IT Systems & E-Learning #1: Decision support systems for business processes
IT Systems & E-Learning #2: Obtain Information
IT Systems & E-Learning #3: Analyse Information
IT Systems & E-Learning #4: Make Decisions
IT Systems & E-Learning #5: Enterprise Information Systems

Information Systems as decision support systems for business processes

If you worked in an office before, it is very likely that you would have used some kind of information system already. For example, you may have used a PC to send and receive e-mails or calculated your work hours in an Excel spreadsheet.

In fact, there are many different kinds of information systems, so let’s get an accurate classification. It helps if we first understand the difference between information technology and information systems. As information technology (IT) we understand computer hardware & software in general, for example, laptops, servers, networking equipment, operating systems, or word-processing software. An information system (IS) is a particular system that connects IT and business processes for gathering, processing, distributing, and storing information to support business decisions or create knowledge (Laudon & Laudon 2012).

As shown, information systems are built on information technology and form the link to business processes. Together, information technology and information systems transform data into information, which then allows the extraction of knowledge to support decisions about business issues.

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Connection between IT and Business Processes

Example 1:

The CEO of airline company EasyStar needs to assess the marketing strategy for next year’s public holidays in Australia. Essentially, she would like to know which flights have the most passengers on Australian public holidays. She knows that EasyStar has collected data on ticket sales and passenger levels over the last years, which is stored on its data servers. She now requests her analyst team to develop an information system to process this data and return reports with all flights on Australian public holidays over the last 5 years, sorted by revenue from ticket sales and by percentage of empty seats per flight.

Management of Information Systems and Decision Support Systems

Among the different types of information systems, here we are interested in management information systems (MIS) and decision support systems (DSS). MIS are information systems provide periodic, structured reports that provide managers with a high-level view on information about the business, whereas DSS use analytical models on company data to aid managers with non-routine decisions (Laudon & Laudon 2012, Power 2000).

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A cycle of Information Management

A cycle of Information Management

We can think of information management as a cyclic process, as shown in this picture. Gathering information includes activities such as conducting surveys, collecting data from internal and external systems, cleaning datasets, as well as analyzing data for reliability.

During information processing, the objectives for data analysis are defined with respect to required information and the data analyses are performed. The analyses outcomes provide the input to make decisions. Any decisions made, and their implications have to be communicated to relevant stakeholders. Any new data generated as a consequence of a decision can be used as input for gathering information, thereby closing the cycle.

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