What is information management when compared to computer science? The real difference is in application. While computer scientists are focused on science, mathematics, and a technical approach to computing, information systems is more focused on individual and organizational development. This typically involves using the programming created by computer scientists.

How does this relate to information systems in the real world? There are four ways that information systems management and IT is revolutionizing and driving innovation. Within those methods is the answer to what exactly information systems management is and why it matters.


Big data is important, but big data is made up of many nano data sets. It is these data sets that are most valuable when your company wants to measure the effectiveness of a campaign, get to know customers better, and measure the quality of products and services. This measurement can also be used to determine weaknesses in supply chains, ways to improve employee productivity, and more.

Where does this nano data come from? This is data such as clickstream data, Google trends, detailed email data, along with the thousands of bits of data that are generated by enterprise planning systems.

“Even without any conscious effort on the part of the designers, this information is just generated,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, Schussel Family Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and director of the MIT Center for Digital Business in an interview about the rising data flood. “By studying these data very carefully, companies can have much better knowledge of their customers, of their business processes, of their product quality and of defects of their supply chains.”

This type of data use and measurement is often used in stock trading to analyze and measure trends and price changes. The reason information systems is so vital is that to be accurate, traders need a tremendous volume of data over a wide breadth, but often this is made up of several nano data sets about specific companies.


Beyond measurement and observation is experimentation. What if a marketing company could test many different pages with customers at one time, and could easily measure the outcome of using each? Everything from bounce rates to click through to conversions can all be recorded for analysis with the right information systems management platform.

This is most obvious in big online retailers like Amazon and eBay or social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Different pages, app formats, and algorithms are tested on individuals, and whichever ones perform the best are then implemented. Instead of A/B testing, there can be A/B/C/D testing and beyond. The capability is more dependent on budget and the size of the audience the company can experiment with.

The ability to experiment and do so quickly without waiting weeks or even months for feedback is huge to ongoing innovation in business, and it is all due to information management systems.


Sharing data is huge; sharing insights is bigger. Information management has radically changed the way we do this over the last decade, and the more advanced things get, the faster data can be analyzed. This sharing of insights is one of the keys to innovation going forward.

An example of sharing insights and analysis can be seen in the government, and places like the National Security Agency (NSA). The NSA gathers data from multiple sources, like other government agencies, and shares it with law enforcement like the FBI, DEA, and other parts of the justice department. But it is about more than just data. The NSA hires analysts and uses various information management techniques to offer insights and share those as well.

On a business level, this sharing of insight allows technology to advance at a faster rate, as experimentation and analysis does not have to be duplicated. Information systems management drives sharing which in turn drives innovation. Think of the process of app development for different platforms, and how sharing of insights speeds this process, taking apps from concept to market much more quickly

This shortening of the development period saves companies hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars, and it is all due to the ability to share innovation.


Once an innovation has been verified to work well, rolling it out used to be much more of a challenge, but with information systems technology, replication is both fast and easy. This means scaling is much simpler than it once was.

Harrah’s casino is a company that is using information systems management all four of these ways. Employees do experiments about which incentives get people to play more expensive machines, and what methods work for better waitstaff customer service. These are recorded and then shared, and executives make them a part of company policy going forward.

Other companies are using this same approach to scaling ideas, including Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Google, and others. The ability to take innovation and spread it company wide in a short period of time means greater profitability and quicker “bug fixes” when something does go wrong.

Information systems management is made up of measurement, experimentation, sharing, and replication, all of which come together to drive knowledge and innovation. This simple definition offers the basis on which all information management will be built on going forward.

By Noah Rue

About the author

Noah Rue is a writer, a digital nomad, an ESL teacher, and an all around good dude, if he doesn’t say so himself.