What is an information system

Information system

(engl. information system) Information systems are understood as systems that process information, i. H. capture, transmit, transform, store and provide. The operational information systems considered here are socio-technical systems that comprise human and machine components (subsystems) as task carriers that are interdependent, interlocking and / or interacting. Since operational processes require coordination between those responsible for the division of labor, communication (an exchange of information between systems or system elements) is an essential aspect, which is why the term information system is understood as a synonym for information and communication system. Information systems are mostly open because they interact with their environment, dynamic because parts of the information system can change as a result of these interactions, and complex because, on the one hand, they consist of a large number of elements and, on the other hand, they are interrelated in a variety of ways. Information systems in business and administration represent the central object of investigation in business informatics. The fundamental objective pursued with the development and use of information systems is to effectively support the fulfillment of operational tasks by means of an appropriate information technology mapping and (partial) automation of certain processes. This is closely related to the efficient satisfaction of the information demand of operational tasks or decision-makers (information management). Since a complete coverage of the functional requirements of a company i. d. As a rule, if a monolithic system is not possible and practical, there are many integration tasks. Both the various phases of the service creation process and the operational hierarchy levels are to be linked in terms of information technology (both within and outside the company, if applicable). This relates in particular to a logical integration of data, functions and processes, taking into account both technical and organizational aspects. In this context, information systems can be structured and classified from two primary perspectives: horizontally with regard to the operational functional area under consideration and vertically with regard to the type of supported tasks. This is illustrated schematically in the figure below using the classic information system pyramid. Administration and disposition systems are used to map and process operational processes in terms of quantity and value (typically at the operational level). Building on this, planning and control systems support management through appropriate analytical functionalities with the objective of decision support (p decision support system). Cross-sectional systems represent systems that are independent of a specific classification in certain company areas or hierarchical levels and, if necessary, are used in connection with other systems (e.g. document management systems and workflow management systems).

An application system is understood to be the software used in an information system for a specific field of activity. The basis or integral part of corresponding operational application systems are i. d. R. database systems. Application systems that can be used company-wide with a broad and integrated coverage of various functions (e.g. sales, production, accounting) are also referred to by the term ERP system (Enterprise Resource Planning). The practice here is characterized by an increasing dominance of business standard software (compared to individual development). Corresponding standard application software is in part industry-specific, i d. Usually, however, the task of adapting to specific operational conditions (customizing) arises. Due to the growing use of global communication networks (such as the Internet) with the simultaneous use of compatible technology in company networks (intranet), external information systems are becoming increasingly important. In this context, against the background of a strived for increased inter-company coordination (supply chain management, virtual company), tasks of loosely coupling information systems from different companies arise. Effective information technology integration is therefore a central requirement for the implementation of corresponding visions of e-commerce or e-business.

The information system comprises the organizational and technical facilities as well as the people working in them with the task of bringing the information supply and demand to congruence. The information system forms part of the entire corporate communication system. There are various starting points for fulfilling the above task, on the one hand with the individual steps of the information process and on the other hand with the information carriers. The information systems can be systematized according to various criteria. According to the criterion of communication between computer and user, Szyperski differentiates between generator-active, user-active, and generator and user-active information systems . User-active information systems include information or query systems as pure information recovery systems and those combined with evaluation procedures. The last group identifies the so-called dialogue systems to which the future belongs. The criterion of the degree of integration of the information system in a higher-level management system leads to a distinction between general reporting and information systems and special management information systems (MIS). In the latter case, the information provided flows directly and specifically into the management process and forms the basis for decisions. This type of information system is based i. d. Usually on a computer support. They are therefore also called computer-aided management information systems (CIS). The design of such a CIS will largely depend on the hardware, software and database that are available. The problem with CIS, however, lies less in the technology of the systems than in an excessive flood of inadequately prepared and condensed information (creation of so-called cemeteries of numbers).

In the company, this includes the human actors (e.g. sender, recipient, decision-maker) and the entirety of all formalized information processes, i.e. the network of all systematically ordered and regulated internal and external information relationships, as well as technical and organizational facilities for information procurement, information storage, information processing and information transfer, as far as they serve the goal of fulfilling information tasks in the company. Information systems are usually computer-aided (computer-aided information systems).
They fulfill the following functions:
• the systematic, concentrated and efficient procurement, preparation or processing and targeted transmission of information as input for decision-making processes in order to guarantee the goal-oriented management of the company. The improvement of the level of information of the decision-makers and the timely supply of decision-relevant information to the responsible authorities must be achieved in an economically justifiable manner.
• Carrying out target / actual comparisons in order to highlight discrepancies and clarify problems. Information systems are often related to basic operational functions and classified accordingly. After that there are z. B.
• Procurement information systems,
• warehouse information systems,
• Marketing information systems and
• Personnel information systems.

The following requirements are placed on information systems:
(1) In order to make the flood of information generated in the company usable for the decision-makers, an appropriate compression and summary is required so that this can be accepted by the responsible decision-makers at all levels of the company hierarchy and recognized as relevant (avoidance of cemeteries of numbers!) .
(2) The information system must be user-friendly (simple programming and query languages, short access and processing times, transparency of the instruments used, positive human / machine communication) in order to be widely accepted.
(3) The information system should be flexible so that changes in the company (e.g. in the information processes, the organization, etc.) or in its environment can be traced and managed by the information system.
(4) The information system as a subsystem of the management system must be able to be appropriately integrated into the existing organization of the company for reasons of task delimitation and fulfillment.
(5) The information made available by the information system should be relevant, of high quality, up-to-date, meaningful, clear, understandable, reliable and sufficiently precise. It should be noted, however, that some of the requirements mentioned above are in a conflicting relationship (e.g. accuracy and timeliness). Fulfilling these requirements is one of the tasks of an operational information management.

Human-computer system (socio-technical system), which consists of human and technical components. The task of an information system is the optimal provision of information in an economically sensible way. Information systems provide users with all the information they need to complete their tasks in the company. Application systems are part of computerized information systems.

The information system describes a systematically ordered network of informational relationships that is created between people (users), information processing machines, data and methods in order to satisfy the information needs of those involved in the company organization. The term management information system is also often used.

The information system represents the entirety of all systematic internal and external information connections as well as their technical and organizational facilities for information acquisition and processing. The task of the information system is to provide decision-makers with decision-relevant information in good time.

Previous technical term: information synthesis | Next technical term: information systems, development

Report this article to the editors as incorrect & mark it for editing