging the gap between technology and users and enabling the business.
Systems for procedure-based (clerical) activities differ from systems for knowledge based information work (managerial)
Systems are built based on technology resources. There are three main categories (essential technologies): hardware and software, telecommunications and information resources. Management of these is called infrastructure management.