Handbook on Business Process Management
An information system (IS) is a system composed of people and computers that processes or interprets information. The term is also sometimes used in more restricted senses to refer to only the software used to run a computerized database or to refer to only a computer system. The plural term information systems (construed as singular) is also used for the actual academic study of the field, in other words for the study of complementary networks of hardware and software that people and organizations use to collect, filter, process, create and distribute data. Any specific information system aims to support operations, management and decision making. In a broad sense, the term is used to refer not only to the information and communication technology (ICT) that an organization uses, but also to the way in which people interact with this technology in support of business processes. Some authors make a clear distinction between information systems, computer systems, and business processes. Information systems typically include an ICT component but are not purely concerned with ICT, focusing instead on the end use of information technology. Information systems are also different from business processes. Information systems help to control the performance of business processes. Alter argues for advantages of viewing an information system as a special type of work system. A work system is a system in which humans and/or machines perform work (processes and activities) using resources to produce specific products and/or services for customers. An information system is a work system whose activities are devoted to processing (capturing, transmitting, storing, retrieving, manipulating and displaying) information. As such, information systems inter-relate with data systems on the one hand and activity systems on the other. An information system is a form of communication system in which data represent and are processed as a form of social memory. An information system can also be considered a semi-formal language which supports human decision making and action. Information systems are the primary focus of study for organizational informatics.