Business Information Systems & Technologies Research Paper Starter

Business Information Systems & Technologies

(Research Starters)

The influx of data enabled by the technologies of the Information Age has literally transformed many businesses. Most businesses today use information technology in some form to create, store, and distribute information. There are three interdependent components of information systems: Computers, communications and expertise. These components must work together in order for an information system to effectively support the organization in its activities and mission. Information systems have several basic functions, including the capture, processing, generation, storage, retrieval, and transmission of data.

The influx of data enabled by the technologies of the Information Age and with which we are bombarded every day has literally transformed many businesses. At a basic level, much correspondence today is not sent by mail or even faxed, but is transmitted nearly instantaneously around the world via e-mail. Accounting and project management tasks that used to be labor intensive jobs done by hand have benefited from spreadsheet application software that allows quick and easy manipulation of data, checking of calculations, and monitoring of tasks. Huge databases improve the ability of organizations to perform customer relationship management to better serve the customer as well as data mining to determine previously unknown relationships that help the organization better market its products and services. Information technology is the use of technology from computers, communications networks, and electronics to create, store, and disperse information and knowledge. Various technology components are put together in an information system that facilitates the flow of data (i.e., raw facts, figures, or details) and information (i.e., organized, meaningful, interpreted data) between people or departments.

There are several characteristics of the information age that set it apart from other periods in history. First, the proliferation of information technology has led to a situation where society in many countries today is information-based, with more people dealing with information than with agriculture or manufacturing. As the number and range of available information technologies increase, a concomitant number of businesses depend on information technology to accomplish their work. This dependence is on both the computer technologies that enable organizations to gather, store, manipulate, and analyze data, and also on the communication technologies that allow them to interconnect more quickly and efficiently than ever before. In fact, the understanding of information technology and information systems is so important in the information age, that in many situations it is difficult if not impossible to be successful in the business world without it. Information technology has become so much a part of our lives today that it is often embedded in other products and services that we take for granted. For example, the phone call one makes for technical support may be enabled by network technology and wireless communications systems so that the call can be answered by a technician working halfway around the world. The prevalence of information technology does not mean that an organization needs to implement information technology to be successful, however. Like the manufacturing technology that came before it and the agricultural technology before that, information technology is only a tool and must be understood in order to optimize its usefulness in the organization.

Information technology does more than support our work. In many cases it also transforms the way that we accomplish our tasks and even allows us to do things that we would never have been able to accomplish before. Work processes are constantly being transformed through the application of information technology in order to improve productivity and free humans from many repetitive tasks. For example, typewriters have given way to word processors which, in turn, have given way to multitasking computers that allow us to view, create, edit, and interact with not just documents but images, audio, animation, movies, websites, and more. However, information technology not only allows humans to perform existing processes more quickly or efficiently than ever before, in many cases it also allows us to rethink and reengineer the way that we do things in the workplace. Business process reengineering helps organizations and managers rethink their practices and processes and introduce radical improvements that benefit both the organization and its customers. For example, the division of labor necessary to the industrial age is frequently being replaced by teamwork, information sharing, and other ways of increasing the interconnectedness of workers.

Three Components of Information Technology

As shown in Figure 1, information technology comprises three interdependent components: computers, communications and expertise. The computer component of an information technology system can be any electronic system that can be instructed to accept, process, store, and present data. Although most people are familiar with desktop computers for work and home, many other devices meet this definition, including the microwave oven in the kitchen, the timer for the front door lights, the autofocus digital camera, the ATM machine outside the bank, and the automatic ticket kiosk at the cinema.


In general, computers can be classified into four size categories. Microcomputers or personal computers are relatively compact. This category of computers includes desktop computers that comprise a display unit and keyboard which sit easily on a desk or table with the processing unit fitting on or under the desk. Notebook or laptop computers are smaller versions of the desktop computer and are designed for portability. The keyboard, display, and processing unit are all part of one unit, and weigh an average of three to nine pounds, making them easy to transport from site to site. Tablet personal computers range in weight from just over half a pound to just over two pounds (, 2013). Tablet personal computers are available in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on their purpose. For example, many police departments use tablet computers for writing tickets while insurance agents often use other models to sketch details of situations or prepare damage claims in the field. Smart phones are not just phones but are small computers that weigh ounces, yet are both fast and powerful, with a wide and growing range of applications.

Personal computers are prevalent in most businesses. In addition, many medium to large sized business...

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