Lori holds an MBA. She has taught business and accounting at several community colleges.
Input is anything we wish to embed in a system for some type of use. A variety of sources are used to input: keyboard, scanner, microphone, mouse, even another computer. What we input has a purpose - but until it is processed and generated in some form of output, it doesn't do us much good.
Processing takes place in the internal parts of the computer. It is the act of taking inputted data and converting it to something usable. What we typically see on the screen in today's computer world (known as what you see is what you get or WYSIWYG) is the result of our input being processed by some program so we can have usable output: an English paper, an edited photograph, this video you're watching.
Output, or processed information in a usable format, comes in many different forms: monitor or printer for visual work, a speaker for audio. Sometimes our output is short-term, such as printing a photo, and sometimes what we work on needs to be kept around for a while. That's where storage comes in.
Storage is the term used to indicate we will be saving data for a period of time. We store for many reasons: for future reference; to prevent full loss of data; because we forget to purge. But, storage is vital. There are several mediums on which we can keep output and processed data: a hard disk, a USB drive, a CD.
Here are two anecdotes to drive that point home. Someone lost an entire season of her son playing hockey because she didn't back-up the video and photo files. And a fellow student was working on a year-long bachelor's thesis and did not back it up the first, the second or the third time she lost it - all at different stages of completion, with a thesis over 60 pages long when she was done.
Quick - what does IPOS stand for? That's right, input, process, output and store! Besides the four functions of IPOS, an information system also requires feedback. This is how future systems are revised and rebuilt - by receiving ideas, impressions and constructive (or not so constructive) criticism by users and other stakeholders.
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IPOS in Action
'Okay, teach. You gave us a bunch of technical jargon, but what does it mean?'
Let's take a trip to a favorite restaurant. The overall system means that a patron is entering the doors, being seated (and served a tasty meal), then departing as a happy customer. The bottom line is a meal that pleases the customer because all of the criteria were met. There are multiple inputs in this transaction and we will step through them.
The first input: greetings would be exchanged and the patron places their order. Let's say you're ready for a steak. At this point we go into the process mode: the chefs will do their thing back in the kitchen. Output: the dinner will be presented nicely to Mr. Smith. For storage, your order is kept for the evening and tied with the computer system that may be used for ordering, trend analysis and other things. In feedback: in this case, you (the patron) provide feedback to the server about the quality of the food and service. Was the steak cooked to your liking? Do you have the correct side dishes and condiments? Is the taste satisfactory?
Now, take that back to the information system. Many restaurants use a point-of-order information system that accepts input at a computer screen and flows through an entire process. During the input step, the server jots down your order and then inputs it into the order system. The order is then processed (along with other patrons') by using that order system. Orders are output either on printed tickets or monitors for the kitchen staff (and of course, on your final bill). Servers, kitchen staff and managers may provide feedback to the system administrator regarding functionality, ease of use, repetitive tasks and so on. And finally, storage: the information that is stored can be used as previously mentioned for inventory control and sales trends. It can also be used for income and expense reports, staffing needs and so on.
- Input, or anything we wish to embed in a system for some type of use,
- Processing, or the act of taking inputted data and converting it to something usable,
- Output, or processed information in a usable format,
- Storage, or the method of saving data for a period of time,
are the components making up an information system.
After watching this lesson, you should be able to identify and summarize the four elements of IPOS.
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Input, Processing, Output & Feedback: Information System Components
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