Over the past several hundred years, society has experienced dramatic improvements in how information systems are used to create, store, and evaluate data. Modern society depends heavily on information systems to help improve efficiency in both daily routines and work related tasks. A few of the most prominent forms of these types of systems include things like smart phones, tablet computers, and the internet.
Nearly every household, in developed countries, has between three and five computers operating at any given time. These computers link to a vast network of hardware and software that supports a tremendous amount of virtual collaboration. The business community has also adopted highly complex information systems that occupy entire warehouses and dramatically improve the way operations are carried out. While many people are now born into a society that understands computers well, it was not that long ago when complex computer systems were a fantasy.
Information systems have not always been as high-tech and fast paced as they are today. In fact, it has taken many years for technology to advance to the point where it is now. Some of the oldest evidence of the use of information systems traces its origin back to textile mills that began operating in France in the early eighteenth century. In those days, business operators used stiff sheets of paper to store data that could be used to operate machinery. These pieces of paper were referred to as punch cards and they utilized a series of holes punched through the paper to input data into primitive information systems. Surprisingly, a modern form of the punch card could be seen in the electoral process as recent as 2012. Many people are familiar with the process of punching holes in a card that contains a list of political candidates. These cards are then collected and tabulated in order to determine a winner.
The volatile and relatively inefficient nature of the punch card system gradually gave way to a far more versatile type of information system known as a database. A database is a magnetized storage medium that uses a series of rows and columns to store data that is related in some way. A relatively well-known database that can be found in all modern computers is commonly referred to as a hard drive. This piece of hardware can store vast quantities of information and is fairly resistant to destruction. Because of its durability and versatility, the hard drive is often referred to as a non-volatile storage medium. The data contained on a hard drive can be retrieved by using read/write heads.
The advent of information systems gave rise to many new occupational opportunities that have gradually evolved along with technology. The fact that information systems are created using hardware and software means that these systems are subject to mechanical failure and require ongoing maintenance in order to remain in operation. Over the years, career opportunities developed which involve the creation, maintenance, and utilization of advanced information systems. One of the most recent career developments in this industry involves the application of technology to real world business problems.
Individuals who are interested in the technical aspects of computer science and who want to use their knowledge of technology to help improve business operations and solve real world problems are in high demand within the commercial sector and are often able to command very lucrative salaries. Because the business community has expressed a need for tech savvy administrators, many colleges and universities have developed a degree track that combines computer science courses with the traditional business administration degree. This new degree program is often referred to as the Management Information Systems (MIS) Degree.