Information system building blocks

Learning objectives:
1). Review the fundamentals of information systems. 2). Understand the framework for information systems architecture. 3). Describe four groups of stakeholders in information systems development and their perspectives. 4). Describe four building blocks of information systems framework- data, processes, interfaces and geography. Introduction: This chapter describes the fundamental aspects of information systems and takes an architectural look at information systems and applications. 1) Review the fundamentals of information systems. Data are raw materials about the organization and business transactions. Information is those data, which are refined and organized by processing and purposeful intelligence. People, data, processes, interfaces and geography that are involved in daily business operations are collectively called information system. Information technology, which is the combination of computer technology and telecommunications technology support modern information system. Table 2.1 The types of Information systems (IS) Type of Information System Transaction Processing Systems Description

also called data processing system. These are information system applications, which get the data and process them for business transactions. Transaction processing systems can initiate transactions, respond to transactions and also are involved in data maintenance. Response time, throughput, accuracy, consistency, and service are critical aspects of transaction processing systems. When business process redesign takes place, underlying transaction processing system must be redesigned. provide management oriented reporting in predetermined, fixed format. These help managers on planning, monitoring and controlling business operations. help users to make decisions by providing useful information that supports unstructured decisions. DSS identifies problems, propose possible solutions, access to information needed, analyze possible decisions and simulate their likely results. Users and manager using DSS tools access data warehouse. This read-only informational database is to support unstructured decisions using detailed, summary and exception information. simulate thinking of experts. These applications are implemented with artificial intelligence technology. These applications capture the knowledge and expertise of experts to help users with less expertise support the wide range of business office activities. These applications improve workflow and communications between workers regardless of their physical locations are typically built using personal computer technology and software. Personal information system is for individual’s productivity and designed to support a single user’s needs. While work group information system meets the needs of a work group and to increase the group’s productivity.

Management Information systems Decision Support Systems

Expert Systems

Office Information Systems

Personal and Work Group Information Systems

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2) Understand the framework for information systems architecture Unifying framework into which various people with different perspectives can organize and view the fundamental building blocks of information is called information systems architecture. System owners, system users, system designers and builders, each having different views of the system, are the broadly classified groups of stakeholders of information system. Information systems framework with each group of stakeholders and their own view of the information system are shown in the figure 2.1.

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3) Describe four groups of stakeholders of information systems development and their perspectives. Information workers are those people involving in creation, collection, processing, distribution, and use of information. They can be further divided into 4 groups: system owners, system users, and system designers System Owners System owners are whose people who are responsible for budgeting the money and time to develop, operate, maintain the IS, system’s justification and acceptance. They are more interested in general terms, and not in details. System users are those people who use the information system more often than any other information workers are. Their main tasks are capturing, validating, entering, responding to, storing, and exchanging data and information. They are mainly concerned with business requirements of the system Internal users: The majority of system users are often internal users who are employees of the business. Examples of those users are: Clerical and service workers Technical and professional workers Knowledge workers Supervisors, middle managers and executive managers Remote and mobile users: Mobile users are the employees who work outside of their office. Similarly remote users are the internal users who work from home and are connected to the company’s information system. All of these new classes of system users are supported by the modern telecommunication technology. Today, businesses redesign their information system such that external users can also access to their information system. This redesign enhances the activities connecting their business and trading partners, suppliers, customers and even to the end customer System Designers Bridge the gap between users’ business requirements and builders’ technical implementation of the system. Designing the computer files, databases, inputs, outputs, screens, networks and programs which response to users’ requirements and constraints are their main tasks. Integrating technical aspects of the system back into the daily business is also their job. Implement the information system components based on the design specifications. Often system designers and system builders for the same component are the same.

System Users

System Builders

The role of the systems analyst is to facilitate information systems development by analyzing different views of each stakeholder and ease the communication between the various other stakeholders. 4) Describe four building blocks of information system framework- data, processes, interfaces and geography. Even if two stakeholders are within the same row in the figure 2.1, they each can focus on different aspects of the system. Four different focuses in a system are data, processes, interfaces and geography. 4.a) Building Blocks of Data Data are raw facts about the organization and business transactions that are used to produce useful information. Therefore data is considered one of the fundamental building blocks of an information system. The main goal of the data building block is to capture and store business data using database technology.

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System Owners’ View

Owners are often concerned with their business resources needed for the system’s mission or must be managed to achieve the business objectives such as customers, products, equipment, buildings, orders and payments. He is interested in the global view of business entities and relationships. Users are very familiar with data capturing, storing, processing and editing. They manipulate data of the system on the regular basis and they are concerned with current data implementation. System users are responsible on defining the data requirements, which are the presentation of user’s data in terms of entities, attributes, relationships, and rules. Data requirement has to be independent of the underlying technology. Since the system users are the experts about the system’s data, additional entities and relationships can be identified along with system owners’ view of data E/R diagram.

System Users’ View

System Designers’ View

Designer’s view of the data is limited by the technology used by their business information system. Chosen Technology has to be used and the designers are responsible on translating users’ data requirements into computer files and databases schema, data structures fields, indexes etc. Systems designers use database schema, transformation of the data model into a set of data structures that can be implemented using the chosen database technology, to translate users’ data requirement and to provide builders with sufficient details to build a consistent system.

System Builders’ View

They implement data in details and in precise language. Their view of the data is the most technology-oriented way and closest to the database technology foundation such as SQL.

4.b) Building Blocks of Processes Processes are defined as tasks to be performed to complete the mission of the business. These can be performed by people, or automated by machines. The main objective of the process focus in the information system is to automate appropriate processes with computer technology. Similar to data focuses, each category of the information workers views system processes with different perspectives. System Owners’ View System owners are concerned with Business Function. Business Functions are the set of on-going activities that support the business. These functions are not detailed discrete processes. These are the main processes, which can further subdivided into many specific tasks. Today, information system has the trend that goes from function-centered system to cross-functional information system. System Users’ View Contrarily to system owners, the system users view processes in terms of discrete business processes. Business Processes are the discrete activities with have input and output, starting times and stopping time. These can be repeating processes, occasional processes or rarely occurring processes. This term is independent of the information technology. Specific rules and procedures are given to business processes.

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System Designers’ View

Application architecture specifies which specific technology system designers must use. Designers’ view of processes is often limited by the chosen technology. System designers work on application schema, a model showing translation of the selected business processes into computer programs. System builders represent processes using precise computer programming languages that write application programs. They often use a technique called prototyping to build quickly a functional model of an application and to test the application.

System Builders’ View

4.c) Building Blocks of Interfaces Interfaces are about how a system is connected to other systems and how the system is presented to the user. Interfaces must be effective and efficient to the system’s users and to other information systems. Human engineering and ergonomics are also considered to produce more usable and productive information systems.

System Owners’ View

As other focuses, system owners are not interested in details, but in overall context of the system as it relates to the business as whole and other systems. They are concerned with simple context model. Context model represents a conceptual view of how the system’s input and output is interacting with other business. System users are very interested in user interface, which is how the system users directly interact with the information system. Interface deals with inputs, queries, receiving outputs and help. GUI and it "look and feel" for information system application make users easy to learn and easy to use new application. System designers are interested in both user interfaces and system interfaces. They take a consideration of other aspects of user interfaces such as consistency, completeness, user dialogs, error messages, etc. System designers, view the interface in terms of interface schema, which deals with system states, events changing the system states and responses to events. Integrating different systems to interoperate and designing the system-to-system interfaces that allow new information system to be added to the existing one, are other aspects that system designers deal with. System builders construct user and system interface. System builders also perform installation and testing. User interfaces technology is often come with the same programming language environments used to construct the computer processes. Constructing system interfaces is somehow more complex. Middleware system interface technology is popular. Middleware sites in between applications software and integrate different technologies so that they can interoperate.

System Users’ View

System Designers’ View

System Builders’ View

4.d) Building Blocks of Geography

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Information systems geography defines how the data, processes and interfaces are distributed to different business locations and how these data and information are moved between those locations. Decentralizing applications and databases to different computers across the network is called distributed computing. One of the popular distributed computing is client/server computing, which information is shared by clients and servers machines. System Owners’ View System Users’ View System owners view the geography as operating locations. Deciding the degree of centralizing, distributing or duplicating systems are system owners’ concern. Similar to system owners, system users’ view of geography is as operating locations, but closer to day-to-day locations. Communication requirements are important for system users. Communication requirement is the information resource requirements for operating locations and how different operating locations need to communicate with one another. System designers define geography in terms of network schema, which supports the business network. Network schema is also called a network configuration or topology. It identifies all the computer centers, computers and networking hardware that are involved in a computer application in a technical model. Distributing data, processes and interfaces across the network, collectively called activities partitioning, are performed by those system designers. System Builders’ View System builders implement network programs using telecommunication languages and standards. Network programs are machine-readable specifications of computer communications parameters such as node addresses, protocols, line speeds, flow controls, security, privileges and other complex, networking parameters.

System Designers’ View

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