The complexity of Management Information Systems

One side project I've assigned myself, above and beyond completing my PhD, is doing some research in the history of MIS. Most of this research has largely focused on the technology, but I've dabbled in the history of ideas and how they've played a role in advancing solutions to technology problems. One of the things I've stumbled over is how to incorporate changes in Management practices, either preceeding IT advances, or enabled by IT. I also need to integrate communication research and ideas into the overall framework. The problem is that each of these areas are vast, overlapping and complicated. This in turn challenges me to envision a systematic method for sharing this knowledge once I complete my project. The complexity of this field, pulling ideas from so many disciplines, makes it difficult to present the material in a essentialized, focused approach that doesn't overload the students.

I imagine an Intro to MIS class should spend approxately 1/3 of the time on the history of IT, starting from its roots in the first written language, down through the printing press, the first mechanical computer, the telephone, radio, telegraph, and finally to the electrical computers and communications we see today.

The next 1/2 of class should be spent examing current issues in Management if Information systems, customer relationship, supply chain management, ERP, e-commerce, etc. This issues should help put IT into the context of the organization and help students to see how these technologies enable increased productivity.

The last 1/6 of class should be spent on the future of MIS. This last part will examine trends, such as Moore's Law, and potential technologies that might transform the way we think about information technology, business, and life in general.


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