Roles of IS in Business
The benefits of managing information systems in a business environment have shown to be a moving target but have also been the catalyst for growth and advancement in the ever-expanding realm of information systems. While there are a seemingly endless number of software applications, there are three fundamental reasons for all business applications of information technology. They are found in the three vital roles that information systems can perform for a business enterprise: 1) support of business processes and operations, 2) support of decision making by employees and managers, and 3) support of strategies for competitive advantage (2009, O'Brien & Marakas, p.8).
A further explanation into the three vital roles that IS performs for businesses starts with the support of business processes and operations. Retail stores is a great example of information systems doing all the jobs necessary to help make the business as efficient as possible. This includes the actual checkout as well as keeping track of inventory for future ordering. It also can include buying preferences among customers as well as tracking customer purchases for promotions or special deals. These systems also keep track of scheduling and paying employees and all the human resources issues such as paid time off and sick leave to name just a couple.
The second vital role that IS performs for businesses is in the area of support for decision making. There are systems that will help employees grade incoming support calls and later tabulate results in order to understand what methods of improvement can be applied to employee training. There is also systems that help teams become more innovative. Innovation software helps innovation workers overcome the challenge of psychological inertia – the myopic thinking that comes from being overly influenced by historical behavior or trends that prevents us from considering the broadest scope of alternatives. Innovation software also helps communicate market requirements and product design capabilities across disparate communities, understand how to prioritize and leveraging knowledge and existing resources, and accelerates creative problem solving.
The third vital role that IS performs for businesses is the support of strategies for competitive advantage. CRM (Customer Relationship Software) is a good example of a system that helps keep track of clients and tailor to their needs. CRM systems help manage and track customer or potential customers. It is a business technology mainly used by sales teams and the people involved in managing sales teams. Areas of involvement include opportunity tracking, lead generation, email integration with the current workflow process, automation of the workflow, collaboration, and reporting. Also systems in the support of project management lend information that helps make decisions on project directions.
ERP (Electronic Resource Planning
"The mid- to late 1990s saw the revolutionary emergence of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. This organization-specific form of a strategic information system integrates all facets of a firm, including its planning, manufacturing, sales, resource management, customer relations, inventory control, order tracking, financial management, human resources, and marketing—virtually every business function" (2009, O'Brien & Marakas, p.11). ERP is a system that has the ability to look across a company's organizational functions and bring together the processes and information that help decision making and provides for higher levels of data sharing and collaboration.
Orange County Digital Arts case study
The researcher is the president of Orange County Digital Arts and has begun using a cloud-based system called Zoho in order to collaborate, share and manage projects that spawn within the organization. Cloud based computing is a term that refers to applications, services or resources that are made available to users over the internet. Cloud-based computing is used by companies in order to save money on expanding infrastructure and the support of said systems. It also provides an easy route for growth in capacity and enhanced functionality without development and support costs.
The benefits of managing information systems in a business environment have changed over the years mainly because the focus itself has changed. We, as an economy of business, have gone from systems that dealt mainly in data processing and watched these systems forge into management reporting, decision support systems, strategic and end-user support, electronic business and e-commerce, and finally reach a current day plateau of enterprise resource planning and business intelligence.
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O'Brien, J.A. & Marakas, G.M. (2009). Management Information Systems. McGraw-Hill Irwin. 9th ed.