Information Systems is mostly concerned with the socio-technical systems comprising organizations and individuals that deploy information technology for business tasks. In a broader way, the Information Systems research discipline is concerned with examining Information Technology in use.
This field of research is exciting, broad, and multidisciplinary in nature. It is an exciting field of research because the speed of technological advancements in the area of information and communications hardware and software has not only been rapid but is continuing to rise at an enormous pace. A life without smart phones, Internet, social media platforms, and micro blogging seems unthinkable as of today – but these are all developments of just the past two decades. Yet, for many of us, it is hard to recall a time when information technology wasn’t as pervasive, ubiquitous, and vital in our business and private lives.
Given this high impact of Information Systems in our lives, it is not surprising that the study of information-technology-in-use has become an important topic area for academic scholars. It is not so much the fact that more and more researchers devote their attention to such issues, but rather that the way they attend to the challenges around the topic take so many different forms and touch upon various other topics from several disciplines. Scholars around the globe are addressing a variety of key questions pertaining to information systems, which include but are not limited to the following:
1. How do individuals use information technology?
2. How does information technology contribute to organizational performance?
3. How are organizations using information technology?
4. How can societal issues be resolved through information technology?
5. How can healthcare be assisted through information technology?
6. How do we use information technology for learning and for entertainment? How do the two interact?
7. How do we humans interact with information technology?
8. What role does information technology play in global markets and local governments?
9. How does information technology allow an organization to innovate its business processes?
10. How can information technology contribute to the greening of the planet?
11. How do humans build capabilities in dealing with information technologies and related issues?
One may already anticipate that seeking answers to these questions can take many forms, and the potential pathways to these and other questions are rooted in a variety of well-established fields of scientific inquiry. The below is but a list of the most prominent types of inquiry and by no means complete:
1. Scholars in information technology, software engineering, and computer science study the technical and computational attributes of information technology as such.
2. Scholars in behavioural, cognitive, and psychological sciences study individuals’ exposure, use, appropriation, and general behaviours within information technology domains.
3. Scholars in organisational science, management, and business study how corporate environments shape, and are shaped by, information technology.
4. Economists study the large-scale effects of information technology diffusion and innovation on organisations, markets, and societies.
As detailed above, the study of information-technology-in-use can be very diverse, leading to both the exciting and the challenging nature of this research field. It is exciting because research in this area is multi-faceted and comprehensive, yielding insights from a variety of perspectives and lenses, and in turn assists our knowledge of information systems in our lives in a most comprehensive and multifaceted way.
It is challenging because scholars working in this field are constantly exposed to a wide variety of theories, methods, approaches, and research frameworks originating from various other schools of research traditions. To be able to make sense of the research, and contribute over and above the current state of knowledge requires a scholar to learn, understand, critique, apply and extend multiple forms of inquiry, learn multiple theories on various levels of abstraction and complexity, and consider multiple approaches to research conduct.
The growth and advances in Information Technology (IT) have been stimulated by intense innovation and research efforts. Taking into consideration other research efforts in other industries, IT has shown to have one of the most funded research investments by organization and governments alike. This is due to the fact that IT and its services have become a critical resource for many organizations today driving profitability and boosting productivity.