Information Systems Control Research Paper Starter

Information Systems Control

Virtually every aspect of business is conducted using information technology systems. In light of the vital nature of these systems, it is equally critical for those who utilize them to have at hand a department or group dedicated to maintaining those systems. It is understandable that information systems control is an increasingly popular and highly-demanded field. This paper will take a look at information systems control, its development and its role in the 21st century global business environment.

Keywords: Chief Information Officer (CIO); Computer Virus; Firewall; Hackers; Linkage; Risk Management; Security Systems; Strategic Business Plan; Systems Control

Overview

Nathaniel Borenstein is considered by many to be an electronic mail pioneer. His work on multimedia formatting for e-mail laid the groundwork for how this widespread form of communication is conducted. Borenstein understood that the work he and his peers had done in computers had global implications, at once facilitating nearly instant communications with people in every corner of the world. Yet, he recognized the potentially widespread disaster for those who relied on that form of communication when those systems failed. "The most likely way for the world to be destroyed," he said, "is by accident," adding glibly, "That's where we come in — we're computer professionals. We cause accidents" (Anecdotage.com).

Indeed, information systems are the lifeblood of any successful business, government or organization. Virtually extinct are cardboard visual aids and overhead projection slides, replaced with multimedia presentations flowing directly from laptop computers, tablets, and/or smartphones. Mass bulk mailings are slowly disappearing in favor of much faster and more efficient mass e-mailings for advertising or information dissemination. Major business meetings are attended from an individual's desk via "webinars," conference calls and podcasts.

Virtually every aspect of business is conducted using information technology systems. In light of the vital nature of these systems, it is equally critical for those who utilize them to have at hand a department or group dedicated to maintaining those systems. It is understandable that information systems control is an increasingly popular and highly-demanded field. This paper will take a look at information systems control, its development and its role in the 21st century global business environment.

A Brief History of Information Systems

From the monstrous machines of the 1950s and 1960s to the handheld cellular telephone, computers have consistently served two general purposes:

  • Data collection and storage, and
  • Facilitating access to and use of that data.

In the late 1960s, however, an important U.S. Department of Defense project added a new dimension to computer technology. The Pentagon's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) developed a system whereby computers could share that data with one another. The purpose of "ARPANET", as it was known, was reflective of the realities and dangers of the Cold War — military computers in sites around the country could transfer data to and from each other in the event of a devastating nuclear attack (Howe, 2009).

During the 1960s, computers were enormous and extremely user-unfriendly. For this reason, the government and universities were predominantly the only users of such systems, although a handful of the nation's largest corporations also developed computer technologies. Over time, it became clear that the sharing of information between military computers and universities was not the only application for such systems. Scientists also used the precursors to the Internet for information exchanges, a practice espoused by the government which had created and continuously funded it through the 1980s.

In the 1990s, the number of networks continued to grow, and systems were introduced which made the Internet more user-friendly to those outside of research, academic or government engineering circles. The government's backbone (which connected all of these networks) was prohibited for commercial use, a barrier that was short-lived. In 1992, the birth of the Delphi commercial online service created a system that enabled non-government users to circumvent the government's backbone. The government ceased its funding for its own backbone in the mid-1990s, and commercial networks became the sole avenue for information. The door was open for widespread Internet use complemented by the exponential growth of personal computer use during the 1980s and 1990s. By the end of the 1990s, e-mail and Internet use was as commonplace in business as the telephone.

Further Insights

The Stewards of Information Systems

As businesses increasingly used the growing volume of information systems available, another industry was born. Information and computer systems management has seen rapid growth since such systems came to use in business. Computer and information systems managers control not only the hardware and software use and operations of a firm; they play an integral role in the decisions to use such systems for the betterment of the company. Because the field of information systems control and management has such extensive implications for any business, there is a diverse group of employment positions that are included in the area.

Typically, at the top of the information systems control hierarchy is the Chief Information Officer (CIO). The CIO is charged with formulating and implementing the technical direction of the company or organization. Because information systems are so heavily interconnected with nearly every aspect of the business's operations and endeavors, the CIO will typically have access to every aspect of the company in order to ensure that that technology is properly utilized to the fullest extent possible. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009), the CIO is also expected to build an information technology and systems team that will satisfy the technological goals and needs of the organization. The CIO is usually part of a company's overall executive team, working with the Chief Executive Officer/President, Chief Financial Officer and other top management officials.

Reporting directly to the CIO are the computer and information systems (IS) managers. These individuals carry out the policies and directives of the executive teams. In this implementation role, IS managers will introduce, maintain, assess and where necessary, replace systems to meet the needs of both the office as a whole and of specific projects. These personnel will work closely with employees, vendors and information systems analysts and programmers as they carry out IS policies (O*Net Online, 2009). In the event that issues arise relevant to the efficacy of programs, IS managers will report those issues to the CIO and the executive team officials.

Other team members are the computer programmers and information technology professionals. These individuals are charged with implementing the tasks handed to them by IS managers and their superiors. They may be called into project teams to meet the specific needs of a given proposal or program. Others may be charged with managing the maintenance needs of the office, installing or removing software, trouble-shooting system issues and entering personnel into company directories.

Information technology employees have...

(The entire section is 3290 words.)