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Quynh Tran

Functions of Information Systems (IS) Department

What is Information Systems?

Computers are an essential part of our everyday activities.  We use computers for work, school, and entertainment purposes.  In order to find information for this Internet project, I am sure most of us have used the search engines.  For example, if you Google "Information Systems", you would get a lot of hits on this topic.  The Business Dictionary defined Information Systems as "a combination of hardware, software, infrastructure and trained personnel organized to facilitate planning, control, coordination, and decision making in an organization."

How else is Information Systems defined?  According to Professor Michael Bieber (no relation to Justin Bieber!) of the Information Systems Department at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in the YouTube video to the right, Information Systems (IS) is "a computing application that helps you do something you need to do, especially for a company."  Information systems is an integration and synchronization of people, procedures, data, technology that provide consistent information in an organization.  IS supports the business process routine.  IS connects with data systems and their activities within an organization.  To put it simply, IS assists organization to function smoothly.

As Professor Bieber mentioned, someone has to design, organize and implement the interface system that we all enjoy using in our everyday life.  Information Systems is at the core of every organization as it helps improve the integration and work process within a company.  IS works so well that most of us take it for granted. 

A great majority of everything we do today is online, thus making the field of information systems vital in today's business functions.  Everyone, at different levels in business today uses information systems.  A company can use a database to keep track of which product is their best seller, someone in accounting can use information systems to pay the bills.  Anyone who uses the search engines, or makes a purchase online is using information systems.  Information systems is practically everywhere, in a multitude of things we do.  So where does the information systems department fall in a business organization?

Four Level Pyramid

The picture to the left from Wiki shows the classic progress of an IS major's hierarchy within an organization.  However, there are additional categories of technologies that do not fit in this classic view.  Some of these categories are listed in Wiki, click on the links for additional information on each category:
data warehouses
enterprise resource planning
enterprise systems
expert systems
geographic information system
global information system
office automation

Another portion of information systems that most people are familiar with is management information systems (MIS).  MIS is a business concentration currently taught at SJSU.  According to SJSU, MIS "is about working with people to get them the information they need to do their jobs better/faster smarter."  The business dictionary defines MIS as an "organized approach to the study of the information needs of an organization's management at each level in making operational, tactical, and strategic decisions."  MIS personnel assist businesses to realize the maximum benefit from investment in people, technology, organizations and the relationships among them.  If you like technology and have the aspiration to use technology to improve people's lives, perhaps you should consider a degree in MIS.

Information Systems Managers have become an integral part of an organization and therefore IS is an ideal profession for those who are good with computers.  In today's ever changing world of innovative technology and volatile employment opportunity, job opportunities for IS majors are expected to grow faster than most occupations. 

In order to attain a management role, most organizations prefer that you have a graduate degree (especially an MBA with technology as the primary concentration), but a some will accept a bachelor's degree in a computer related field.

As Professor Bieber pointed out int he video, IS personnel play a vital role in the implementation and administration of technology within an organization.  IS managers are then expected to plan, coordinate, and direct research on computer related activities for their companies.  IS managers administer all technical aspects of an organization.  IS managers plan and coordinate such activities as installing and upgrading hardware and software, programming and system designs, the implementation of computer networks, and the development of Internet and Intranet sites within a company.  IS managers are gradually more involved with the maintenance and security of their company's networks.  It is essential that IS managers stay abreast of today's evolving technology.

As future candidates to the working force, we are interested in the potential wages that majoring in IS would bring us.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean hourly wage of an Information Systems manager is $59.27, with a mean annual wage of over $120K a year.  A degree in Information Systems is definitely something worth pursuing.

Employment (1) Mean hourly
Mean annual
wage (2)
288,660 $59.27 $123,280

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industries with the highest concentration of employment for an Information Systems manager are below:
Industry Employment  % of industry employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Software Publishers 9,560 3.77 $66.87 $139,090
Computer Systems Design and Related Services 52,090 3.62 $64.16 $133,450
Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services 7,950 3.31 $61.56 $128,050
Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing 5,180 3.29 $66.72 $138,790
Monetary Authorities-Central Bank 540 2.78 $63.32 $131,710

The top position for IS majors is Chief Technology Officer (CTO).  Chief Technology Officers are responsible for the evaluation of the newest and most innovative technologies, and determine how they can help their organizations.  There is great potential for IS majors.