BIS vs. MIS: Information Systems Explained

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Information systems are essential for modern businesses. Today’s organizations run on information, and keeping that information organized and accessible is mandatory to maintain efficient operations. Yet when developing strategies for information systems, some executives struggle to answer one of the most fundamental questions: Are business information systems and management information systems the same thing?

The answer, in short, is no. Business information systems (BIS) and management information systems (MIS) are related, but there are critical differences that executives need to know when building strategy and teams for handling their business information infrastructure.

What Is BIS?

Business information systems is a complex field that interweaves the needs of information, people, and technological systems. Professionals associated with BIS are tasked with finding solutions to a wide range of business problems through various disciplines, from management practices to computer science. Thus, to work in the BIS field, professionals must have advanced knowledge and experience with business intelligence and analytics as well as boast well-honed problem-solving and communication skills.

BIS is becoming more and more integral to the efficient operation of organizations as businesses come to rely more heavily on digital systems at every level. Increasingly, every worker in an organization needs access to information to perform their duties, but as remote work grows in popularity — and as cybersecurity becomes a primary concern — information systems must be robust, flexible, organized, and secure.

In the past, responsibilities associated with creating and maintaining business information systems were often rolled into the duties of the regular IT team, but as information systems have grown, they have outpaced the knowledge, skills, and schedule of basic IT. Today, effective BIS requires a business information systems degree, which combines education about business operations with an in-depth study of technological systems and data science. 

What Is MIS?

Management information systems focus on information, people, and technological systems—just like BIS. MIS combines knowledge of digital technologies, data, and people to improve business leaders’ ability to make decisions and solve problems with the result of cultivating greater success for the entire organization—just like BIS. The primary difference between MIS and BIS is that management information systems are primarily focused on data management: how data is collected, how data is used, and how data is secured across the organization.

Another aspect of the “management” label of MIS is that MIS tends to benefit the management level of an organization more than other levels of staff. Reports created by MIS professionals serve to inform the decision-making processes of business leaders and executives, who rely on ample and accurate information to solve problems, improve efficiency and overall achieve success for the organization. Like BIS, MIS is best overseen by trained professionals, though because MIS and BIS fields are so closely related, both MIS and BIS professionals can function in MIS-related roles.

Why Do Most Organizations Need Both?

In most circles, MIS is considered a subfield of BIS, but some within MIS believe that BIS is an offshoot of MIS. Regardless, it is important for an organization to devote IT resources to both BIS and MIS, especially if leaders hope to continue finding success as they advance into the 21st century.

Gone are the days when traditional, analog, and manual business practices could survive in the market. Big Data is an absolute necessity for effective business competition, but data alone is incomprehensible and messy. Organizations need comprehensive systems for organizing and utilizing data — which means they need BIS and MIS.

Because BIS and MIS are so closely linked to many other existing business operations—IT, data science, project management, and more—many executives may be tempted to roll the responsibilities associated with BIS and MIS into other roles. However, the growing importance of data in business strategy and operations means that the manner in which data is collected, stored, and accessed will have a greater impact on the performance of staff. By investing in both BIS and MIS, organizations allow themselves greater opportunities for efficiency and success even as they grow.

Almost every business leader working today agrees that information systems are the future of business operations. By creating space in an organization for professionals knowledgeable and experienced in both BIS and MIS, a business will continue to survive and thrive.

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