Chapter 1 Managing the Digital Firm
1.2 Perspectives on Information Systems
What Is an Information System?
Too often you hear someone say, "Oh yeah, I know how to use a computer. I can surf the Web with the best of them and I can play Solitaire for hours. I'm really good at computers." Okay. So that person can pound a keyboard, use a mouse at lightning speed, and has a list of favorite Web sites a mile long. But the real question is: "Is that person information literate?" Just because you can pound the keyboard doesn't necessarily mean you can leverage the technology to your advantage or to the advantage of your organization. An organization can gather and keep all the data on its customers that a hard drive can hold. You can get all the output reports that one desk can physically hold. You can have the fastest Internet connection created to date. But if the organization doesn't take advantage of customer data to create new opportunities, then all it has is useless information. If the output report doesn't tell management that it has a serious problem on the factory floor, then all that's been accomplished is to kill a few more trees. If you don't know how to analyze the information from a Web site to take advantage of new sales leads, then what have you really done for yourself today? Most of us think only of hardware and software when we think of an information system. There is another component of the triangle that should be considered, and that's the people side or "persware". Think of it this way: [pic]
In this section of the text, Laudon & Laudon discuss the components of an information system. They talk about the input, processing, output, and feedback processes. Most important is the feedback process; unfortunately, it's the one most often overlooked. The hardware (input and output) and the software (processing) receive the most attention. With those two alone, you have computer literacy. But if you don't use the "persware" side of the triangle to complete the feedback loop, you don't accomplish much. Add the "persware" angle with good feedback and you have the beginnings of information literacy. You also create formal systems structured to collect, store, process, disseminate, and use data in well-designed and well-built computer-based information systems (CBIS). |The Window on Technology: UPS Comptes Globally With Information Technology (see p. 17 of the textbook) describes how UPS is | |using information technology to compete in a global economy. Analyze the four components of UPS's information system: input, | |output, processing, and feedback. |
It Isn't Just Technology: A Business Perspective on Information Systems
Using feedback completes the information processing loop. To be a good information systems manager, however, you must bring into that loop far more than just computer data. For instance, your information system reports that you produced 100,000 widgets last week with a "throwback" rate of 10 percent. The feedback loop tells you that the throwback rate has fallen 2 percent in the last month. Wow, you say, that's a pretty good improvement. So far, so good. But if you put that information into the broader context of the organization, you're still costing the organization a huge sum of money because each percentage point on the throwback rate averages $10,000. And when you bring in available external environmental information, your company is 5 percent above the industry norm. Now that's information you can use — to your advantage or disadvantage! There is a distinct difference between possessing information systems literacy and simple computer literacy. If you, as a manager, can combine information from internal sources and external environments, if you can be part of the solution and not part of the problem, you can consider yourself "information literate."
Dimensions of Information...
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