Five Question Blitz: Information Systems

January 28, 2021

In this weeks Five Question Blitz we focus on Information Systems. Information Systems are the core mechanism by which data is processed and transformed into information that empowers decision makers throughout an organization.

The Five Question Blitz was created to answer five questions relevant to Data & Analytics. Topics will be broad and answers will be simplified. Our goal is to promote common definitions and increase the general knowledge of individuals with interest in Data & Analytics.

What is an information system?

An Information System is a collection of components (i.e. production systems, transactional databases, analytical databases, business intelligence tools, governance systems, etc.) that are carefully architected into a method for connecting users with information.

What purpose does an information system serve?

Information Systems serve the purpose of connecting users with information. Engaging with information systems is a common part of most people’s lives. Whenever you use a search engine to query results or browse your favorite merchants inventory; the outputs you interact with are generated from information systems.

How does a business benefit from an information system?

Keeping focus on Data & Analytics, there are two common terms associated with Information Systems; MIS (management information system) and EIS (executive information system). Each of these maintain the core definition of an Information System but MIS has an end goal of overall decision support versus EIS focusing on the executive members of an organization.

It is critical for any organization to make decisions supported by factual information. Properly designed and maintained analytic Information Systems maintain the core principles of Data & Analytics, abide to proper data storage, and require the highest in data quality. This creates a foundation supported by strong pillars enabling analysis, modeling, segmentation, forecasting, predictive analytics, data visualization, reporting, and storytelling.

What is the role of an information system?

Again, keeping the focus on Data & Analytics, Information Systems play the part of a factory. Raw materials come in and a series of products are produced. Materials pass through each step of the process expanding the value of the initial raw materials.

In the case of an Information System, data from multiple sources resembles the raw materials. As the process begins data must be transformed to meet quality standards and formatting requirements to support the information goals of the organization. Through the analytic process data transitions into information. Decision makers now have access to intelligence at all levels of an organization. This includes low level production specific details up through highly summarized and dimensioned information specifically tuned in alignment with KPI's and strategic initiatives.

What are common issues with information systems?

Below are five issues that commonly plague Information Systems at many organizations.

1) Data Quality – Data serves as the foundation for any Information System. If the foundation has cracks then the entire structure is at risk.

2) System design – There are a large number of services available to assist organizations in constructing their Information Systems. The challenge is choosing systems that are complimentary and compatible. Far too often organizations use a combination of systems that introduce confusion and points of failure.

3) Legacy components – Organizations both young and old have systems and/or processes that have changed substantially over a period of time. When experiencing such growth organizations don’t always account for these old systems and as a result create inconsistencies in their Information System. Typically this results in incomplete information or altogether missing information requiring users to take extra steps and degrading end user confidence.

4) Poor definitions – Closely aligned with data quality is definitions. Common definitions are a requirement for any organization to ensure proper interpretation. Very often siloed groups across an organization apply varying definitions to metrics which result in conflicting information shared with decision makers.

5) Lack of leadership support – Creating a high quality and accurate Information System takes time and many resources. An organizations leadership must understand and accept these conditions. Anything less will result in an incomplete and inaccurate Information System that creates more challenges and burns more time resources.

Click here to read last weeks article, Five Question Blitz: Data Quality.

Here are some websites for reference:

Wikipedia - Information System

Wikipedia - Management Information System

Wikipedia - Executive Information System

About the Author: My name is Ion King and I am the Chief Executive Officer at SimDnA. My focus is on helping others passionate about growing careers in Data Science & Analytics achieve their goals. Connect with me on LinkedIn or find more of my articles on medium

Header image by Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

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