Management information system(s) (MIS) refers to the complementary networks of hardware and software cooperating to collect, process, store, and disseminate information in order to support the managerial role of leveraging information technology to increase business value and profits. Management Information Systems can be used in that context for decision making, coordination, control, analysis, and visualization. MIS is a subset of Information Systems with its own numerous and increasingly specific subsets.
Management information systems as an academic discipline studies people, technology, organizations, and the relationships among them. Many business schools (or colleges of business within universities) have an MIS department, alongside other departments of related business disciplines, that award degrees (at the undergraduate, master, and/or doctoral levels) in management information systems.
MIS professionals help organizations to maximize the benefit from investments in personnel, equipment, and business processes.
While it can be contested that the history of management information systems date as far back as companies using ledgers to keep track of accounting, the modern history of MIS can be divided into five eras originally identified by Kenneth C. Laudon and Jane Laudon in their seminal textbook Management Information Systems.
The first era (mainframe and minicomputer computing) was ruled by IBM and their mainframe computers for which they supplied both the hardware and software. These computers would often take up whole rooms and require teams to run them. As technology advanced, these computers were able to handle greater capacities and therefore reduce their cost. Smaller, more affordable minicomputers allowed larger businesses to run their own computing centers in-house / on-site / on-premises.
The second era (personal computers) began in 1965 as microprocessors started to compete with mainframes and minicomputers and accelerated the process of decentralizing computing power from large data centers to smaller offices. In the late 1970s, minicomputer technology gave way to personal computers and relatively low-cost computers were becoming mass market commodities, allowing businesses to provide their employees access to computing power that ten years before would have cost tens of thousands of dollars. This proliferation of computers created a ready market for interconnecting networks and the popularization of the Internet. (The first microprocessor -- a four-bit device intended for a programmable calculator -- was introduced in 1971 and microprocessor-based systems were not readily available for several years. The MITS Altair 8800 was the first commonly known microprocessor-based system, followed closely by the Apple I and II. It is arguable that the microprocessor-based system did not make significant inroads into minicomputer use until 1979, when VisiCalc prompted record sales of the Apple II on which it ran. The IBM PC introduced in 1981 was more broadly palatable to business, but its limitations gated its ability to challenge minicomputer systems until perhaps the late 1980s to early 1990s.)
The third era (client/server networks) arose as technological complexity increased, costs decreased, and the end-user (now the ordinary employee) required a system to share information with other employees within an enterprise. Computers on a common network shared information on a server. This lets thousands and even millions of people access data simultaneously on networks referred to as Intranets.
The fourth era (enterprise computing) enabled by high speed networks, consolidated the original department specific software applications into integrated software platforms referred to as enterprise software. This new platform tied all aspects of the business enterprise together offering rich information access encompassing the complete management structure.
The fifth era (cloud computing) is the latest and employs networking technology to deliver applications as well as data storage independent of the configuration, location, or nature of the hardware. This, along with high speed cellphone and Wi-Fi networks, has led to new levels of mobility in which managers may access the MIS remotely with laptops, tablet computers and smartphones.
The terms management information systems (MIS), information system (IS) , enterprise resource planning (ERP), computer science, electrical computer engineering, and information technology management (IT) are often confused. MIS is a hierarchical subset of information systems. MIS are more organization-focused narrowing in on leveraging information technology to increase business value. Computer science is more software-focused dealing with the applications that may be used in MIS. Electrical computer engineering is product-focused mainly dealing with the architecture behind computer systems. ERP software is a subset of MIS and IT management refers to the technical management of an IT department which may include MIS.
While management information systems can be used by any and every level of management, the decision of which systems to implement generally falls upon the chief information officers (CIO) and chief technology officers (CTO). These officers are generally responsible for the overall technology strategy of an organization including evaluating how new technology can help their organization. They act as decision makers in the implementation process of new MIS.
Once decisions have been made, IT directors, including MIS directors, are in charge of the technical implementation of the system. They are also in charge of implementing the policies affecting the MIS (either new specific policies passed down by the CIOs or CTOs or policies that align the new systems with the organizations overall IT policy). It is also their role to ensure the availability of data and network services as well as the security of the data involved by coordinating IT activities.
Upon implementation, the assigned users will have the appropriate access to relevant information. It is important to note that not everyone inputting data into MIS need necessarily be management level. It is common practice to have inputs to MIS be inputted by non-managerial employees though they rarely have access to the reports and decision support platforms offered by these systems.
The following are types of information systems used to create reports, extract data, and assist in the decision making processes of middle and operational level managers.
The following are some of the benefits that can be attained using MIS: