Information Systems: How We Define It, and Why Study It

by Haris Krijestorac on March 8, 2011

The blank stare I receive after telling any friend or relative what I’m studying has become a cliche among me and my fellow Information Systems students. When I first started in the field as an undergraduate 4 years ago, many of us didn’t even use the term ‘Information Systems’, calling ourselves Computer Science majors or at least defining ourselves in terms of our relation only to CS.

At the Carnegie Mellon undergraduate Information Systems program, we learned that IS was a mix of three elements: People, Processes, and Technology. More precisely, IS is the art of building bridges between these three fields. This ‘specific yet broad’ characterization is one of the things that continues to confuse people about IS.

People, Process, Technolgy

Partly due to this nature of the definition of IS, I would argue that IS is one of the most unique fields of study in that it allows people with expertise in the field to express their individuality through their work. These traits of IS are shared perhaps most with one set of disciplines: the Arts. In the same way that there is no ‘best’ painter, musician, or sculptor, there is no one who is the ‘best’ at Information Systems. Instead, there are those who are IS people and those who are not, similarly to how there are those only who are and are not artists.

Frankly speaking, when examining my peers, I don’t find that any one of us are the clearly the ‘best’. Rather, I find that we each have our own unique profile of talents that are more or less useful depending on the project at hand. These talents include coding in application development, online marketing, professional communication, graphic design, project management, databases, and others.

One of the things I enjoy most about being an IS guy is that I can focus on developing my unique profile among my peers in the field, rather than striving to fit the mold of someone who is the ‘best’. This is something I don’t see as much in other fields, apart from in the Arts. This trend of being unique or remarkable is one that I am also seeing in new businesses. As a result, I also see being an IS guy as the ideal business mindset molding process.


This post originated on Marketing Information Systems, a blog by Haris Krijestorac.

To continue learning how to better align technology, people, and processes for marketing success, subscribe to this blog and follow me on twitter.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Trung Nguyen December 2, 2015 at 12:34 am

Thanks for your poat. I am an undergrad student in IS, and I simply chose this major because I have a bit of knowledge about computer. I did not intend to find out about what IS really is until I start to lose interest about what I learned in school. It turns out that IS is broader than I think, to connect people process technology. The most part that I enjoy in your post was the Art, that no one will be the best in this field and everyone will approach this major in a unique way. Thanks again for your post, now I have a clear, big picture of what I have to learn and I am really in love with this major.

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