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Information Systems vs. Information Technology

Information systems (IS) and information technology (IT) are often considered synonymous. In reality, information technology is a subset of information systems. The perception that these terms can be used interchangeably can cause confusion for individuals interested in pursuing a technology-related career. Although both these fields deal with computers, they have distinct characteristics and specific career paths that require different education and training.

What is Information Systems?

Information systems is an umbrella term for the systems, people, and processes designed to create, store, manipulate, distribute and disseminate information. The field of information systems bridges business and computer science.

One of the reasons people may not distinguish between IS and IT is that they assume all information systems are computer-based systems. An information system, however, can be as simple as a pencil and a piece of paper. Separate, the objects are just tools. Used together, they create a system for recording information.

Although information systems are heavily reliant on computers and other technology-based tools, the term predates computers and can include non-technological systems. One example is management information systems, which use information such as a database to improve performance, create reports and make decisions.

Speaking of decisions, decision support systems are another example of an information system. Similarly, these systems use databases and commercial decision support to prepare business packages such as forecasting, linear programming and decision trees.

What is Information Technology?

Information technology falls under the IS umbrella but deals with the technology involved in the systems themselves. Information technology can be defined as the study, design, implementation, support or management of computer-based information systems.

IT typically includes hardware, software, databases, and networks. Information technology often governs the acquisition, processing, storage, and dissemination of digitized information, or data, generated through the disciplines of computing and telecommunications. Information technology focuses on managing technology and improving its utilization to advance overall business goals.

Information Systems vs. Information Technology

The difference between information systems and information technology is that information system incorporates the technology, people, and processes involved with information. Information technology is the design and implementation of information, or data, within the information system.

While both information technology and information systems will involve working with others, IS professionals are typically more integrated in using technology and other systems to accomplish business objectives. IT professionals, while serving an important function to the overall organization, are more focused on the machines and hardware and software systems.

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