Information systems (IS) is concerned with the information that computer systems can provide to aid a company, non-profit or governmental organization in defining and achieving its goals. It is also concerned with the processes that an enterprise can implement and improve using information technology. IS professionals must understand both technical and organizational factors, and must be able to help an organization determine how information and technology-enabled business processes can provide a foundation for superior organizational performance. They serve as a bridge between the technical and management communities within an organization.
What information does the enterprise need? How is that information generated? Is it delivered to the people who need it? Is it presented to them in ways that permit them to use it readily? Is the organization structured to be able to use technology effectively? Are the business processes of the organization well designed? Do they use the opportunities created by information technology fully? Does the organization use the communication and collaboration capabilities of information technologies appropriately? Is the organization capable of adapting quickly enough to changing external circumstances? These are the important issues that businesses rely on IS people to address.
A majority of IS programs are located in business schools; however, they may have different names such as management information systems, computer information systems, or business information systems. All IS degrees combine business and computing topics, but the emphasis between technical and organizational issues varies among programs. For example, programs differ substantially in the amount of programming required.
Traditionally, many graduates of IS programs have functioned in roles that are similar to the roles for which IT programs explicitly prepare their students. Information systems graduates continue to fill these roles, but the new programs in information technology offer an alternative path to these positions.