Management information systems have been taking the spotlight in the IT world. That is because they are one of the most critical parts of a company.
Management Information Systems (MIS) is a term that has been gaining traction lately, especially among IT professionals.
The reason is because it’s a vital part of company, especially major companies, and it involves a lot of infrastructures.
And the need for infrastructure keeps growing.
What is a management information system?
Putting it simply, it’s a system that handles information about and for management. It’s a computational system that compiles many kinds of information about the company, such as:
- Sales reports from each product across every branch;
- Inventory and equipment data;
- Employee data and statistics (such as wages and productivity);
- Statistics from every branch;
- Customer feedback;
- Marketing surveys;
- Supply chain information;
- Among many other possible data.
Analysts can present and analyze this data in many different forms.
People in decision-making positions are then able to figure out more easily what they should and shouldn’t do in order to keep the company afloat make it prosper.
This is pretty much like the famous Big Data, but specifically for making business decisions.
How does it work?
Although the MIS term is recently becoming more popular, it has existed for a while now.
Back in the early days of computing, a management information system was run by mainframes, old, bulky computers that would take up entire rooms and were pretty slow compared to today’s computers.
However, they were already much faster and more flexible than doing things by hand, so companies that could afford them were early adopters.
Over time, computer speeds increased while their sizes decreased, so companies could now give computers to their employees while storing their information in in-house servers.
All those computers were interconnected in their own internal network, an intranet, so information transfer became much faster too.
This then evolved with the rise of enterprise software, software developed by specialized companies that aimed at making it easier to store and access information in servers, without the need for an in-house software development team.
This also made it much cheaper to have access to a MIS.
Now, with the rise of cloud computing, specialized companies now host the company’s entire data in their own servers and can also supply the software to process and access them.
While this takes away the company’s direct control over their own data, it also allows them to have access to much bigger storage space and processing power for a much lower price.
Why would you need management information systems?
Have you ever thought about how major companies make their business decisions?
Think about it: they have multiple branches spread out throughout the world, many products currently being sold, many other projects in many different stages of development, thousands of employees, all while having to account for economic matters and trends in the world and in many different places at once.
How do could you figure out what to do and what not to do?
It’s way too much stuff to take into account. Even for a single branch the managers still have a lot of factors to analyze.
However, many large companies manage to survive and thrive despite these matters.
The answer: management information systems, connected to many other kinds of systems, such as:
- Transaction processing systems;
- Decision-support systems;
- Executive support systems;
- Supply chain management systems;
- Customer relationship management systems;
- Among others.
This way, all information is gathered and analyzed in real time.
How can I start using management information systems?
To effectively use MIS, you need two things: an IT team inside the company, in order to keep it running, and a company that can provide the MIS resources to you.
Inside the company
Like with other IT responsibilities, the IT team is in charge of maintaining the computers and software involved operational and connected.
They also contact the company responsible for the MIS software and hardware whenever there is a problem.
There is also a degree in MIS nowadays, which could be interesting for people who want to specialize in the field.
Developing the system
The software and hardware involved are developed and maintained by software and hardware architects, which can have many different backgrounds: IT, computer science, software engineering, hardware engineering, electrical engineering, security analyst, among many others.
The MIS is one of the most critical parts of a business, as companies that use them rely on them to make the correct decisions and keep afloat.
Today’s world has way too much information for one person to handle, and all this information should be processed as objectively as possible to avoid dealing with possible biases.
What can we expect for the future?
Even though this kind of concept has existed for some decades, and every major company worldwide has been using it, only recently have people been discovering its importance, and have been shifting their attention more towards it than towards IT.
MIS as a degree
Even though MIS is a part of IT, IT is a much more broad concept and has much more responsibilities within a company.
This importance and shift towards MIS can be seen in the appearance of majors in Management Information Systems, which are becoming more sought after.
The demand for professionals that can handle and improve this critical part of every company has been increasing now more than ever, as our ability to get data is increasing rapidly.
This means that the need for more storage space and data processing is also growing exponentially.
Of course, the next step is now to integrate artificial intelligence into MIS, specially in the form of Machine Learning (ML) AI.
Systems that process a lot of information already use these kinds of AI.
For example, Amazon’s recommendation system, Facebook Ads and Google Ads have ML servers dedicated to finding patterns in users’ preferences and purchase history to figure out what else they would be interested in.
In the case of MIS, machine learning would be able to identify patterns across the company’s history in order to make well-informed suggestions about what the company should do next.
While we can’t really trust machine learning to make all the decisions for us (yet), they are an invaluable tool to automatically process decades of fine-grained data and generate something meaningful and user-friendly.
Management Information Systems are vital systems for any company, and they have been taking the spotlight as people started recognizing their importance. They are becoming ever more complex and need more specialized professionals to handle them. AI is also bound to improve it in the near future.
What else could be waiting for us in the following years?