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Monday, March 31, 2014
The information system categories discussed so far (visit : http://www.management4all.org/2014/03/computer-based-information-systems.html) are primarily oriented toward planning and control activities or toward general office and communication activities. What about systems designed to directly support people doing the value added work that customers care about, such as practicing medicine, designing buildings, or selling investments? Some people call these systems “functional area systems”. Because there is no generally accepted term from information systems that support value added work, we will call them execution systems. These systems have become much more important in the last decade as advances in computer speed, memory capacity, and portability made it increasingly possible to use computerized systems directly while doing value added work. Such systems help plastic surgeons design operation and show the likely results to their patients, help lawyers find precedents relevant to lawsuits, and help maintenance engineers keep machines running.
Expert systems are a type of execution system that has received attention as an offshoot of artificial intelligence research. An expert system supports the intellectual work of professionals engaged in design, diagnosis, or evaluation of complex situations requiring expert knowledge in a well-defined area. Expert systems have been used to diagnose diseases, configure computers, analyze chemicals, interpret geological data, and support many other problem solving processes. This type of work requires expert knowledge of the process of performing particular tasks. Although these tasks may have some repetitive elements, many situations have unique characteristics that must be considered based on expert knowledge. Intellectual work even in narrowly defined areas is typically much less repetitive than transaction processing general office work.
A Decision Support System (DSS) is an interactive information system that provides information, models and data manipulation tools to help make decisions in semi structured and unstructured situations where no one knows exactly how the decision should be made. The traditional DSS approach includes interactive problem solving direct use of models, and user-controllable methods for displaying and analyzing data and in formulating and evaluating alternative decisions. This approach grew out of dissatisfaction with the traditional limitations of TPS and MIS. TPS focused on record keeping and control of repetitive clerical processes. MIS provided reports for management but were often inflexible and unable to produce the information in a form in which managers could use it effectively. In contrast, DSSs were intended to support managers and professionals doing largely analytical work in less structured situation with unclear criteria for success. DSSs are typically designed to solve the structured parts of the problem and help isolate places where judgment and experience are required.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Many firms have tried to take transaction processing to a higher level by creating Enterprise Information Systems that encompass the transaction processing done in the various functional silos. The idea of these efforts is to create unified databases that permit any authorized individual to obtain whatever information would be helpful in making decisions across the organization. So having all this information in a unified database should improve decision-making. Enterprise information systems are quite controversial because the effort to create them is enormous. They involve much more than changing the format of databases. Often it is necessary to change business processes to suit the needs of the information system instead of vice versa. Nonetheless, many organizations have found that the integration resulting from this large investment seems to be worthwhile. The last part of this discussion explains why these information systems are usually called Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems even though planning is not their main focus.
Management and Executive Information Systems
A Management Information System (MIS) provides information for an organization’s managers. The idea of MIS predates the computer age. For example, as long ago as the middle 1500s, the Fogger family in Augsberg, Germany, had business interests throughout Europe and even into China and Peru. To keep in touch, they set up a worldwide news reporting service through which their agents wrote letters about critical political and economic events in their areas of responsibility. These letters were collected, interpreted, analyzed, and summarized in Augsberg and answered through instructions sent to the family’s agents. This paper-based system encompassing planning, execution, and control helped the family move more rapidly in the mercantile world than their rivals. Instructions went out to the agents; the agents executed their work’ and the agents reported their results.
Saturday, March 29, 2014
A Transaction Processing System (TPS) collects and stores data about transactions and sometimes controls decisions made as part of a transaction. A transaction is a business event that generates or modifies data stores in an information system. TPSs were the first computerized information systems. We encounter computerized TPSs frequently, including every time we write a cheque, use a credit card, or pay a bill sent by a company. A TPS used to record a sale and generate a receipt is primarily concerned with collecting and storing data. If the TPS validates a credit card or helps a clerk determine whether to accept a personal check, it also controls decisions made within the transaction.
TPSs are designed based on detailed specifications for how the transaction should be performed and how to control the collection of specific data in specific data formats and in accordance with rules, polices, and goals of the organization. Most contain enough structure to enforce rules and procedures for work done by clerks or customer service agents. Some TPSs bypass clerks and totally automate transactions; such as the way ATMs automate deposits and cash withdrawals. A well-designed TPS checks each transaction for easily detectable errors such as missing data, data values that are obviously too high or too low, data values that are inconsistent with other data in the database and data in the wrong format. It may check for required authorizations for the transaction. Certain TPSs such as airline reservation systems may automate decision-making functions such as finding the flight that best meets the customer’s needs. Finally, when all the information for the transaction has been collected and validated, the TPS stores it in a standard format for later access by others.
Electronic communication systems help people work together by exchanging or sharing information in many different forms. New communication capabilities have changed the way many businesses operate by making it possible to do many things at a distance that previously required being present in a specific location. These tools are grouped into four general categories. Teleconferencing systems make it possible to hold same-time, different-place meetings. Messaging systems make it possible to transmit specific messages to specific individuals or groups of individuals. Groupware systems start with messaging but go further by facilitating access to documents and controlling team related workflow. Knowledge management systems facilitate the sharing of knowledge rather than just information.
The use of electronic transmission to permit same-time, different-place meetings is called teleconferencing. We can think of a traditional telephone call as a minimal teleconference, but the term is normally applied to other options including audio conferencing, audio graphic conferencing, and video conferencing.
The distinction between these approaches is related to the type of information that is shared. Audio conferencing is a single telephone call involving three or more people participating from at least two locations. If several people on the call are in the same office, they can all participate using a speakerphone, which includes a high-sensitivity microphone and a loudspeaker that can be heard by anyone in a room. Audio graphic conferencing is an extension of audio conferencing permitting dispersed participants to see pictures or graphical material at the same time. This is especially useful when the purpose of the meeting is to share information that is difficult to describe, organize, or visualize, such as a spreadsheet or model used to perform calculations under different assumptions. Video conferencing is an interactive meeting involving two or more groups of people who can see each other using television screens. The least expensive forms of video conferencing are tiny cameras and 4-inch screens add to telephones or separate video conferencing windows displayed on computer screens. In typical business video conferencing, remote participants appear on a television screen.
Friday, March 28, 2014
An Office Automation System (OAS) facilitates everyday information processing tasks in offices and business organizations. These systems include a wide range of tools such as spreadsheets, word processors, and presentation packages. Although telephones, e-mail, v-mail, and fax can be included in this category, we will treat communication systems as a separate category.
OASs help people perform personal recordkeeping, writing, and calculation chores efficiently. Of all the system types, OASs and communication systems are the most familiar to students. Tools generally grouped within the OAS category include:
-Spreadsheets are an efficient method for performing calculations that can be visualized in terms of the cells of a spreadsheet. Although spreadsheet programs seem second nature today, the first spreadsheet program was VisiCalc, which helped create the demand for the first personal computers in the late 1970s.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
An Information system is a set of people, procedures, and resources that collects, transforms, and disseminates information in an organization. Today’s end users rely on many types of Information Systems (IS). Some are simple manual information systems, where people use tools such as pencils and paper, or machines such as calculators and typewriters. Others are computer-based information systems. Computer-based information systems mean the use hardware, software, telecommunications, and other forms of Information Technology (IT) to transform data resources into a variety of information products. Four kinds of organizational changes are enabled by Information systems. These are automation, rationalization, re-engineering, and paradigm shift. When an organization does not use its internal resources to build and operate information system it takes help of other organizations to provide these services. This is called outsourcing. There are advantages and disadvantages of using outsourcing. Quality programs differ greatly from company to company. Some are merely generalized “sales” campaigns intended to sensitize employees to the need to strive for more quality in their daily work. At the opposite extreme, quality programs can result in fundamental changes in the way a company does its business. Companies also follow different routes in achieving quality. Whatever route a company selects, the more it tries to achieve with its quality programs, the more information systems can contribute the success of those programs.
A computer based information system uses the resources of people (end users and IS specialists), hardware (machines and media), and software (programs and procedures), to perform input, processing, output, storage, and control activities that convert data resources into information products as shown in Figure-1.
Figure-1: The Components of an Information System
Sunday, March 23, 2014
BUSINESS SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS FROM SAP
There are rapid changes in business world. New products are introduced and new alliances are set-up. The companies, which are previously operating locally, are looking for expansion of global markets. There is manifold increase in competition. SAP is a world leader in business software solutions, with industry-specific products for virtually every aspect of operations. SAP claims that its solutions are built on such technologies that they will integrate with any systems. This is an important property as it enables to preserve your previous investment on it and do not have to major changes while migrating to SAP.
SAP offers highly specialized solutions and is the world leader in this category. With installations in 60000 customer locations in 120 countries, SAP is developed and supported by more than 28000 professionals from its global network and this is increasing. Its popularity can be verified from the fact that 19000 organizations worldwide run on SAP. SAP claims that its solutions are designed in such a way so that the businesses get a better return on their technology investment. SAP claims to achieve great results for many companies, large and small e.g. Brother International got a 129% return on its investment on SAP’s Customer Relationship Management program and Volvo Construction Equipment achieved an 89% increase in sales, a 43% reduction in shipping lead times, and a fourfold increase in revenue per employee with the help of SAP’s Supply Chain Management program. SAP’s solutions are available for many industries like aerospace and defense, engineering, construction, and operations, financial service providers, insurance, telecommunications and banking etc. SAP offers a suite that helps businesses to respond more quickly to changing customer needs and market conditions. SAP business suite includes CRM, Financials, HR, SRM and SCM and many more. The table given below describes them.
Table-1: SAP Solutions Under its Business Suite
Thursday, March 20, 2014
In the present competitive business age everybody wish to choose a system that suits his business processes. Integrated systems are the systems that help in integrating key business and management functions. They provide a high-level view of all the activities that are going on in the business. In the earlier days, data used to be collected from different nodes and then compiled in the form of a summary report. All these processes were too time consuming. Presently the software does this compilation or integration work. There are many packages that integrate the activities of different business divisions and thus allow the businesses to devote more time on productive things. However there are different needs of different business and one should be careful in deciding about software that would be useful to him. Any company looks for these packages to integrate its corporate functions like finance, manufacturing and human resources. This is a critical activity. As a budding manager you should be able to understand the system requirement of your company. You should be able to define the information flow, information requirements and information usage so that you gain competitive edge.
Literal meaning of “Integration” is combination or amalgamation. In terms of computer terminology, “Integration” is a broad term for any software that serves to join together or act as a go-between between two separate and usually already existing applications. Integrated software applications for business gives you the ability to integrate the diverse information sources pertaining to your business into a single framework. This integrated information can then be shared by applications such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) systems.
Friday, March 14, 2014
ETHICS IN INFORMATION SOCIETY
Ethics determine generally accepted and encouraging activities within a company and the larger society. Ethical computer users define acceptable practices more strictly than just reframing from committing crimes. They consider the effects of their activities including Internet usage, on other people and organizations. There are many associations who have developed a code of ethics that provide useful guidance. The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has developed a number of specific professional responsibilities. These responsibilities include the following:
a) Access computing and communication resources only when authorized to do so.
b) Honor contracts, agreements and assigned responsibilities.
c) Give comprehensive and through evaluations of computer systems and their impacts, including analysis of possible risks.
d) Accept and provide appropriate professional review.
e) Strive to achieve the highest quality, effectiveness and dignity in both the process and products of professional work.
The above code of conduct for his deeds if a person accesses some data without proper authorization, he held responsible. The person cannot say that data should have been protected and get away with it. The information system and their impact must be audited like other systems. Information system is like any other product and the users must be aware of the risks involved. The unethical use of information system can devastate an organization.
INFORMATION RIGHTS, PRIVACY AND FREEDOM IN AN INFORMATION SOCIETY
Saturday, March 8, 2014
The value of information is measured in terms of benefits to the organization. The benefits may be tangible that can be easily quantified. For example, 5% increase in sales is a tangible benefit, which corresponds to Rs. 50,000. If the cost of the information that led to this additional profit is Rs. 20,000. Then the value of the information is Rs. 30,000. Sometimes, the benefits may be intangible and cannot be easily quantified. For instance, the information may help consumers to connect to a company better. The employees may feel respected in an organization if more information is shared with them. In both the cases, the attrition rate will decrease and the corresponding benefit cannot be directly measured in terms of financial benefit to the organization.
In fact, whenever an organization identifies an opportunity for using information to its advantage, it develops an information system. However before developing the system, a cost/benefit analysis is done to figure out net benefit of the system. There are many methods to assess value of information system, which is explained below.
1) Cost-benefit Analysis
IT project and investments has to take its place in the queue for all too scarce cash resources, and the rules for justifying are the same as for any other project.
A more sophisticated argument is that, because the risks inherent in decision about IT are higher, the expected ROI needs to higher before an investment can be justified.
Friday, March 7, 2014
DATA, INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE
Data is raw material with which we start and information is the finished product.
For example, look at the following links:
You would agree that the above lines contain data. But in the present form, the above data is useless. Let me now put the data in the proper context as follows:
The data is now usable and we can process it to extract information such as the amount withdrawn from account number 1234 is 5000.00. We can consolidate the data and extract the information that Rs. 24500.00 were withdrawn on 25/2/04.
Information has been defined as :
Data that have been put into a meaningful and useful context and communicated to a recipient who uses it to make decisions it reduces uncertainty, reveals additional alternatives or helps eliminate irrelevant or poor ones.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM
The subject of management information system (MIS) has different meaning for different people. The concept of MIS has evolved over a period of last two decades or so. The initial management information systems were built to process transactional data of an organization and to produce regular reports. The reports were not targeted and individuals picked the required data from the report. The information systems evolved further and produced different reports according to requirements. Instead of user looking through the report for required data, the system generated a report in a suitable format that created an impact on its user and provoked an action, a decision or an investigation. Today, an information system has evolved to the stage where they handle databases and facilitate decision-making.
Accordingly, definition of MIS has also evolved. There are many closely related definitions in use. The terms MIS is synonymously used with terms the Information System (IS), the Information and Decision System and the Computer based Information System.
The MIS is defined as an integrated system of man and machine for providing the information to support the operations, the management, and the decision-making function in the organization.
The above definition emphasizes an association between MIS and decision-making. An application software that processes data, which is not used for decision-making, cannot be called an MIS. For instance, a computer-aided design system is not an MIS.