Management Information Systems

Glossary of Terms

The following information technology terms focus on information systems from a non-technical business/organizational perspective.

artificial intelligence (AI)
science and technology to develop computers that can think and function in ways normally associated with human intelligence, including reasoning, inference, learning and problem solving
automatic teller machine (ATM)
a special-purpose transaction terminal used to provide remote banking services
the replacement of human workers by machines; the automatic transfer and positioning of work by machines, or the automatic operation and control of a work process by machines, without significant human intervention or operation, in order to improve performance
business information system
information system within a business organization that supports one of the traditional functions of business such as marketing, finance or production
business process reengineering (BPR)
the reinventing of processes within a business; the use of information technology to bring about major changes and cost savings in an organization's structure
business to business (B2B)
transactions between two businesses, or companies whose customers are primarily other businesses
chargeback system
methods of allocating costs to end user departments based on the information services rendered and information system resources utilized
chief information officer (CIO)
a senior strategic-level management position that oversees all information technology systems and personnel for a firm, concentrating on long-range information system planning and strategy
competitive advantage
providing a product or service in a way that customers value more than the competition's
competitive strategies
strategies used by a firm to confront its competitive forces, such as cost leadership, product differentiation and business innovation
computer-aided software engineering (CASE) tools
software that automates some or all steps in the systems development life cycle
moving from old system to new system. Plunge or direct cutover conversion immediately replaces the old system with the new one. Parallel conversion uses both until the new system performs correctly. Pilot or piecemeal conversion starts with a small group or region. Phased conversion introduces the new system in stages.
cost-benefit analysis
identifying the advantages or benefits and the disadvantages or costs of a proposed solution
critical success factors
factors critical to organizational success; the process of evaluating prospective IT systems by comparing system costs with system benefits; a small number of key factors that executives consider critical to the success of the enterprise, where successful performance will assure the success of the organization and attainment of its goals
unprocessed, unorganized information; raw facts or observations
a collection of data or information stored in an organized way; a computer database is a file that contains tables whose rows are records and whose columns are fields. The database comes with software for data entry, queries and reports; tables in a relational database are related by common fields
database management approach
an approach to the storage and processing of data in which independent files are consolidated into a common pool or database of records available to different application programs and end users for processing and data retrieval
database management system (DBMS)
a set of computer programs that controls the creation, maintenance and utilization of the databases of an organization
data mining
use of software tools to query information in a data warehouse
data warehouse
a logical collection of information, gathered from many different operational databases, that supports business analysis activities and decision-making tasks
decision support system (DSS)
a highly flexible and interactive IT system designed to support decision making when the problem is not structured; an information system that utilizes decision models, a database, and a decision maker's own insights in an ad hoc, interactive analytical modeling process to reach a specific decision by a specific decision maker
demand aggregation
combines purchase requests from multiple buyers into a single large order which justifies a discount from the business
digital divide
differences in information technology access and capabilities in different countries or regions of the world
by using the Internet as a delivery vehicle, intermediate players in a distribution channel can be bypassed
distribution chain
the path followed from the originator of a product or service to the end consumer
domain expert
the person who provides the domain expertise in the form of problem-solving strategies
economic feasibility
whether expected cost saving, increased revenue, increased profits and reductions in required investment exceed the costs of developing and operating a proposed system
electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP)
send bills over the Internet and provide an easy way to pay them if the amount looks correct
electronic business
use of information technology for internal organizational management and communication
electronic cash or digital cash
an electronic representation of cash
electronic commerce
buying and selling goods and services electronically; commerce accelerated and enhanced by information technology, especially the Internet, enabling customers, consumers and companies to form powerful new relationships that would not be possible without the enabling technologies
electronic data interchange (EDI)
exchange of business transaction documents between computers of two organisations; the electronic transmission of source documents between the computers of different organizations; direct computer-to-computer transfer of transaction information contained in standard business document such as invoices and purchase orders in a standard format
electronic funds transfer
the development of banking and payment systems that transfer funds electronically instead of using cash or paper documents such as checks
electronic market
exchange of information, products, services and payments using Internet, networks and digital technologies, e.g. prices, purchase orders, invoices, shipping notices
emerging technology
a new technology not yet fully exploited by businesses
enterprise analysis
a planning process that analyzes organizational information requirements and emphasizes how computer-based information systems will improve the performance and competitive position of a business enterprise, including planning how information systems can support the basic business processes, functions and organizational units of an organization
enterprise network
hardware, software and media connecting information technology resources of an organization
enterprise resource planning (ERP)
coordinated planning of all an organization's resources involved in production, development, selling and servicing of goods and services
enterprise software
a software suite with common business applications, tools for modeling how the entire organization works, and development tools for building applications unique to the organization
executive information system (EIS)
an information system that provides strategic information tailored to the needs of top management; a highly interactive management information system combined with decision support systems and artificial intelligence for helping managers identify and address problems and opportunities
executive support system (ESS)
an executive information system with additional capabilities, including data analysis, decision support, electronic mail, and personal productivity tools
expert system
an artificial intelligence system that applies reasoning capabilities to reach a conclusion; a program that works with knowledge and relies on a database of if-then rules to draw inferences, in much the way a human expert does
an intranet that is restricted to an organization and certain outsiders, such as customers and suppliers
feasibility study or review
whether a proposed system can be implemented and meet requirements; a preliminary study that investigates the information needs of end users and the objectives, constraints, basic resource requirements, cost/benefits, and feasibility of proposed projects
financial information system
information system that supports financial managers in the financing of a business and the allocation and control of financial resources; includes cash and securities management, capital budgeting, financial forecasting, and financial planning
special security software to protect private networks such as intranets and extranets
geographic information system (GIS)
a decision support system designed specifically to work with spatial information
global reach
the ability of an organization to extend its reach to customers anywhere there is an Internet connection, and at a much lower cost
the expansion of international business and trade between countries by transnational firms; customers, suppliers, distributors, retailers and competitors exist all over the world for any type of business
group decision support system (GDSS)
a decision support system which provides support for problem formulation and solution and decision making by groups or teams of people
groupware or workgroup support system
communications software that supports collaborative efforts of a team
hierarchical data structure
a logical data structure in which the relationships between records form a hierarchy or tree structure; the relationships among records are one-to-many, since each data element is related only to one element above it
data with meaning in a particular context
information architecture
a conceptual framework that defines the basic structure, content and relationships of the organizational databases that provide the data needed to support the basic business processes of an organization
information system (IS)
a set of people, procedures and resources that collects, transforms and disseminates information in an organization; a system that accepts data resources as input and processes them into information products as output; a system that uses the resources of hardware, software and people to perform input, processing, output, storage and control activities that transform data resources into information products; a purposefully designed system that brings data, computers, procedures, and people together to manage information important to an organization's mission
information technology (IT)
hardware, software, telecommunications, database management, and other information processing technologies used in computer-based information systems; computer-based tools used to work with information and support the information needs of an organization
Internet service provider (ISP)
organization with a direct Internet connection which sells Internet connections to organizations and individuals
an internal organizational Internet that is guarded against outside access by a firewall; a private version of the Internet, using Internet technologies such as Web browser and servers on local area networks
facts, information, skills, awareness, or familiarity acquired through experience or education; theoretical or practical understanding of a subject
knowledge information systems
information systems used by knowledge and data workers to produce, store and disseminate knowledge
knowledge worker
a person whose primary work activities include working with, creating, using and distributing information
knowledge work system (KWS)
engineering, graphics or managerial workstations for creating expertise/knowledge
management information system (MIS)
planning, development, management and use of information technology tools to help people perform all tasks related to information processing and management; an information system that provides information to support managerial decision making; can be an information reporting system, executive information system or decision support system; a system that provides periodic, predetermined, and/or ad hoc reporting capabilities
mass customization
when a business gives its customers the opportunity to tailor its products or services to the customer's specifications
office automation system (OAS)
a computer-based information system that collects, processes, stores and transmits electronic messages, documents and other forms of office communications among individuals, work groups and organizations; an office productivity application such as word processing, document imaging or calendar
operational information systems
information systems that assist operational management with managing and directing day-to-day operations and implementation of goals and strategies
organizational feasibility
how well a proposed information system supports the objectives of an organization's strategic plan for information systems
delegating specific work to a third party for a specified length of time, at specified cost, and at a specified level of service
pilot study
in the development of an information system, the institution of the new system in only one part of an organization; when that portion of the organization is satisfied with the system, the rest of the organization then starts using it
point of sale terminal
a computer terminal used in retail stores that serves the function of a cash register as well as collecting sales data and performing other data processing functions; captures information and commands at the point of origin of a transaction, typically in a retail environment
private network
communications media owned or leased by an organization to connect its networks or network components
a working model; for an information system, includes tentative versions of user input and output, databases and files, control methods, and processing routines; a working system model that is functional enough to draw feedback from users
the rapid development and testing of prototypes of new information system applications in an interactive, iterative process, involving both systems analysts and end users
public network
network used by more than one organization
quality assurance
methods for ensuring that information systems are free from errors and fraud and provide information products of high quality
relational data structure
a logical data structure in which all data elements within the database are viewed as being stored in the form of simple tables; data elements from various tables are linked through their common fields
request for proposal
a formal document that describes in detail your logical requirements for a proposed system and invites outsourcing organizations to submit buds for its development
risk management
identification of risks or threats, implementation of security measures, and monitoring these measures for effectiveness
source data automation
the use of automated methods of data entry that attempt to reduce or eliminate many of the activities, people and data media required by traditional data entry methods
strategic information systems
information systems that provide a firm with competitive products and services that give it a strategic advantage over its competitors in the marketplace; information systems which promote business innovation, improve operational efficiency, and build strategic information resources for a firm; information systems used by senior managers to monitor long-term trends, make long-term plans and provide overall direction and guidance
supply chain
paths reaching out to all suppliers of parts and services to a company; information systems can improve collaboration between trading partners in order to reduce time and costs
a group of interrelated or interacting elements forming a unified whole; working together toward a common goal by accepting inputs and producing outputs; A collection of components purposefully organized into a functioning whole to accomplish a goal
systems analysis
analyzing in detail the components and requirements of a system; the information needs of an organization, characteristics and components of current systems, and functional requirements of proposed systems
systems design
a blueprint, plan or model of a system; deciding how a proposed information system will meet the information needs of end users; includes logical and physical design; it should satisfy system requirements developed in the systems analysis
systems development
developing information systems by a process of investigation, analysis, design, implementation and maintenance
systems implementation
putting a planned system into action; the stage of systems development in which hardware and software are acquired, developed and installed, the system is tested and documented, people are trained to operate and used the system, and an organization converts to the use of a newly developed system
systems life cycle
in information systems, the birth, development, use, and eventual abandonment of the system
systems maintenance
the monitoring, evaluating and modifying of a system to make desirable or necessary improvements
technical feasibility
whether reliable hardware and software, technical resources capable of meeting the needs of a proposed system can be acquired or developed by an organization in the required time
total quality management (TQM)
assuring that everyone in the organisation is responsible for quality
an exchange of goods, services or funds
transaction processing system (TPS)
an information system that processes data arising from the occurrence of business transactions; usually used for daily routine transactions and record-keeping, especially sales, payroll, reservations, shipping, and worker tracking
unstructured or nonstructured decisions
decisions which must be made in situations where it is not possible to specify in advance most of the decision procedures to follow; there may be several "right" answers, and no precise way to get a right answer
virtual private network
a public network that uses security techniques to simulate a private network, generally slower in performance but lower cost
what-if analysis
observing how changes to selected variables affect other variables in a mathematical model
work flow analysis
a study of the way documents and other information related to a process moves through an organisation, in order to improve efficiency

Sources: Haag (2002), O'Brien (1995)