As the CIO of her company, much of Suneeta's job involves dealing with technology. In terms of information systems, technology is hardware, software, data and network communication. Hardware is the physical piece of technology, like a computer, tablet or phone. If you can take a hammer to a piece of technology, it's probably hardware.
Software, on the other hand, is a program that runs within hardware. For example, Suneeta has a special software that allows her to see which employees are logged onto their computers at any given time. Suneeta's favorite game on her phone, her spreadsheet app and her Internet browser are all examples of software.
Data is the collection of information into what's called a database. As we mentioned, Suneeta can see which employees are logged on at any given time. That's pretty useful information if she wants to know what people are doing right this moment. But if she collects that information over time, she can see which employees are using their computers the most. Further data that can be even more useful to Suneeta's company includes sales information, such as who has bought what products and what their average customer is like. For example, perhaps the average Hats Galore customer is in their thirties, married and lives a busy lifestyle. Knowing that could help the company by telling them that they need to market their hats in a certain way and/or provide a quick and easy check-out process for the busy customers.
Finally, network communication involves the tools that allow people to communicate electronically, such as via email. This is done through software just like data is often collected and stored through software, but it is in an integral part of a company's function, so it should be considered on its own as an element of technology. All of the different types of technology share one major thing. They involve the use of nonhuman tools to make human work easier, more efficient and more effective.
Some days, Suneeta thinks that if all she had to do was manage technology, her job would be a piece of cake. But that's not the only component in information systems, and it's not the only part of Suneeta's department. In fact, perhaps the most central key of information systems are people, including help desk workers, programmers, the CIO and other key players in the information systems department. These people have different functions. For example, Suneeta's job as CIO is very different from the job of a help desk worker who is tasked with fixing problems for employees at Hats Galore. And the help desk workers job is very different than that of a programmer, who designs software and websites for the company.
Still, people in information systems have one thing in common: they are both the reason for the information system and the key to how it integrates within the organization. For example, without Suneeta and her department, the technology and processes, which we'll look at in a moment, wouldn't do much for the company. The people make things work.
As we've seen, technology and people are a major part of information systems, but there's one final component that Suneeta needs to understand. A process is a series of steps undertaken to achieve a goal. There are many processes in Suneeta's department, as there are many information systems. For example, they have one process for dealing with technical issues from customers who call in. They have a separate process for designing and implementing a new website. Still other processes might involve assigning technology for employees to use, changing a technology supplier or keeping databases up to date. The one thing that the processes and information systems have in common is that they should align with company goals. For example, Hats Galore might have a goal of making more money through sales. Suneeta's department might then implement an information systems process to help make the sales process more smoothly. The point is, that the information systems process is there to help the company achieve its overall goals.
Information systems is at the intersection of technology, people and processes within an organization. There are three major components to any information system. Technology includes hardware, software, data and network communication. Another key component of information systems is the people, including help desk workers, programmers, the CIO and other key players in the information systems department. Finally, a process is a series of steps undertaken to achieve a goal. Processes and information systems should always align with company goals.