Management Information Systems vs. IT: What's the Difference?
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Organizations use a combination of information technology and management information systems to drive critical decisions. Knowing what the difference is between these two concepts and how to use them can help you understand business models and increase your knowledge of computers, information and business practices. In this article, we discuss management information systems and information technology, including their definitions, differences and how they affect organizations.
What are management information systems?
A management information system (MIS) is a large-scale group of technologies that help organizations manage, coordinate and analyze information from within. Below are descriptions of the different parts an MIS can have:
Sets of data
Many organizations record and store information related to their operations. They do so because they can use the information to analyze internal processes to find areas of improvement, key performance indicators (KPIs) for their organization and ways to maximize efficiency in processes that the organization already improved. Examples of the data an organization may store include:
Employee production units: These are measures of how well an employee contributes to an organization. This metric can be different for every organization.
Profit margins: This is the amount of money an organization makes compared to its expenses. This can vary from one organization to another.
Machinery downtime and uptime: The time a unit of production machinery spends being repaired or running, respectively.
Click-through rates: This is an online metric used to see the number of people who access an organization's web pages.
Computing devices are the hardware and their associated software that organizations use to employ management information systems. These are important components of MISs because they provide people with access to higher levels of the overall system, an important part of a system administrator's job, and at lower levels they allow specific individuals to access the resources for other components in the system, such as databases and analysis tools. Examples of computing devices include:
Computers: Computers are most organizations' primary access point for their management information systems. They may house every program the organization uses or just one particular aspect of the system.
Tablets: Tablets are becoming more common in workplaces for taking notes and for communicating between different teams and team members within an organization. While they haven't replaced computers yet, they are becoming more powerful and have the advantage of being more mobile than computers and more powerful than smartphones.
Smartphones: Many organizations use smartphones to create quick communication between team members as phone calls, emails and text messages. While they aren't as powerful as tablets, they are very mobile and can allow management to communicate with large numbers of people quickly.
Internal communication systems: Internal communication systems, such as instant messenger systems or a company-specific email, can help organizations communicate quickly and effectively with everyone in the organization. They also have the benefit of being able to create smaller groups to facilitate instant messages for particular teams of individuals.
Computer programs: These are the programs that management can use to keep track of information. This includes progress tracking programs, content management systems, project queues and others that give managers a way to observe their team members.
Read more: What Is a Management Information System?
These are the methods through which the people in management roles decide on and inform their organizations of changes. This can include changing processes, finding new talent for specific projects, changing budgets for projects and setting deadlines for tasks. This can also include processes such as providing training, addressing challenges in the workplace and setting attainable but challenging goals as motivation for employees and being a model for achieving those goals.
What is IT?
Information technology (IT) is the technology organizations use to create, maintain and use computer systems, software and networks, which they then use to store, process and distribute data to internal and external recipients. Examples of internal recipients include managers, team leads and project teams, while external recipients include customers, other organizations, researchers and data scientists. Information technology is also only focused on using computers and related technologies. Examples of information technology include:
Radio and telephone equipment: Organizations can use this technology to communicate with their members and different locations quickly and over vast distances.
Computer applications: Organizations use these technologies to input, process and output data, which they use for a wide variety of purposes, such as analysis, reports or process improvement.
Software: Organizations use these technologies to automate office production, such as word processing, creating spreadsheets and organization production methods for project managers and team leads.
Computers: Organizations use computers as key access points for their information. This can include internal information used by data analysts to drive decision-making and external information to build public trust and increase sales for businesses.
IT professionals: Organizations employ these professionals to analyze the data in their systems, build and maintain their networks for technology and create more efficient processes for gathering data for their systems. These professionals may also provide support for internal and external users of an organization's information technology.
Differences between management information systems vs. IT
The major difference between information technology and management information systems is that MISs operate as a system of technologies to provide information to management teams and help drive performance in the workplace, while IT is only a single part of that entire system. For example, MISs may have computers to access a content management system, both of which are information technology, but the use of the data by managers becomes part of a much larger system of professionals and computers. This means that both are necessary for modern organizations, but MISs have a larger scope, while IT focuses on computers.
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