information system

information system


      an integrated set of components for collecting, storing, processing, and communicating information (information science). Business firms, other organizations, and individuals in contemporary society rely on information systems to manage their operations, compete in the marketplace, supply services, and augment personal lives. For instance, modern corporations rely on computerized information systems to process financial accounts and manage human resources; municipal governments rely on information systems to provide basic services to its citizens; and individuals use information systems to study, shop, bank, and invest.

      As major new technologies for recording and processing information have been invented, new capabilities have appeared. The invention of movable type in the mid-15th century and the creation of the portable typewriter at the end of the 19th century are but two examples. Each of these inventions led to a profound revolution in the ability to record and disseminate information. The first large-scale mechanized information system was Herman Hollerith (Hollerith, Herman)'s census tabulator. Invented to process the 1890 U.S. census, Hollerith's machine represented a major step in automation, as well as an inspiration to develop computerized information systems. One of the first computers used for such information processing was the UNIVAC I, installed in the U.S. Bureau of the Census in 1951 for administrative use and in General Electric in 1954 for commercial use. Beginning in the 1970s, personal computers brought some of the advantages of information systems to small businesses and to individuals, and the invention of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s accelerated the creation of an open global computer network. This was acompanied by a dramatic growth in digital human communications (e-mail and electronic conferences), delivery of products (software, music, and movies), and business transactions (buying, selling, and advertising on the Web).

      As information systems have enabled more diverse human activities, they have exerted a profound influence over society. These systems have quickened the pace of daily activities, affected the structure and mix of organizations, changed the type of products bought, and influenced the nature of work. Information and knowledge have become vital economic resources. Yet, along with opportunities, information systems have exposed new threats.

Components of information systems
      The main components of information systems are computer hardware and software, databases, telecommunications systems, human resources, and procedures.

Computer hardware
      Today even the smallest firms, as well as many households, own or lease computers. These are usually microcomputers (microcomputer), also called personal computers. Large organizations typically employ multiple computer systems, from a few powerful mainframe machines (or even more powerful supercomputers (supercomputer)) and minicomputers to widely deployed personal computers. Together with computer peripheral equipment, such as magnetic disks, input-output devices, and telecommunications gear, these constitute the hardware of information systems. The cost of hardware has steadily and rapidly decreased, while processing speed and storage capacity have increased vastly.

Computer software
      Computer software falls into two broad classes: system software and application software. The principal system software is known as the operating system. It manages the hardware, files, and other system resources and provides a systematic and consistent means for controlling the computer, most commonly via a graphical user interface (GUI). Application software is programs designed to handle specialized tasks; many of these programs are sold as ready-to-use packages. Examples include general-purpose spreadsheet and word processing programs, as well as “vertical” applications that serve a specific industry segment—for instance, an application that schedules, routes, and tracks package deliveries. Larger firms often develop their own application software or customize existing packages to meet specific needs. Some companies, known as application service providers (ASPs), have begun to rent specialized application software on a per-use basis over the Web.

Databases (database)
      Many information systems are primarily delivery vehicles for databases. A database is a collection of interrelated data (records) organized so that individual records or groups of records can be retrieved that satisfy various criteria. Typical examples of databases include employee records and product catalogs. Particularly valuable are customer databases that can be “mined” for information in order to design and market new products more effectively. Anyone who has ever purchased something with a credit card—in person, by mail order, or over the Web—is included within some of the numerous customer databases.

Telecommunications (telecommunication)
      Telecommunications are used to connect, or network, computer systems and transmit information. Various computer network configurations are possible, depending on the needs of an organization. Local area networks (LANs) join computers at a particular site, such as an office building or an academic campus. Wide area networks (WANs) connect machines located at different sites, and often within different organizations. The Internet is a network of networks, connecting millions of computers located on every continent. Through networking, personal computer users gain access to information resources, such as large databases, and to human resources, such as coworkers and people who share their professional or private interests.

Human resources and procedures
      Qualified people are a vital component of any information system. Technical personnel include development and operations managers, systems analysts and designers, computer programmers, and computer operators. In addition, workers in an organization must be trained to utilize the capabilities of information systems. Hundreds of millions of people around the world are learning about information systems as they use the Web.

      Procedures for using, operating, and maintaining an information system are part of its documentation. For example, procedures need to be established to run a payroll program, including when to run it, who is authorized to run it, and who has access to the output.

Types of information systems
 Information systems support operations, knowledge work, and management in organizations. The overall structure of organizational information systems is shown in the figure—>.

Operational support
      At the operational level are transaction processing systems through which products are designed, marketed, produced, and delivered. These systems accumulate information in databases that form the foundation for higher-level systems.

      In today's leading organizations, the information systems that support various functional units—marketing, finance, production, and human resources—are integrated into what is known as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. ERP systems support the entire sequence of activities, or value chain, through which a firm may add value to its goods and services. For example, an individual or other business may submit a custom order over the Web that automatically initiates “just-in-time” production to the customer's exact specifications through an approach known as mass customization. This involves sending orders to the firm's warehouses and suppliers to deliver materials just in time for a custom-production run. Finally, financial accounts are updated accordingly, and billing is initiated.

      Along with helping to integrate a firm's own value chain, transaction processing systems can also serve to integrate an organization's overall supply chain. This includes all of the various firms involved in designing, marketing, producing, and delivering the goods and services—from raw materials to final delivery. Thus, interorganizational information systems are essential to supply-chain management. For example, purchasing an item at a Wal-Mart store generates more than a cash register receipt; it also automatically sends a restocking order to the appropriate supplier. Suppliers can also access a retailer's inventory database over the Web to schedule efficient and timely deliveries.

      Many transaction processing systems support electronic commerce over the Internet. Among these are systems for on-line shopping, banking, and securities trading. Other systems deliver information, educational services, and entertainment on demand. Yet other systems serve to support the search for products with desired attributes, price discovery (for example, via an auction), and delivery of products in an electronic form (software, music, movies, or greeting cards). A growing array of specialized services and information-based products are offered by various organizations on the Web, as an infrastructure for electronic commerce is emerging on a global scale.

Support of knowledge work
      A large proportion of work in an information society involves manipulating abstract information and knowledge, rather than directly processing, manufacturing, or delivering tangible materials. Such work is called knowledge work. Three general categories of information systems support such knowledge work: professional support systems, office information systems, and knowledge management systems.

Professional support systems
      Professional support systems offer the facilities needed to perform tasks specific to a given profession. For example, automotive engineers use computer-aided engineering (CAE) software together with “virtual reality” systems to design and test new models for fuel efficency, handling, and passenger protection before producing prototypes, and later they use CAE in the design and analysis of physical tests. Biochemists use special three-dimensional modeling software to visualize the molecular structure and probable effect of new drugs before investing in lengthy clinical tests. Investment bankers often employ financial software to calculate the expected rewards and potential risks of various investment strategies. Indeed, specialized support systems are now available for most professions.

Office information systems
      The main objectives of office information systems are to facilitate communication and collaboration between the members of an organization and to facilitate them between organizations. Placing an organization's documents and messages in an electronic format—which can be classified, indexed, and stored for easy retrieval—enables individuals to access information on demand. One type of office information system, known as a workflow system, is used to route relevant documents automatically to all appropriate individuals for their contribution. Other types of office information systems handle digital messages in the form of electronic mail, facsimile, and voice mail.

      Another category of office information systems allows different individuals to work simultaneously on a shared project by using networked computers. Known as groupware (collaborative software), such systems accomplish this by continually sending updated documents—such as business proposals, new designs, or progress reports—to each collaborator's computer. These individuals and their computers need not be located in the same office or even the same building. Groupware is usually deployed over an intranet, a private network that is closed to the general public, and is often accessed by using software originally developed for the Internet.

Knowledge management systems
      Knowledge management systems provide a means to assemble and act on the knowledge accumulated throughout an organization. Such knowledge may include the texts and images contained in patents, design methods, best practices, competitor intelligence, and similar sources. Organizational knowledge is often tacit, rather than explicit, so these systems must also direct users to members of the organization with special expertise. Access to an organization's knowledge is often provided via an intranet equipped with specialized search software. The next section, Management support, describes how information systems are used to assemble reports and reach executive decisions.

Management support
Management reporting systems
      A large category of information systems comprises those designed to support the management of an organization. Those systems rely on data obtained by transaction processing systems, as well as data acquired outside the organization (such as business intelligence gleaned on the Internet) and data provided by business partners, suppliers, and customers.

      Information systems support all levels of management, from those in charge of short-term schedules and budgets for small work groups to those concerned with long-term plans and budgets for the entire organization. Management reporting systems provide routine, detailed, and voluminous information reports specific to each manager's areas of responsibility. Generally, these reports focus on past and present performance, rather than projecting future performance. To prevent information overload, reports are automatically sent only under exceptional circumstances or at the specific request of a manager.

Decision support systems
      All information systems support decision making, however indirectly, but decision support systems are expressly designed for this purpose. The two principal varieties of decision support systems are model-driven and data-driven.

      In a model-driven decision support system, a preprogrammed model is applied to a limited data set, such as a sales database for the present quarter. During a typical session, an analyst or sales manager will conduct a dialog with this decision support system by specifying a number of “what-if” scenarios. For example, in order to establish a selling price for a new product, the sales manager may use a marketing decision support system. Such a system contains a preprogrammed model relating various factors—the price of the product, the cost of goods, and the promotion expense—to the projected sales volume over the first five years on the market. By supplying different product prices to the model, the manager can compare predicted results and select the most profitable selling price.

      The primary objective of data-driven decision support systems is to analyze large pools of data, accumulated over long periods of time in “data warehouses,” in a process known as data mining. Data mining searches for significant patterns, such as sequences (buying a new house, followed by a new dinner table) and clusters (large families and van sales), with which decisions can be made. Data-driven decision support systems include a variety of statistical models and rely on various artificial intelligence techniques, such as expert systems (expert system), neural networks (neural network), and intelligent agents (agent).

      An important category of decision support systems enables a group of decision makers to work together without necessarily being in the same place at the same time. These group decision systems include software tools for brainstorming and reaching consensus. Another category, geographic information systems, can help analyze and display data by using digitized maps. By looking at a geographic distribution of mortgage loans, for example, one can easily establish a pattern of discrimination.

Executive information systems
      Executive information systems make a variety of critical information readily available in a highly summarized and convenient form. Senior managers characteristically employ many informal sources of information, however, so that formal, computerized information systems are of limited assistance. Nevertheless, this assistance is important for the chief executive officer, senior and executive vice presidents, and the board of directors to monitor the performance of the company, assess the business environment, and develop strategic directions for the future. In particular, these executives need to compare their organization's performance with that of its competitors and investigate general economic trends in regions or countries for potential expansion. Often relying on multiple media, executive information systems give their users an opportunity to “drill down” from summary data to increasingly detailed and focused information.

Acquiring information systems
      Information systems are a major corporate asset, with respect both to the benefits they provide and to their costs. Therefore, organizations have to plan for the long term before acquiring and deploying information systems. On the basis of long-term corporate plans and the requirements of various individuals from data workers to top management, essential applications are identified and project priorities are set. For example, certain projects may have to be carried out immediately to satisfy a new government reporting regulation or to interact with a new customer's information system. Other projects may be given a higher priority owing to their strategic role or greater expected benefits.

      Once the need for a specific information system has been established, the system has to be acquired. The fundamental decision is: buy or make. Actually, this decision is not quite so simple. It is rarely possible to buy exactly the right information system. Although the hardware, telecommunications, and system software may be purchased or leased from vendors, information systems generally require a customized approach. An information system must model the specific, and possibly unique, way that a particular organization operates.

Acquisition from external sources
      There are three principal ways to acquire an information system from outside the organization. The most common method is to purchase or lease a software package that is usually customized internally or by an outside contractor. Instead of an expensive purchase or rental, an organization may decide to use the services of an application service provider (ASP), a firm that makes applications available over the Web. This practice is particularly popular with very expensive packages, such as those for enterprise resource planning, in which customers pay for the use of only the software modules that they actually need. Finally, a number of firms outsource day-to-day running and development of their information systems to a specialized vendor.

In-house development
      When an information system is developed internally by an organization, one of two methods is used: life-cycle development or rapid application development (RAD).

 Large organizational systems, such as transaction processing systems and management reporting systems, are generally developed and maintained through a systematic process, known as a system life cycle, that consists of six stages: feasibility study, system analysis, system design, programming and testing, installation, and operation and maintenance. The first five stages concern system development proper; the last stage involves long-term exploitation. Following a period of use (with maintenance as needed), as the figure—> shows, the information system may be either phased out or upgraded. In the case of a major upgrade, the system enters another development life cycle.

      The principal objective of a feasibility study is to determine whether the system is desirable on the basis of long-term plans, strategic initiatives, and a cost-benefit analysis. System analysis provides a detailed answer to the question, What will the new system do? The next stage, system design, results in an extensive blueprint for how the new system will be organized. During the programming and testing stage, the individual software modules of the system are developed, tested, and integrated into a coherent operational system. Further levels of testing ensure continuing quality control. Installation includes final testing of the system in the work environment and conversion of organizational operations to the new system. The later stages of development include such implementation activities as training users and modifying the organizational processes in which the system will be used.

      Life-cycle development is frequently faulted for its long development times and voluminous documentation requirements—and, in some instances, for its failure to fulfill the user's requirements at the end of the long development road. Increasingly, life-cycle development has been replaced by a process known as rapid application development. With RAD a preliminary working version of an application, or prototype, is built quickly and inexpensively, albeit imperfectly. This prototype is turned over to the users, their reactions are collected, suggested modifications are incorporated, and successive prototype versions eventually evolve into the complete system. Sometimes RAD and life-cycle development are combined: a prototype is produced to determine user requirements during the initial system analysis stage, after which life-cycle development takes over.

      After an installed system is handed over to its users and operations personnel, it will almost invariably be modified extensively over its useful life in a process known as system maintenance. For instance, if a large system takes 2 years to develop, it will typically be used and maintained for some 5 to 10 years or even longer. Most maintenance is to adjust the system to the organization's changing needs and to new equipment and system software, but inevitably some maintenance involves correcting design errors and exterminating software “bugs” as they are discovered.

Managing information systems

Information system infrastructure and architecture
      A well-designed information system rests on a coherent foundation that supports modifications as new business or administrative initiatives arise. Known as the information system infrastructure, the foundation consists of core telecommunications networks, databases, software, hardware, and procedures. Managed by various specialists, information systems frequently incorporate the use of general information and telecommunication utilities, such as the Internet. Owing to business globalization, an organization's infrastructure often crosses many national boundaries. Creating and maintaining such a complex infrastructure requires extensive planning and consistent implementation to handle strategic corporate initiatives, transformations, mergers, and acquisitions.

      When organized into a coherent whole, the specific information systems that support operations, management, and knowledge work constitute the system architecture of an organization.

      Clearly, an organization's long-term general strategic plans must be considered when designing an information system infrastructure and architecture.

Organization of information services
      An information services unit is typically in charge of an organization's information systems. Where information services are centralized, this unit is responsible for planning, acquiring, operating, and maintaining information systems for the entire organization. In decentralized structures the central unit is responsible only for planning and maintaining the infrastructure, while business and administrative specialists provide systems and services for their own units. Additionally, a variety of intermediate organizational forms are possible.

      In many organizations, information systems are headed by a chief information officer (CIO). The activities of information services are usually supervised by a steering committee, consisting of the executives representing various functional units of the organization. As described in the next section, Information systems security and control, a vital responsibility of information services is to ensure uninterrupted service in the face of many security threats.

Information systems security and control

Information systems security
 Information systems security (security and protection system) is responsible for the integrity and safety of system resources and activities. Most organizations in developed countries are dependent on the secure operation of their information systems. In fact, the very fabric of societies often depends on this security. Information systems are at the heart of intensive-care units and air-traffic-control systems. Financial institutions could not survive a total failure of their information systems for longer than a day or two. Electronic funds transfer systems (EFTS) handle immense amounts of money that exist only as electronic signals over telecommunications lines or as magnetized spots on computer disks. Information systems are vulnerable to a number of threats, which require strict controls as countermeasures and regular audits to ensure that the system remains secure. The relationship between security measures is shown in the figure—>.

      Although instances of computer crime and abuse receive extensive media attention, human error is estimated to cause greater losses in information systems operation. Disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and fires are the particular concern of disaster recovery planning, which is a part of a corporate business continuation plan. A contingency scheme is also necessary to cover the failure of corporate servers or telecommunications networks.

Computer crime and abuse
      Computer crime (cybercrime)—illegal acts in which computers are the primary tool—costs the world economies many billions of dollars annually. Computer abuse does not rise to the level of crime, yet it involves some unethical use of a computer. Some of the more widespread security threats related to computer crime or abuse include impersonation, Trojan horse attack, logic bombs, and computer viruses and worms.

      Impersonation, as the name implies, involves gaining access to a system by impersonating a legitimate user—a feat that usually requires knowing or guessing a legitimate user's password. In a Trojan horse (trojan) attack, the malefactor conceals unauthorized instructions within an authorized program. A logic bomb consists of hidden instructions, often introduced with the Trojan horse technique, that stay dormant until a specific event occurs, at which time the instructions are activated. In one well-known case, a programmer placed a logic bomb in his company's human resources system; when his name was later deleted from the company's employee database, the entire database was erased.

      Computer viruses (computer virus) are a particularly common form of attack. These are program instructions that are able not only to perform malicious acts but also to insert copies of themselves into other programs and e-mail and onto diskettes placed in the “infected” personal computers, from which they may spread to other computer systems. Similar to viruses, worms are complete computer programs that replicate through telecommunications networks.

Information systems controls
      To ensure secure and efficient operation of information systems, an organization institutes a set of procedures and technological measures called controls. Information systems are safeguarded through a combination of general and application controls.

      General controls apply to information system activities throughout an organization. The most important general controls are the measures that control access to computer systems and the information stored there or transmitted over telecommunications networks. General controls include administrative measures that restrict employee access to only those processes directly relevant to their duties. As a result, these controls limit the damage that any individual employee or employee impersonator can do. Fault-tolerant computer systems installed in critical environments, such as in hospital information systems or securities marketplaces, are designed to control and isolate problems so that the system can continue to function.

      Application controls are specific to a given application and include such measures as validating input data, regularly archiving copies of various databases, and ensuring that information is disseminated only to authorized users.

Securing information
      Controlling access to information systems became profoundly more difficult with the spread of wide area networks (WANs) and the Internet. Users, as well as interlopers, may access systems from any unattended computer within an organization or from virtually anywhere over the Internet. One security measure is to require some form of physical authentication, such as an object (a key or a smart card) or a personal characteristic (fingerprint, retinal pattern, hand geometry, or signature). Another common security measure is to assign a unique password to each legitimate user. Many systems combine these types of measures—such as automatic teller machines, which rely on a combination of a personal identification number (PIN) and a magnetic-strip identification card. Security measures placed between an organization's internal network and the Internet are known as firewalls.

      A different way to prohibit access to information is via data encryption, which has gained particular importance in electronic commerce (e-commerce). To ensure confidentiality, only the intended addressee has the key needed to decrypt messages. Furthermore, authentication of both parties in an electronic transaction is possible through the use of digital signatures—an additional code attached to the message to verify its origin—and by digital certificates issued to both parties by a trusted third party. A type of antitampering code can also be attached to a message to indicate interception or corruption. Similar means are available to ensure that parties to an electronic exchange cannot later repudiate their participation. Some messages require additional attributes. For example, electronic cash is a type of message as well, and sometimes encryption is used to ensure the purchaser's anonymity.

Information systems audit
      The effectiveness of an information system's controls is evaluated through an information systems audit. It is a part of a more general financial audit that verifies an organization's accounting records and financial statements. Information systems are designed so that every financial transaction can be traced. In other words, an audit trail must exist that can establish where each transaction originated and how it was processed. Aside from financial audits, operational audits are used to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of information systems operations.

Impacts of information systems

Organizational impacts of information systems
      Information systems bring new options to the way companies interact, the way organizations are structured, and the way workplaces (work) are designed. In general, use of network-based information systems can significantly lower the costs of communication among workers and firms and enhance coordination on collaborative projects. This has led many organizations to concentrate on their core competencies and to outsource other parts of their value chain to specialized companies. The capability to communicate information efficiently within a firm has also led to the deployment of flatter organizational structures with fewer hierarchical layers.

      Nevertheless, information systems do not uniformly lead to higher profits. Success depends on both the skill with which information systems are deployed and the availability of other assets. In particular, “virtual” organizations have emerged that do not rely on physical offices and standard organization charts. Two notable forms are a network organization and a cluster organization.

      In a network organization, long-term corporate partners supply goods and services to and through a central firm. Together, a network of small companies can present the appearance of a large corporation. Indeed, at the core of such an organization may be nothing more than a single entrepreneur supported by only a few employees. Thanks to information systems, product specifications in an electronic form can be modified during computerized video conferences between employees throughout an organization—after which supplies can be secured and distribution coordinated, using automatic electronic forms as sales orders are received. Wide area networks, and the Internet in particular, help partnering organizations to facilitate the interaction of widely dispersed business units.

      In a cluster organization, the principal work units are permanent and temporary teams of individuals with complementary skills. Team members, who are often widely dispersed around the globe, are greatly assisted in their work by the use of corporate intranets and groupware.

      Information systems built around portable computers, mobile telecommunications, and groupware have enabled employees to work not just outside the corporate offices but virtually anywhere. “Work is the thing you do, not the place you go to,” has become the slogan of the emerging new workplace. Virtual workplaces include home offices, regional work centres, customers' premises, and mobile offices of people such as insurance adjusters. Employees who work in virtual workplaces outside their company's premises are known as telecommuters.

Information systems in the economy and society
      Along with the global transportation infrastructure, network-based information systems have been a factor in the growth of international business and corporations. Although studies have yet to show a relationship between the deployment of information systems and higher productivity, it is widely believed that such a relationship exists. In addition to investing in other information systems, a large and growing number of organizations have embraced electronic commerce over the Internet.

      As the use of information systems has become pervasive in advanced economies and societies at large, several ethical and social issues have moved into the forefront. The most important are issues of individual privacy, property rights, universal access and free speech, information accuracy, and quality of life.

      Individual privacy (privacy, rights of) involves the right to control personal information. While invasion of privacy is generally perceived as an undesirable loss of autonomy, government and business organizations do need to collect data in order to facilitate administration and exploit marketing opportunities. Electronic commerce presents a particular challenge to privacy, as personal information is routinely collected and disseminated in a largely unregulated manner. Preventing abusive invasions of privacy is complicated by the lack of an international legal standard.

      Intellectual property (property law), such as computer software, books, music, and movies, is protected, albeit imperfectly, by patents, trade secrets, and copyrights. However, such essentially intangible goods can be easily copied and transmitted electronically over the Web for unlawful reproduction and use. Combinations of legal statutes and technological safeguards, such as antipiracy encryption and electronic watermarks, are emerging.

      Access to public information systems, such as the World Wide Web, is increasingly necessary for full participation in modern society. In particular, it is necessary to avoid the emergence of “digital divides” between nations and between social and ethnic groups. Open access to the Internet as a medium for human communication and as a repository for shared knowledge is treasured. Indeed, many people consider free speech a universal human right and the Internet the most widely accessible means to exercise this right. Yet legitimate concerns arise about protecting children without resorting to censorship. Technological solutions, such as software that filters out pornography, are partially successful.

      Of concern to everyone is the accuracy and security of information contained in databases—whether in health and insurance records, credit bureau records, or government files—as misinformation can adversely affect personal safety, livelihood, and everyday life. Individuals must cooperate in reviewing and correcting their files, and organizations must ensure appropriate access to and use of such files.

      Information systems have affected the quality of personal and working lives. In the workplace, information systems can be deployed to eliminate tedious tasks and give workers greater autonomy, or they can be used to eliminate jobs and subject the remaining workforce to pervasive electronic surveillance. Consumers can use the Internet to comparison shop for everything from manufactured goods to financial services or even to participate in auctions—but at the cost of contending with spam (unsolicited e-mail), intercepted credit card numbers, and malicious computer viruses.

      Information systems can expand participation by ordinary citizens in government through electronic elections, referendums, and polls and also provide electronic access to government services and information—permitting, for instance, electronic filing of taxes, direct deposit of government checks, and distant viewing of current and historical government documents and photographs. Yet information systems have also conjured Orwellian images of government surveillance and intrusion into private lives. It remains for society to harness the power of information systems by strengthening legal, social, and technological controls.

Vladimir Zwass

Additional Reading

Information systems theory and overview
Vladimir Zwass, Foundations of Information Systems (1998), provides an extensive analytic description of the field of information systems. David G. Messerschmitt, Understanding Networked Applications: A First Course (2000), is an accessible guide to information system resources. Vasant Dhar and Roger Stein, Intelligent Decision Support Methods: The Science of Knowledge Work (1997), analyzes information systems that support decision-making processes. Mark Humphries, Michael W. Hawkins, and Michelle C. Dy, Data Warehousing: Architecture and Implementation (1999), discusses the organization and mining of large databases.

Information systems management
Lynda M. Applegate, F. Warren McFarlan, and James L. McKenney, Corporate Information Systems Management: Text and Cases, 5th edition (1999), describes strategic uses of information systems and illustrates these with excellent case studies. Thomas H. Davenport and Laurence Prusak, Information Ecology: Mastering the Information and Knowledge Environment (1997), takes a holistic view of information management in organizations and considers computer-based information systems as a part of this whole. Candace Deans and Jaak Jurison (eds.), Information Technology in a Global Business Environment: Readings and Cases (1996), contains a good selection of key articles on the subject.

Impact of information systems on society
Rob Kling (ed.), Computerization and Controversy: Value Conflicts and Social Choices, 2nd ed. (1996), is a collection of essays on the societal impact of information systems and on the ethical choices encountered. Manuel Castells, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, 3 vol. (1996–98), is a broad analysis of the international information society.

The future of information systems
Two perspectives on the future role of information systems can be gleaned in Nicholas Negroponte, Being Digital (1995); and Michael L. Dertouzos, What Will Be: How the New World of Information Will Change Our Lives (1997).Vladimir Zwass

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