“The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand.” – Eric Schmidt
As human beings we have made huge progress in technology and it has become an integral part of our life. Making use of technology and understanding it are two very different things; there are many aspects of it which people find difficulty in understanding. There has been long confusion regarding Information technology and Information systems. These two terms are many times regarded as one, but they stand different. The perception regarding this is very important for those who see a future or a career within it. May be you are one of them, so, today, we are going to understand these differences and clear the air for you.
What Is information systems?
Information systems (IS) is an umbrella term, of which Information Technology (IT) is a part or subset. Information system thus is a platform including a network of – components, systems, processes, as well as people – all of which with proper co-ordination contribute towards creating, processing, storing, disseminating, and distributing information. All the components of Information System, if used separately may not be able to achieve what they achieve as a well coordinated network. To put it simply, an Information system takes raw data (i.e. facts or values), organizes and analyses this data within a database; and then turns it into very useful information. Do note that Information systems need not be compulsorily computer based; it can be simply a paper and pen system.
Other than a pen and paper system another Example of information system could be our everyday calculator. You press in numbers on it, choose an operation – add, subtract, divide, multiply, etc. – and then you get the result. This can be considered a simple Information system which is not computer-based. Information System constitutes the bigger picture and thus is able to place technology and business together so that the ultimate need is for benefitting the business with the help of technology. Management Information Systems, Decision Support Systems, Transaction Processing Systems, Knowledge Management Systems, Office Automation System, Learning Management Systems, etc. are the various types of Information Systems.
What Is Information Technology?
Information technology is a term which falls under the Information System; and includes the designing, implementation, management, and support of computer based Information systems. Thus, all the technological components of IS are included in IT and thus, it deals with the computerized technological aspect of the information such as its storage, transfer, and even accessibility. Thus, IT helps with data storage, transfer, and manipulation of the electronic aspect of business. It is important in business communication too. To put it simply, Information Technology is aimed at managing and improving the use of technology to contribute towards the goals and progress of the business. Example of information technology thus includes networks, databases, hardware and software systems such as personal computers, tablets, smart phones, surveillance cameras, routers, servers, sensors, etc.
Information Technology Vs. Information Systems
What exactly differentiates both Information Technology and Information System? The answer is simple; Information Technology is a part while Information System is the whole. Let’s understand with an easy example. You receive a laptop from the company you work for. Whenever you go to office, you plug in your laptop to your company’s network. You can then access the server of your company, connect to all the other devices at your company, have access to the intranet, etc. In short, your assigned laptop is now a part of the entire Information System of your company. On the other hand, when you return home with your laptop, you are no longer connected to your company’s Information System. Now the laptop is a simple device, which has the capacity of connecting with a network. In short, your laptop is now only a part of the Information Technology like any other laptop or hardware, etc.
Information Systems encompasses of components including software, hardware, data, people, and process. Of these components software, hardware, and data are part of Information Technology too; while People and process are the distinguishing components of Information Systems. To be precise, Information System is more people oriented and process specific as compared to Information Technology.
The main purpose of clearly distinguishing Information System and Information Technology becomes necessary if you are opting to make a career for yourself within this field. So, if you are wondering what all educational degrees or career options you have available, let’s take a look. Information Theory, Social Science, Foundations of Management, Information Technology, etc. are the various degrees or educational choices included under Information System which are available for students to choose from. On the other hand Technical Support, Programming, Web Development, IT Security, Network Engineering, etc. are the various career prospects available to students included under Information Technology.
These are all the basics about these two important terms. It is important for you to understand all the technicalities of both these paths, so that you can decide upon which educational path you want to choose. There is no right or wrong choice to be made in between two, but rather it is more about choosing the one which matches your goals, and interests too. You may already have the necessary skills or maybe you are debating upon the skill you need to learn. No matter what both the fields as well as the job roles and responsibilities are all interdependent. The major difference is that Information Technology is more specific, as it is a part of the whole system. The final choice whether to go for Information System or Information Technology of course remains with you, we can only help you to make an information decision