Information Systems: Foundation of E-Business (4th Edition)

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9780130617736: Information Systems: Foundation of E-Business (4th Edition)

THE REALITY BEHIND SYSTEM SUCCESS...Steven Alter's Information Systems: Foundation of E-Business, fourth edition, emphasizes the essential role information systems play in today's successful businesses. Viewing information systems from a business perspective, is essential for understanding how e-commerce and e-business really work and for appreciating why technology is not a magic bullet that solves all problems. Most current business practices rely on IT, but successful application of any technology involves much more than the technology itself. Today's managers need a way to understand and evaluate the impact and use of technology in their businesses. This book is an indispensable tool for business and IT students because it: *provides a rigorous, yet non-technical approach, that any manager, executive, or business professional can use to visualize and analyze system-related opportunities and problems that confront almost every company in today's economy. *presents a practical, straightforward approach for attaining business results, recognizing possibilities, and avoiding the wasted time and effort consumed by technology initiatives that never achieve their goals.*combines the vocabulary of today's technologies with problem solving tools and methods that business and IT students can continue to use in the future. This text's updated coverage of the work system framework and principles, e-business and e-commerce, value and supply chains, ERP systems, networks, and system security, help explain how technology applications make a difference. Its companion web site (www.prenhall.com/alter) extends the book's coverage. The balance of theory and practice in this text makes Information Systems: Foundation of E-Business, fourth edition, a resource that business and IT students can use even after new generations of technology have replaced those of today.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Steven Alter is Professor of Information Systems at the University of San Francisco. He holds a B.S. in Mathematics and Ph.D. in Management Science, both from MIT. While on the faculty of the University of Southern California, he revised his Ph.D. thesis and published it as Decision Support Systems: Current Practice and Continuing Challenges, one of the first books on this type of information system. Professor Alter's journal articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, MIS Quarterly, Communications of the ACM, Communications of AIS, TIMS Studies in Management Sciences, Interfaces, Data Processing, Futures, and The Futurist.

Prior to joining the University of San Francisco, he served for eight years as a founding vice president of Consilium, Inc. (acquired by Applied Materials in 1998). He participated in building and implementing early versions of manufacturing software used by major semiconductor and electronics manufacturers in the United States, Europe, and Asia. His many roles included starting departments for customer service, documentation and training, technical support, and product management.

Upon returning to academia he decided to work on a problem he observed in industry, the difficulty business people have in articulating what they expect from computerized systems and how these systems can or should be used to change the way work is done. His initial efforts in this area led to the 1992 publication of the first edition of this text. The subsequent editions have benefited from additional research on how business professionals understand information systems. His related articles in Communications of AIS, the online journal of the Association for Information Systems include:

  • "A General, Yet Useful Theory of Information Systems" (March, 1999)
  • "Same Words, Different Meanings: Are Basic IS/IT Concepts Our Self-Imposed Tower of Babel?" (April, 2000)
  • "Are the Fundamental Concepts of Information Systems Mostly about Work Systems?" (April, 2001)

His hobbies include music, hiking, skiing, yoga, and international travel. He is a member of the Larkspur Trio Dot Com, which occasionally presents reasonably proficient amateur performances of trios for violin, cello, and piano. One enthusiastic reviewer raved, "They certainly played up to their potential." The photo was taken while he was traveling to ICIS 2000, the International Conference on Information Systems in Brisbane, Australia, for which he organized a debate entitled "Does the Trend toward E-Business Call for Changes in the Fundamental Concepts of Information Systems?" Despite coaxing, the koala seemed to have no views on this topic.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Now, like it or not, "e" stands for everything: e-banking, e-books, e-travel,
e-training, e-entertainment, and even e-engineering.

The "e" in e-business will soon be irrelevant.

E-business is rapidly becoming a way of life. It's our perspective that the name
for e-business in the year 2000 will simply be: business.

Information Systems, Foundation of E-Business, is the new name of this fourth edition of a book whose first three editions were called Information Systems, A Management Perspective. This edition retains its management flavor, but it also emphasizes and integrates the significant trends toward e-business and e-commerce that have become pervasive in the last few years.

E-BUSINESS: WHY THE MESSENGER ISN'T THE MESSAGE

In a few short years, e-business grew from an IBM advertising campaign into a tidal wave of hope and hype mixed with fear and uncertainty about becoming obsolete or being blindsided by unknown competitors. The seeds of e-business have evolved continually over almost five decades since the first computer applications in business. Back in the 1960s "e" was the first letter in electronic data processing (EDP). Later it was the first letter in electronic mail (e-mail) and electronic data interchange (EDI). The Web arrived in the early 1990s and it brought new forms of electronic commerce (e-commerce). And now we have e-business, which leapt to prominence when an IBM advertising campaign popularized e-business as an umbrella term for a long-term trend.

The day before IBM's e-business ad campaign appeared on Oct. 7, 1997, the Wall Street Journal said Louis Gerstner, IBM's CEO, wanted "to position IBM as a cutting-edge company and shake off for good its image as a stodgy, if reliable, supplier of computers to giant corporations." Within several months an Information Week article noted that anyone who hadn't been in Fiji for the past few months had doubtless heard the latest computer industry buzz phrase: electronic business. Today "e" is everywhere. Open a newspaper, listen to a strategy consultant's sales pitch, learn about the latest NASDAQ IPO and the discussion almost can't avoid mentioning e-business, e-commerce, e-enterprise, e-economy, and e-just about anything else.

Although "e" is often associated with the Internet, the long history of EDP, e-mail, EDI, and e-commerce shows that the Internet is not the message even if it is the latest electronic messenger. The message is about work systems that make extensive use of computer and communication technologies in order to perform work more efficiently, satisfy new and existing customer desires, and allow people to live more interesting and fulfilling lives. The message is full of optimism and hope, but the reality has been mixed. Applications of technology have enabled processes and products that would have been impossible without today's cost-effective technology. Unfortunately some technology applications have also led to problems and disappointments.

Information systems are the foundation of e-business because e-business is really about making extensive use of computer and communication technologies in critical business processes. Some of these uses are directed within the firm, such as designing products, coordinating value added work, and integrating across an enterprise. Others are associated with e-commerce, such as selling and providing service through electronic links. Yet others, such as supply chain management and customer relationship management, span the firm and its business partners. More and more of today's important work systems are inextricably linked to the information systems that support them. Most of today's important work systems in large organizations rely on information systems so completely that they cannot operate efficiently without the information systems. Increasingly, if the information system goes down, so does the work system. And from the other direction, it is increasingly obvious that the purpose and effectiveness of most information systems can be understood mainly in terms of their direct role in work systems.

In summary, I renamed this book Information Systems: Foundation of E-Business to emphasize the essential role of information systems in the systems through which today's businesses operate.

  • Businesses operate through work systems.
  • Work systems increasingly use e-business approaches.
  • Information systems are the foundation of e-business.

The implications for a business professional are clear. Anyone who intends to play an important role in today's business needs to understand information systems in order to understand the work systems through which organizations operate. Anyone who lacks this understanding will be at a great disadvantage. Today's business professionals need more than the ability to do personal work on a computer and a general familiarity with business and technical terms. Contributing fully to current organizations requires an ability to participate in e-business systems, evaluate them, and contribute to system development efforts. This requires an organized approach for thinking about systems, an approach that can be used successfully today and will still be valid five or ten years from now when today's technical and business terms are no longer at the cutting edge.

WHAT'S THE HEADLINE

Books related to information systems and e-business are often written from one of two viewpoints. Either business issues are the headline or technology is the headline. Major choices in writing this book reflect its emphasis on business even though the technology topics are covered thoroughly:

  • The book is organized around a framework that business professionals can use for visualizing any computerized or non-computerized system in any organization. The basic unit of analysis is the work system, a system in which human participants and/or machines perform a business process using information, technology, and other resources to produce products and/or services for internal or external customers. This unit of analysis is appropriate for today's business professionals for a number of reasons:
    • Information systems are actually work systems.
    • E-business systems are actually work systems.
    • Information systems exist to support other work systems.
    • Information systems are increasingly integrated with the work systems they support.
    • Information system projects are actually time-limited work systems.
    In other words, the concept of work system is like a common denominator covering most situations in which information systems are built or used. Having a central conceptual core makes it much easier to understand the importance of the many business and technical terms that constitute the vocabulary of information systems.

  • The coverage of the work system framework, system-related principles, and the general topic of how to think about systems from a business viewpoint appear at the beginning of the book, not the end or in an isolated chapter about "problem solving." Accordingly, Chapters 1 and 2 introduce the framework and explain how business professionals can analyze systems for themselves. The chapters that follow discuss the elements of a work system, the business process (3), information and databases (4), customers and products (6), human and ethical issues (7), and technology (8, 9, and 10). The other chapters discuss types of information systems (5) and topics related to building and maintaining information systems (11, 12, 13).


  • Wherever there is a choice, topics are presented with a business emphasis rather than a technology emphasis. For example, the discussion of databases appears in Chapter 4 as part of a discussion of information and databases, rather than in a later chapter grouped around technology headings such as computer hardware, software, and telecommunications. Similarly, intranets and extranets are introduced in Chapter 5, Types of Information Systems, as part of a discussion of information systems that support communication activities. Later, Chapter 10, Networks and Telecommunications, discusses telecommunications applications and common types of networks before delving into important technical topics that business professionals should be familiar with.

WHAT'S NEW

The changes in this new edition include an improved representation of the work system framework, introduction of principle-based analysis of systems, integration of e-business and e-commerce topics, and updating to include many topics that were not as important when the previous edition was published.

Improved representation of the work system framework
As in the previous edition, this edition establishes a framework for describing a system and applies that framework to a chapter opening case to make sure the organizing principles and basic concepts are always apparent. This edition goes further by providing an improved version of the framework used in the previous edition. This framework has been renamed the work system framework (instead of the WCA framework) to emphasize that the analysis of computerized and non-computerized systems should start from a core of ideas related to work systems. Context and infrastructure have been added as elements of the framework. This reflects the reality that work system success depends on issues in the surrounding context and on the operation of infrastructure that is not owned or controlled within the work system. Adding these two elements to the framework makes it much easier to explain how to think about a system from a business viewpoint. The previous edition looked at a single framework from five different perspectives, and some readers found that too cumbersome. The new approach eliminates the idea of five separate perspectives and makes it easier to focus on what the system is, how well it operates, and how it might be improved.

...

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