Computer Information Systems (CIS) is also commonly referred to as Management Information Systems (MIS) or simply Information Systems (IS). The CIS function in an organization is responsible for the development of information systems that integrate organizational relationships and operations, streamline work processes, and provide data for business analysis and quality improvements. It is also responsible for staying abreast of new information technology and assisting in the incorporation of this technology into the organization's strategies, plans, and practices. In addition to this organization-wide perspective, the CIS function typically includes support of department and individual information systems as well.
Creating information systems for organizations requires the use of information technology for data acquisition, communication, coordination, analysis, and decision support. While the CIS discipline incorporates technology based methods (e.g. database management systems) for this activity, it also is very much concerned with "people issues" such as innovation, quality, human-machine interfaces, and change management, among others.
Information systems can be found throughout all organizations; it is incorporated into all functions, including marketing, production, finance, accounting, and all levels of management. The increasingly ubiquitous nature of information systems has moved the CIS function from "doing it all" to a function that supports innovation, planning and management of information infrastructures and coordination of information resources.
Computer Information Systems concentration courses introduce the student to business functions, organizations, computer information systems concepts, and practice. The courses help students develop effective skills to analyze, design, implement, and test computer information systems to support decision-making and transaction processing.
Students selecting the Computer Information Systems concentration are required to complete a two-semester course sequence in Visual Basic programming. In addition, all CIS students must complete courses in Database Management Systems, Network Administration, Systems Analysis and Design and an Application Development Project.
Computer Information Systems (CIS) is not Computer Science (CS)!
CIS and CS differ with respect to the context of the work to be performed, the types of problems to be solved, the types of systems to be designed and managed, and the way the technology is employed. CIS concentrates primarily on relating to the organization's overall objectives and secondarily to technical objectives. The domain of the CIS function is an organization and its systems.
By contrast, some would argue that the domain of Computer Science is algorithms and system software, with the emphasis on the "systematic study of the algorithmic process -- the theory, analysis, design, efficiency, implementation, and application -- that describe and transform information" [Denning, "Educational Ruminations", CACM, Oct 84].
In very loose terms, CS is concerned with the advancement of the state of the art of the underlying technology while CIS is more concerned with the application of current technology within an organizational (Business) context. Academically, then, CS is more of a "theoretical" discipline, while CIS is more of an "applied" discipline.
Virtually all employees in any organization today need fundamental personal computing skills such as e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets, databases, and presentation graphics. The CIS professional must also be adept at designing, developing, acquiring, and deploying an organization's information technology. This requires the ability to communicate effectively with other workers collectively and individually, and involves innovation, problem solving, and general management skills. Therefore, it is imperative that all CIS students be able to write and speak effectively in both qualitative and quantitative terms. CIS students must also have an understanding of the basic functions of an organization (e.g. marketing, production, finance, accounting and management).
Where are the jobs?
Business students concentrating in CIS will find positions as Web site developers, systems analysts, business application programmers, network administrators, database administrators, information technology managers, and end-user support specialists in a variety of businesses.
One area our graduates are finding nearly unlimited opportunities is in the deployment of E-Commerce. Other job opportunities that students studying CIS can apply for are:
- Business Application Programmer: converts the system design into an appropriate computer language and thoroughly tests the resulting code to ensure compliance with the design specifications.
- Database Analyst: familiar with organization's database structure and assists systems analysts and business programmers in developing or modifying applications that use the database.
- Data Administrator: interacts with top management, end users, and system developers for long range information planning and design. Responsible for improving database performance, ensuring the overall security of the database, and for providing training and support to users.
- Network Administrator: provides support for servers and network gear that serve the main web site. Monitors systems' health and efficiency, designs, implements, and maintains a security plan. Installs and sets up hardware, plans for future growth of the systems' infrastructure as the web site attracts more visitors and users. Leverage a solid understanding of the network operating system, performance tuning, patch maintenance, general troubleshooting, and strategic planning for recovery of lost data.
- Systems analysts: works closely with managers, software programmers, and computer users to pinpoint needs and reach goals. Integrates and upgrades systems and ensures that they run smoothly. Work closely with end-users to analyze needs and design an information system solution. May manage an entire information system development project.