Almost every business uses information systems, from social networking companies to government agencies. But what is an information system? An information system is an organizational system used to collect, process, and store information. Read on to learn more about them, how you can use them, and what information systems courses to take.
What Are Information Systems?
An information system, also referred to as an IS, is a formal system developed to collect, process, store, and distribute information. Information systems comprise people, processes, and information technology. This combination is used to carry out business processes to fulfill an objective.
Information systems are used in all kinds of businesses. Some of the fields that use IS include accounting, marketing, finance, and even human resources. All these professional areas incorporate information systems in some way to improve their work.
Those involved in creating information systems describe their profession as working with people and processes. People in these roles oversee the programmers who design the system, but do not program it themselves.
What Are Information Systems Used For?
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Information systems are used to organize and analyze data. They are crucial in many industries. The IS takes data and turns it into useful information, which can be used to make critical decisions. Information systems are designed to make work easier.
Below are a couple of situations in which IS are commonly used.
- At hospitals. When you check in at a hospital, your information goes into an information system. This specific type of IS will typically support administrative reports and insurance processing.
- When shopping. When you purchase an item from Amazon, your information will go into its customer relationship management system. Amazon’s IS is designed to be user-centered so that the company can focus on customers’ needs. Along with this system, Amazon also uses an IS to create descriptive reports for administrators.
Types of Information Systems
There are six significant information systems types. They are for transaction processing, office automation, knowledge work, management information, decision support, and executive support. Each of these refers to a different level within an organization.
This may seem like a lot to comprehend, so let’s break down each of these IS further.
Transaction Processing System (TPS)
The TPS is used on an operational level. This system processes transactions to help businesses perform daily operations. This process will differ slightly based on industry. It might include placing an order online, confirming receipt of goods, or a physical transaction, such as a customer checking out at a grocery store.
Office Automation System (OAS)
An OAS refers to the movement of information without the need for human intervention. This IS gathers information from communication between personal computers, or between people performing tasks. OAS activities include printing, emailing, and scheduling meetings.
Knowledge Work System (KWS)
A KWS is a specialized system used to ensure that knowledge and technical information are being integrated into a business. An example of KWS is how computer systems are used to design virtual reality programs.
Management Information System (MIS)
MIS refers to how data is used at the management level. This process helps middle managers make decisions by extracting data and compiling reports.
Decision Support System (DSS)
DSS is also at the management level of IS. A DSS processes information for use by higher managers. A DSS is designed to help a manager execute specific tasks. This system will allow the manager to analyze changing trends in the market before making critical decisions.
Executive Support System (ESS)
ESS is at the strategic level of business operations. ESS supports decision-making at the highest level. These decisions will affect the entire organization, so a strong ESS is essential. A typical ESS will monitor the company’s performance, track competitors’ activities, and forecast trends.
Learning Information Systems
Learning information systems requires that you have a formal education and hands-on experience. If you have a passion for IS, there are a few ways you can go about improving your understanding of the topic, including through books, online resources, and in-person classes. In this section, we’ll explore a few of these ways.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Information Systems?
On average, it will take four years to learn information systems. Completing a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems is a typical prerequisite for most jobs in this profession.
When earning your bachelor’s in computer information systems, you will take a combination of business and computer classes. There are several paths you can take to get your degree in this field.
You can pursue an online degree if you prefer to have a more flexible class schedule. Another option is to attend an accelerated online program, which will enable you to receive your degree in less than four years. You might also consider completing a combined degree, in which you earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree at the same time.
After earning your degree in this field, you may decide to complete a master’s in the same area to explore information systems in-depth and further your skillset. After that, you can consider whether a PhD is of interest to you.
How to Learn Information Systems: A Step-by-Step Guide
Learning information systems is an easy process when broken down step by step. However, you must put in a lot of hard work at every stage.
- Start early. Like other professions, it is always a good idea to start pursuing your career goals as soon as possible. If you know you are interested in IS while in high school, you can tailor your course load accordingly.
- Earn a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in information systems, computer science, or computer information systems is generally required for candidates interested in any IS role.
- Pursue a master’s degree. This step is entirely optional. However, according to Noodle, a master’s degree will open the door to higher-paying opportunities.
- Gain experience through internships. While completing your IS degree, you should also look for computer science internships that will allow you to gain real-world experience.
- Apply for jobs. Begin by applying to entry-level IS positions. Some jobs you can apply for once you have an IS degree include data analyst, data scientist, systems analyst, IT consultant, and software engineer.
The Best Information Systems Courses and Training
There are a few different ways you can attend information systems classes, including in-person, online, and in hybrid formats. With all of these learning styles and many free courses, you will undoubtedly be able to find an IS course that is perfect for you.
In-Person Information Systems Classes
In-person IS classes are the best option if you’re open to a traditional classroom experience and are able to make the necessary time commitment. Find some great in-person IS education options below.
- Provider: Villanova
- Length: Varies
- Prerequisites: Varies
- Price: Varies
Villanova’s Information Systems and Technology Certificate will prepare you to excel in today’s information age. The certificate requires that you choose between two different tracks. Each track consists of four required courses.
- Provider: New Horizons
- Length: Varies
- Prerequisites: Varies
- Price: Varies
New Horizons offers a variety of IS training options in different locations. Check their website to find the IT training course that’s closest to you.
Online Information Systems Courses
If you want to learn information systems from the comfort of your own home, then an online course is for you. Online classes allow you to study on your own schedule while still getting a quality education.
- Provider: University of Minnesota (Coursera)
- Length: About five months
- Prerequisites: Beginner-level IS knowledge
- Price: Varies
Learn the fundamentals of information system management in this specialization offered through the University of Minnesota. The class consists of four courses and is taught by IS experts from the university.
- Provider: Indiana University (edX)
- Length: Nine months
- Prerequisites: Graduate level
- Price: $1,347.30
Explore IS from a CEO’s perspective in these three graduate-level courses offered via Indiana University. Topics covered include how to leverage cloud computing technologies and how to structure and manage data systems to support a business.
Free Information Systems Courses
Free classes are the best option if you are just starting to learn about information systems. They will give you an idea of what it would be like to study for an IS major in college.
- Provider: Modern States
- Length: Four weeks
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Free
Taught by SUNY-Potsdam professor Gregory Garnder, this free IS class is an introductory college-level course. It covers knowledge, terminology, and basic concepts of IS. It is suggested that you commit six hours per week to study.
- Provider: Alison
- Length: Self-paced
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Free
Alison offers a variety of self-paced free information systems classes. You can choose from several different levels and course certifications.
Information Systems Books
Books are an excellent resource for learning just about anything. Explore a few titles on IS below.
Management Information Systems: Managing the Digital Firm, Kenneth C. Laudon
This latest edition of Management Information Systems, released in 2011, explores the significant recent changes in information technology.
Fundamentals of Information Systems 7th Edition, Ralph Stair
The Fundamentals of Information Systems, 7th Edition, defines the core principles of information systems and examines how they are used today.
Information Systems Certifications
Take your IS career to the next level by earning a certification. There are plenty of certificates that apply to IS. See our list of some of the best ones below.
This certification was created to ensure competency in IS. Data scientists often specialize in IS.
The CISSP certification is an independent information security accreditation. It’s considered the gold standard of security certifications. It was created to ensure that network security professionals have the necessary knowledge to create successful systems.
This is a technical certification offered through tech giant Cisco. It also provides a variety of other certifications in data and security that would be of interest to any IT professional.
Online Information Systems Resources
If you run into a roadblock while you’re learning IS, there are many online resources you can turn to for help. Below are a few of the best ones.
Pluralsight offers classes and assistance to those wanting to learn information systems.
Cloud Academy provides courses, learning paths, and labs for professionals or students interested in IS.
Should You Study Information Systems?
If you have a passion for IS, then you should start studying now. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people involved in information systems make around $146,000 annually, and the job outlook is projected to increase by ten percent over the next decade.
With companies in a broad range of industries relying on IS to help their operations run smoothly, you can rest assured that your studies in information systems will be put to good use.
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