Online Bachelor's in Management Information Systems

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What Are Computer Information Systems? An In-Depth Look

In the modern world, the skillful management of computer information systems allows organizations to consistently remain digitally connected to their internal and external stakeholders. The computers used in these networks are often equipped with various types of complex hardware and software. However, this technology can be vulnerable to physical wear and malicious cyber attacks.

Two software developers work on two desktop computers displaying data

Firms often seek graduates of management information systems degree programs to mitigate this problem, as they are taught how to perform regular maintenance on computer systems, as well as how to protect them from digital threats that may compromise important data. Students who are wondering what a computer information system is and want to pursue a career in the field can consider earning an online bachelor’s degree in management information systems from Maryville University.

Overview of Computer Information Systems

So, what is a computer information system? While a computer is an inherently diverse tool, businesses generally use a group of networked computers to collect, organize, store, and transmit information. This network is also known as a computer information system. In the field of computer information systems, professionals work to optimize the application of networked computers in business environments.

To be effective in this effort, these professionals must learn how to improve business processes by implementing a computer information system that can accommodate the specific needs of their organization. For example, if an organization is concerned with the productivity of its employees, IT professionals could use the existing computer information system to track and measure relevant metrics. The data from such a system could then be used to design workplace policies that better promote optimal use of labor hours.

Types of Computer Information Systems

There are several major categories of computer information systems, each with specific characteristics that make them unique. Here’s a look at the seven most commonly used systems.

Transaction Processing Systems

The operations handled by transaction processing systems are usually the straightforward, day-to-day transactions that businesses conduct. These computerized systems perform simple functions and record them. As an example, a transaction processing system would likely be used to control inventory or track payroll.

Office Automation (Enterprise Collaboration) Systems

The primary use of office automation systems is creating, storing, and transmitting data throughout an organization’s network. This simplifies office tasks by keeping team members connected and also provides management personnel with more control over the flow of information within the company. When connected to these systems, users are able to instantly interact with their colleagues using various forms of communication, such as voice, email, videoconferencing, file transfers, or instant text messaging.

Management Information Systems

Businesses that collect large volumes of data rely on management information systems to process that data into usable forms, such as reports and data summaries. These systems are designed to help organizational managers and supervisors make decisions by providing them with information about the various activities that occur within the business.

Decision Support Systems

Decision support systems are advanced computer information systems that help organizational leaders make decisions when the potential outcomes are uncertain. Computer information systems specialists design these systems to perform complex (usually mathematical) tasks, such as executing calculations, modeling data, comparing datasets, and predicting the outcomes of scenarios based on available information.

Executive Information Systems

Executive information systems are specifically designed for use by senior leaders, as they usually compile a vast array of data regarding the internal and external affairs of an organization. An executive information system distills massive amounts of detailed data into structured, comprehensible formats. This helps senior managers stay up to date about the overall status of their organization, allowing them to make informed strategic and tactical decisions.

Expert Systems

Expert systems emulate the decision-making ability of a human by using reasoning to learn facts based on the rules set by the individuals who designed them. These systems are some of the earliest examples of basic artificial intelligence, and business leaders can use them to develop solutions to complex problems, even within specialized professional domains, such as medicine or engineering.

Finance and Accounting Systems

To track their financial data, such as investments, revenue, and tax obligations, organizations may use an accounting information system. These systems can be used to perform financial audits and generate accounting reports. This helps finance specialists and business leaders streamline the processing of compiling or tracking accounting data.

The Various Components of Computer Information Systems

People often wonder, “What is a computer information system and its components?” Computer information systems consist of several primary components: computer hardware, software, telecommunications, databases, human resources, and procedures.

Computer hardware is all of the physical equipment that facilitates the computing processes in an information system. When equipped with the correct software — programs that allow users to control their computers by managing hardware, data, and program files — the systems can be granted the ability to perform specific tasks, such as communicating with other devices. The process of managing communications between hardware devices and their software is a subcategory of computer information systems known as information technology (IT).

Most organizations use IT to store their information in databases. These databases collect that data, organize it, and provide access to retrieve it. Next, the human component consists of the professionals who determine how the organization can effectively use that data. Finally, the process of using, operating, and maintaining these systems is usually guided by an organization’s defined procedures for using its information system. These are generally written or informed by IT professionals or senior leaders who want to protect the data.

Career Outcomes and Salaries

Students and professionals often want to know what a computer information system is and what career options are available in the field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that computer and information systems managers can be IT directors, IT security managers, chief technology officers (CTOs), or chief information officers. Professionals across the United States who work in this occupation earn a median annual salary of $146,360, according to the BLS.

The following careers are also options for individuals looking to work in the field:

Computer Network Architect

Computer network architects design networks for their organizations. They analyze software and hardware, such as routers, to determine what will cause the network to function properly. An important aspect of a computer network architect’s job is to recognize advancements in the field, such as information moving to the cloud. According to May 2020 PayScale data, computer network architects make an annual salary of about $121,300.

Software Developer

Software developers play an integral role in management information systems as they design and test codes, creating new programs and upgrading old ones. They work from the early stages of building a model until the program or app has been fully developed and can be used. According to May 2020 PayScale data, software developers make an annual salary of about $71,300.

Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts are responsible for managing the networks and systems of a company. They work to secure their company’s systems from cyber attacks, identify when there have been breaches in the system, and devise strategies for how to prevent future attacks. According to May 2020 PayScale data, information security analysts make an annual salary of about $72,000.

Trends in Computer Information Systems

To fully understand what computer information systems are, it is important to stay up to date with trends in the industry. Trends in computer information systems change frequently as IT is constantly evolving and changing.

One of the most recent trends is artificial intelligence and the use of machine learning. With this, networks and systems have the ability to improve themselves without having a programmer change anything. Networks have the ability to access, analyze, and data by themselves.

Another trend, which also points to the future of computer information systems, is the growing need for cybersecurity. As more businesses and organizations develop an online presence and more people use the internet, the opportunity for cyber attacks also grows. To protect the information of professionals working across myriad industries, cybersecurity becomes critical.

Industry Benefits and Challenges

Computer information systems have opened many doors in the public and private sectors. By allowing organizations to communicate more effectively, these systems stimulate creative innovation and make collaboration easier than ever before. These systems serve as the foundation for cloud computing, which allows users to store data and use software that is not installed on their own computers but instead hosted on a remote server elsewhere. This allows businesses to immediately boost their efficiency without incurring massive overhead costs.

Computer information systems give businesses a unique ability to customize the way they use technology, allowing them to adapt to market factors in real time. The downside to computer information systems is that they are subject to cyber threats, such as hackers, malware, and viruses. Depending on the size of these systems, maintaining them may also be costly on the macro level. Still, the benefits of using a computer information system are likely to outweigh the costs.

Pursue a Career in Information Systems Management

If a CTO had been asked 25 years ago, “What is a computer information system?” the answer would have primarily been limited to computers that communicate via the internet or intranet. Between then and now, computer information systems have evolved to become impressively complex.

Therefore, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in management information systems can be an ideal way to obtain the level of technical expertise necessary to begin designing, building, and managing such systems professionally. Now that you better understand the intricacies of computer information systems, learn more about how Maryville University’s online bachelor’s degree in management information systems can help you pursue a career in computer information systems.

Recommended Readings
How to Become a Computer Network Architect
How to Become an Information Security Analyst: Steps and Skills
Information Security Analyst vs. Database Administrator: Designing Tomorrow’s Computer Systems

Sources:
CompTIA, “10 Emerging Trends in Information Technology for 2020”
Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Information System” 
Expert System, What Is Machine Learning? A Definition
PayScale, Average Information Security Analyst Salary
PayScale, Average Network Architect Salary
PayScale, Average Software Developer Salary
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer and Information Systems Managers