IS and IT – Information Systems and Information Technology

In this day and age, “IS” (Information Systems) is more important than ever.  Basically, corporate “IS” is the area that includes the company's computers, specialized software programming, and data communications regarding the company’s networking needs. 

Systems analysts design and meet the hardware needs, while programmer’s design and implement software packages such as a database management system (DBMS).  Programmers use several programming languages to build programs such as transaction processing, which provides inventory and sales transactions, Management information systems (MIS), which gives management reporting tools used for organizing, evaluating, and efficiently running their departments, and decision support systems (DSS), which helps managers make difficult decisions and solve problems based on compiled data, documents, personal knowledge, or business models.

The “IT” department (Information Technology) is also sometimes known as “IS.”  In most companies, however, when talking about “IT,” you are referring to the responsibility for implementing, installing, and maintaining the information infrastructure.  They will install and/or repair the computer hardware such as the PC itself, the monitor, keyboard, or mouse.  They will also load the computer software, which drives the computer hardware to perform the tasks like MS Excel, MS Word, or any other applications.  These applications can be anything from inventory tracking to customer record keeping.

“IT” or “IS” also deals with networking, which basically means they make sure information flows from one computer to the next.  The computers can be in the same office, or connected anywhere throughout the world.  The means of communicating information from one place to the next is through data communications media such as CAT 5 cables, fiber-optic cables, microwave transmission, and satellite transmission.  Local Area Networks (LAN) provide access for everyone in the same building through hubs and switches, which in most cases is connected together using CAT 5 cables.  There are also VLAN’s (Virtual LAN), in which people can connect to the company’s network away from the office.  For example, a person using their home computer can connect to the company’s network securely to form a LAN.  Even though they may be hundreds, if not thousands of miles away, they will still be part of the same network as everyone else in the office.  Wide Area Networks (WAN) provides access to the outside world through routers, thus enabling organizations to gain access to global markets.  The Internet makes it possible to connect any computer to virtually any other computer in any part of the world. 

By strategically planning and implementing information systems that optimize the inherent benefits of information technology, the organizations performance is greatly enhanced.  This requires effective leadership and vision, as well as knowledge of both information technology and the organization's business environment.

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