Introduction To Information Systems


• Diagrammatic representation of an information system in context
• Diagrammatically represent a given scenario that involves an information system 14
• The environment – everything that influences and is influenced by the information system
• The purpose – a statement identifying who the information system is for and what it needs to achieve
• Who the information system is for includes individuals and organisations
• The information system – a set of information processes requiring participants, data/information and information technology built to satisfy a purpose
• Information processes – computer based and non-computer based activities
• Information technology – hardware and software used in information processes
• Data – the raw material used by information processes
• Information – the output displayed by an information system
• Users – a person who views or uses the information output from an information system
• Participant – a special class of user who carries out the information processes within an information system

Introduction to systems:

In this unit you will:

  • Learn about systems and how they can be described
  • See how an information system is different from other types of systems
  • Discover how information systems can affect their environment.

What is a system?

A system is a collection of parts that work together to achieve a particular purpose or result. A system can describe just about everything. Your body is a system because you have a collection of different parts that work together to keep you alive. Most systems, like your body can be divided into a collection of smaller and simpler systems that work together. All systems have inputs, processes and outputs. Every system has a clear purpose, the exact purpose depends on who is using the system and why they are using it.

What is an information system?

An information system accepts data as an input and produces information or processed data as an output. The thing that makes an information system different from other types of system is information systems work with data, unlike most systems data are not objects and isn't always visible, though data is often used to represent real objects.

Breaking down a computer-based information system
A computer-based information system is a collection of information, technology, data and information, information processes and participants.
The information technology in the system is a collection of video display unit, keyboard, mouse, printer, modem, speakers, headsets, disk drives, memory, motherboard, power supply, software, manuals.
The information technology in a mouse is a collection of a ball, rollers, motion sensors, buttons, case.

Breaking down a non-computer based information system
A non-computer based personal information system is a collection of information technology, data and information, information processes, participants.
The information technology in the system is a collection of diary, calendar, phone, books, recipts, credit and debit cards.
The information technology in a book is a collection of sheets of bound paper, text.

The parts of an information system are:

  • Information technology - the equipment and instructions used by an information system.
  • Data and information - the raw materials (data) and the finished product.
  • Information processes - the operation performed on the data.
  • Participants - the people who are involved in some way with the operation of the information system.

What is a participant?
A participant is anyone who is involved in the operation or running of an information system. Because they work directly with the data, participants are also called 'direct users'.

Information systems and their environment
Information systems do not exist by themselves they are part of an environment. An environment is where the information system is used. It includes other systems that supply data as inputs and accepts data/information as outputs from the system. The data in a system can also have an effect on the environment when processed and released as information. Information systems can also effect their environment, for example if the environment is a house and heaters are a part of the house's system, when turned on the heaters alter the room temperature thus altering the environment.

Information systems and their specific purpose
Information systems are designed to solve particular problems. Most systems have been designed to perform one task, or at the most, a few. Although other systems have been designed as generalised information systems capable of performing a wide range of tasks, for example the standard home computer. The computer can perform a wide range of roles because it is built with many different hardware components that allow the computer to meet the different needs. The software in the computers decide on what type of information system the computer will be and which tasks the computer is going to perform.

People are an important part of any system
People are involved at all levels of an information system. There are those who supply data, those who manage the data and those who use the information.

End users
A person who obtains information from an information system can be described as an end user. The end user is at the end of the process that produces an information system - hence the name 'end user'. The end user receives data and information produced by an information system. A person going out for dinner can be described as an end user when they receive the printed bill as this is the end of the process.

Personal and group information systems
A way to classify an information system is by the number of participants involved in an information system. Some information systems are designed for the use of individuals, such as a personal home computer. Personal systems, like other systems collect, process, store and display data but they do this in a way so that it is for individual/private use. End users have total control over a personal information system. The end user decides which documents are created on a PC, what inputs and output will occur and how the data will be processed.
Other information systems are designed for group use. Many people add data to these systems and share the information that is produced. Group information systems are known as group systems because they have many participants. Individuals who use group information systems often have little control, they usually do not control the selection of the data to be entered, how the data is used, how the data will be processed and how the results will be used. As the data in these systems are used by many participants security is an important issue. As many people use the information system data can easily be damaged accidentally or deliberately.

1. Identify the information technology and participants in a computerised library catalogue information system.
2. Contrast the roles of end users in personal and group information systems
3. Explain how new developments in technology has altered the role of participants in information systems.

1. The information technology include: the program used, the information stored within the program. Participants would include: the librarian entering data about books.
2. End users have a much bigger role in personal information systems over group information systems. As personal information systems are made for the specific end user to privately use the end user has control over the selection of data and how the data is used and how it will be processed; but in a group information system end users have little control over the data and just obtain information provided by the participants.
3. As technology advances less information needs to be provided by participants, changes such as the internet and search engines have seen a change as people go to these sources for information provided by other participants. While saying this participants are also needed to cover a lot more as there are more information systems.


Information Processes and Technology, Peter Ware + David Grover,, published 2003 by John Wiley and sons Australia LTD

Websites: , accessed 03/04/2011, last modified on 15 February 2011, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. , accessed 03/04/2011, last modified on 19 March 2011 , Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

By Tyson Wood