WHAT IS AN INFORMATION SYSTEM?
In working with this lab manual we will learn about information systems, how they work,
how they are designed, and tools for constructing and using them. What is an information
system? One definition is a system is a collection of
that work together to provide information to a person on an organization.
What does that definition tell us? First of all, an information system is a collection of
components. That means that the individual components of the system all work together
for a common purpose. In the case of an information system, the purpose is to provide
information. The organization uses that information to operate the organization, manage
the organization, and evaluate opportunities for the organization.
Our definition tells us that an information system is composed of hardware, software,
data, people and procedures. These components can be better understood with the help of
an example. Perhaps you have used a customer-operated checkout station at a store. The
hardware often consists of a barcode scanner, a touch-screen monitor, some kind of
sound output, a receipt printer, a money-handling device to accept payment and dispense
change, and a credit card scanner. The software is what the customer interacts with,
telling the customer what buttons to press, when to scan, and how much to pay. The data
includes the barcodes that are scanned, the prices that are associated with each barcode,
the amount of money paid, etc. The people are the customers that use the system and the
employees who serve in support roles. The procedures include built-in rules for figuring
sales tax or handling credit card approvals. Procedures also include manual procedures
such as having employees manually check credit card signatures.
Information systems come in all sizes and all shapes. Later in this chapter we will
examine an information system that runs entirely on a single PC in Microsoft Access.
Many other information systems run on the Internet using sophisticated web
programming, multiple web and database servers, remote communication lines, and
higher-end databases, such as Oracle, IBM DB2, or SQL Server. Other information
systems run on large mainframe computers with users connecting through terminals.
Other information systems run on corporate networks, splitting the processing load
between server computers and user PCs. Though these information systems are very
different, they all have hardware, software, data, people, and procedures working
CNIT 180: Lab1 – Introduction to Information Systems Concepts