What is the difference between information technology and information systems

Information Technology (I.T.) is often used interchangeably with Information Systems (I.S.) but in reality, they are two different things.

1, Information Technology (IT) Information Technology (IT) consists of hardware such as desktop, laptops and mobile technologies PDAs and even Mobile phones. IT comprises the software that is used on all these devices ranging from System Software (operating systems e.g. Windows, Macintosh and Linux) to Application softwares or productivity management software (e.g. Microsoft office and Accounting packages).

IT also includes enterprise software such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) programs, Supply Chain Management (SCM) programs and Customer Relations Management (CRM) softwares. Most IT systems are looked on as support activities to the business.

They mechanize operations for better efficiency, control and effectiveness, but they do not in themselves increase corporate profitability. They are basically used to provide management with sufficient dependable information to keep the business running smoothly and they are used for analysis to aid in planning new directions.

2, Information Systems

Information Systems (IS) also includes all the systems that aid in inputting data (raw facts), processing it into meaningful information and outputting it in the form e.g. print out for decision making. Any computer system has the input, process and output parts from a technical standpoint but compared to good information systems as well as behavioral standpoint and not just simply from technical standpoint, thus the way and manner the people in the organization will interact with information technology to achieve the business objectives.

The final stage of information is feedback. Feedback ensures the determination that the information systems properly process the data input and the output, in turn is appropriate and timely. A good information system is determined by it ability to change data into appropriate useful information. Therefore, information systems (IS) skills are management skills, they are not primarily technological as seen above, but rather include:

1. An understanding of strategic and operational business planning and associated IT issues;

2. The ability to perform appropriate analysis of IT investments;

3. An understanding of IT related benefits and risks;

4. The ability to stimulate and manage organizational change and

5. The ability to communicate effectively about IT issues.

Current Trends

Strategic information systems has become an integral and necessary part of business that is aimed at directly influencing market share, earnings and all other aspects of marketplace profitability. They may even bring in new products, new markets and new ways of doing business.

They directly affect competitive stance of organizations, giving them advantages against their competitors.

As a result of the above analysis, it is important for us to be able to differentiate between being computer literate and information literate.These phrases are also sometimes used interchangeably but strictly speaking, they are not the same.

Computer Literacy and Information Literacy:

a. Computer literacy

Computer literacy is possession and ability to use of hardware devices such as PCs, Desktop computers and other powerful mobile devices as well as communication media such as the internet to perform some tasks (This coincides with IT knowledge as seen above).

b. Information Literacy

Information literacy is the ability to use Hardware, software and network technologies to identify your business problems and to create solutions to assist your business organization to achieve its objectives (This coincides with Information systems skills as above). In conclusion, there are three dimensions of business information systems, thus:

1. Technology,

2. People and

3. Organization.

The Use of Information Systems in Business Problems Below are the four steps in using information systems to solve business problems:

1. Identification of problem exactly – this could prove to be challenging as we normally attribute symptoms to the cause of the problems and therefore the next stage is flawed leading to a bad result.

2. Solution design – where appropriate problem identification has been done, then the necessary design of the solutions approach could be arrived.

3. Choosing the best solution – since there could be many options in the solution design stage, careful analysis of the organization, technology and people will assist the choice of the most appropriate solution.

4. Implementation – this is about business process change management and it requires a more in-depth approach.

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