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The Role of Information Systems in Running the 21st Century Organization

Management Information Systems (MIS) focus on the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in managing organizations. In the 21st century almost all organizations use Information and Communication Technologies to efficiently manage their operations, to help managers make better decisions and achieve competitive advantage, and to facilitate seamless internal and external communications with their employees, customers, partners, and other stakeholders.

Businesses Pre-Information Systems

Until the 1990s, before the widespread adoption of personal computers and the Internet, companies were using information systems to manage data processing and record-keeping activities associated with business transactions like maintaining the general ledger (book keeping), payroll, billing, inventory management, etc. The focus was mainly on maintaining files and databases related to day-to-day operations. Communications, both internal and external, relied on paper, telephone, faxes, and other analog media. Information systems have evolved over the last 40 years, including the move from the mainframe computer of the 1970s to personal computers becoming an integral part of the tracking and organizational process in the 1980s. The arrival of the mainstream internet in the 1990s expanded business capabilities and the role of information systems to a global system of interaction.

Today, the main focus of companies is to stay globally competitive by leveraging the capabilities of modern information and communication technologies (ICT). Companies can use ICT to provide products & services of the highest quality at affordable prices and top-rated customer service, and help the companies to enter new markets through e-commerce. Globalization, collaboration, and integration have become the new drivers in this competitive arena. To remain competitive, companies are investing in modern information systems like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, which integrate the different functional areas of the business, and provide consistent real-time data for fast decision making. ERP systems help companies manage their operations seamlessly across the globe.

Companies’ Modern Day Use of Information Systems

In the past when a company received a customer order, whether it was for a service requested or for a product purchased, the order needed to go through a process of paper-based workflow that was passed along to different departments, inbox-to-inbox. Throughout this process, the order often had to be re-typed as it passed through various departments, increasing the potential for human error. There was no accurate account order status because there was no official tracking device to alert each department. In order to retrieve order status information, customers were frequently directed to contact the company’s warehouse for manual research!

Today, companies have eliminated the inaccuracy of paper-based tracking by implementing ERP systems. In a recent study conducted by Panorama Consulting Solutions, 63 percent of companies used their ERP software to eliminate inefficiencies in processes such as order tracking. Instead of standalone computer systems, ERP uses a unified program that links various functional departments such as finance, HR, manufacturing, warehouse, planning, purchasing, inventory, sales, and marketing. While each department may have its own set of software modules, the software is interconnected so that information can be shared throughout the organization. Once one department is finished updating and processing the order, it is automatically routed to the next department so that everyone is alerted to changes made.

Adopting the Global Market

Many businesses have begun to participate in the global market, as it presents a chance for greater revenue and larger business prospects.

Already, the global information systems market has seen consistent demands from several businesses. The challenges vary depending on the size of businesses. For smaller businesses, controlling operations and storing information are less complicated. As businesses grow, especially those intersecting with global relations, information systems are used to manage operations accurately without growing the number of employees. The growing supply chains require that software solutions be used in the following sectors:

  • Web-based ordering
  • Customer relationship management
  • Product configuration

The Future of Information Systems

As companies try to reduce costs, improve productivity, employers are looking to ERP systems to help them grow and remain competitive globally. Information systems have enhanced productivity for businesses. A career in managing information systems is ideal for those looking to advance in a Fortune 500 company. As businesses and organizations today require more and more technical skills, companies are looking for employees who will help manage and operate the various information-based tools.

Among the many degree and certificate programs available online at The University of Scranton are the two programs pertaining to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). These programs provide hands-on experience in utilizing SAP ERP, the market leader in ERP software today.  The ERP programs offered at The University of Scranton are: (i) a stand-alone, 4-course Graduate Certificate program; and (ii) an ERP specialization within the MBA program.