Information can be regarded as the solution of uncertainty; it resolves the question of who or what an entity is and so defines both the internal nature and its attributes. However, the notion of information has various meanings in diverse contexts. In business, information is used to improve the quality of performance and as a tool for decision making. In political affairs, information is used to gain an advantage in negotiations and in the conduct of war. Information is also essential in order to make sense of astronomical quantities like the Sun’s movement or the behavior of subatomic particles. In medicine, information is used as a diagnostic tool to treat disease and injuries.
The field of business information systems is a constantly evolving discipline that takes information technology and the associated management science into account. Business information systems specialists are continuously at work, seeking better methods and means of organization and management of complex information systems. This field combines traditional computer science with knowledge of economics, accounting, risk analysis, information communications and business decision-making.
One branch of this field is known as information systems management and these studies the design, development and implementation of business information systems. In addition to this, it also takes into account stakeholder involvement. In other words, it considers how users are able to contribute to the design of an information system and how stakeholder groups can play a role in such a system. Such stakeholder groups may include customers, employees, suppliers and other entities.
Today’s business environment sees a rapid expansion of business functions, which requires large amounts of data. Managing and organizing this information system, however, becomes quite a challenge, requiring information systems specialists who have a wide range of skill sets. For example, in a retail store, efficient business information systems will ensure that products are displayed in an attractive manner and prices are charged according to consumers’ needs.
A successful information system should be capable of gathering and transmitting the following information: accurate and complete product/ supplier information, accurate customer information, accurate service information, comprehensive employee information, employee training information, and efficient finance systems. However, how does one define “effective information”? In an organization where interdepartmental communication, training and distribution are poor and/or hindered, effective information literacy and decision-making are difficult to achieve. In such a situation, the success of any information system depends on how well it can integrate and disseminate the data it contains.
Another area that calls for the use of effective information sources is that of business decision-making. Today, people are engaged more in “thinking on their feet” than on their knees. This means that they do not always seek information from people who are more senior than them. It also means that, as much as possible, people are less likely to blindly follow a solitary lead when they know that more experts are available. Hence, organizations have to make use of various other sources of advice and information, as well, so that they can develop and strengthen their ability to make informed decisions.