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Management Information Systems (MIS) is an important discipline that combines business and computing to assist organizations in digitizing work and managing an increasingly remote workforce. MIS professionals have specialized knowledge in areas such as data analytics, software development, and project management, allowing them to assess and adopt new technologies to enhance business processes.

What is Management Information Systems (MIS)?

Management information systems (MIS) is a discipline that sits at the intersection of the business and computing disciplines. MIS is an increasingly important discipline as it supports organizations as they move from paper-based systems to computerized systems. The digital transformation of business data and processes requires employees with knowledge that spans across business domains, such as accounting, finance, and marketing; and across computing and information technology domains, such as software development, data science, and networking. The MIS discipline prepares students to assist organizations in digitizing work and managing an increasingly remote workforce.

Because information technology is ubiquitous across different organizational units and across aspects of everyday life, the MIS discipline allows students to specialize their knowledge. For example, students interested in data can focus on how to gather, store, and analyze business data. Database management and business analytics are important responsibilities of MIS professionals. Students interested in programming can focus on how to work with and manage computer scientists to design and develop software to support business professionals’ needs. Students interested in business strategy and operations can focus on how to use information technology to enhance strategy or make operations more safe, efficient, and effective. Students can focus on different areas of business to develop or utilize computerized systems for a particular business domain, such as accounting systems, financial systems, and marketing systems. The MIS discipline provides many different avenues for work.

MIS programs also prepare individuals to manage projects and think strategically about technology adoption. In particular, MIS prepares individuals to manage information technology projects. Because information technology is constantly evolving, students learn to manage projects in agile ways to help organizations maintain state-of-the-art computer systems to support business processes. Adopting or developing computerized systems to digitize and automate business processes requires thoughtful decision making. Students learn to assess the business value of technologies and the readiness of specific organizations to adopt new information technologies. Depending on the business context, some organizations may not be prepared or capable of adopting certain information technologies. MIS professionals assess business context and emerging technologies to build technical capabilities within organizations.

What do Information System Professionals do?

MIS professionals act as a crucial bridge between those in the organization with business-only knowledge and those in the organization with computing-only knowledge. Because the MIS discipline spans across a variety of business and computing domains, there are many different positions that an MIS graduate can hold.

Students interested in data and databases often start their careers as data analysts or database administrators. A data analyst works with data in the organization in its various formats, such as in spreadsheets and databases, to ensure the data is accessible for use in the organization’s computerized information systems. Data analysts and database administrators ensure that information is stored in an efficient format and presented in ways that assist business professionals in making good business decisions. Some data analysts may also assist in simple data science projects to help automate business decisions and provide insight statistics and machine learning to answer business professionals’ questions.

Students interested in business processes and software often start their careers as business analysts or systems analysts. A business/systems analyst works with business professionals or customers to improve business processes through the creation or adoption of information technologies. Business analysts must be able to speak with business professionals, understand their needs, and translate those needs into technical requirements that computer scientists can use to create or implement new systems. Although MIS professionals are not required to write computer code, some take roles as more technical systems analysts or software developers to write software code. The broad knowledge learned through an MIS degree opens many avenues for students.

As MIS professionals progress in their careers, they often take on project management roles. In these roles, they use their business and technical knowledge to work with data analysts, business analysts, computer scientists, business professionals, and other individuals to create or adopt information systems to support business needs. Project managers in the information technology space often rely on more agile techniques than project managers in other engineering areas.  

MIS professionals can also focus on specific business domains, such as accounting, finance, and marketing. All business domains are in need of individuals capable of adopting technologies to digitize and automate their processes. Many students choose to seek a double-major in MIS and another business discipline to prepare them to better use technology within a specific business domain. Students with a deep knowledge in MIS and another business domain can help to lead automation within that business domain as advances in technology like artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies emerge.

What Careers are there in Management Information Systems?

MIS professionals are in high demand across different industry segments and business units. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects MIS jobs to grow by more than 16% between 2021 and 2031. Organizations’ operations and processes are supported by computerized information systems. These systems and their associated processes must be developed, maintained, and improved. Many MIS graduates start as business analysts or data analysts. However, there are many other avenues for MIS majors depending on the interest of individual students. 

Students interested in information security can specialize in cyber security and work with cyber security professionals as security analysts to ensure that business data and systems are properly secured. MIS students interested in software development can specialize in computer science to prepare to create business systems, working as systems analysts, business analysts, or even software developers. MIS students with an interest in statistics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence can prepare to start in entry business analytics and data science roles to help organizations generate insights from the massive datasets that exist in organizations. Students who want to work with data without focusing on statistics and machine learning can become database administrators. Students may also specialize in the automation of business operations through the use of various automation technologies.

Career Opportunities for Management Information Systems Include:

  • computer and information systems manager
  • document management specialist
  • information security engineer
  • business management
  • business systems administration
  • client services
  • network administration
  • project management
  • software development
  • technical training and support
  • health Informatics Specialist
  • database Administrator

What Skills do Information System Professionals Need?

Information systems professionals require a variety of skills to act as a bridge between business units and the IT department within organizations. First, MIS professionals require a broad business acumen. Students need to understand how businesses operate with knowledge in accounting, finance, marketing, operations, and supply chain management. This knowledge helps MIS professionals identify technologies that can support business professionals. It also helps MIS professionals communicate technical topics to business professionals in a way they can understand. MIS professionals also need to understand business strategy to assess how existing and emerging information technologies can be utilized to improve the performance of organizations. Professionals must also learn how to manage projects in an agile manner to help the organization develop and adopt new technologies.

MIS professionals also require some technical skills. Many MIS professionals do not write programming code. However, it is useful for professionals to understand some programming so that they respect and understand how software is developed. This knowledge also allows MIS professionals to talk intelligently with computer scientists to solve business problems. MIS professionals also need to understand database technologies to ensure that business data is structured appropriate for data storage and retrieval. Depending on interest, MIS professionals can specialize in other technical areas, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, computer networking and cybersecurity, and business automation technology.

Some MIS professionals will focus more on developing a stronger business acumen with a basic understanding of information technology. Others will focus more on computing and information technology while ensuring a solid understanding of business. Job positions exist for professionals with differing levels of business and computing expertise.

The following skills are required for most jobs within the data science field. The extent to which particular skills are used on a day-to-day basis depends upon the position’s requirements.

  • Technical skills: IS professionals should be knowledgeable in various technologies and programming languages, including database management, software development, networking, cybersecurity, and cloud computing.
  • Analytical skills: They should be able to analyze complex data, identify patterns, and interpret trends to provide valuable insights for business decisions.
  • Communication skills: IS professionals need to be able to communicate effectively with both technical and non-technical stakeholders to explain technical concepts and findings in a clear and concise manner.
  • Problem-solving skills: IS professionals should have strong problem-solving skills to identify issues and devise creative solutions to address them.
  • Project management skills: They should be able to manage projects efficiently, set goals, and prioritize tasks to meet project deadlines.
  • Business acumen: IS professionals should understand the organization's business objectives and work closely with business leaders to align technology solutions with business goals.
  • Adaptability: The IT industry is constantly evolving, and IS professionals need to be flexible and adaptable to keep up with new technologies and changing business needs.
  • Collaboration: IS professionals should be able to work effectively in teams, collaborate with colleagues from different departments and backgrounds, and share their knowledge and expertise to achieve common goals.
  • Continuous learning: They should be committed to continuous learning, keeping up with the latest trends, and regularly upgrading their skills and knowledge to stay relevant in a rapidly changing industry.

What Tasks do Information System Professionals do?

Information systems professionals engage in a variety of tasks depending on their selected specialty. Regardless of specialty, information systems professionals manage projects by:

  • keeping track of users’ requirements
  • managing progress toward project objectives
  • tracking budgets
  • providing support to project teams

Those interested in data will work to design and maintain databases by using software or writing database queries directly. They may also work with business professionals from various business domains to identify important business questions that can be answered with data. 

Those interested in software will either research existing software solutions or develop custom solutions. Many organizations rely on existing software that is sourced from software vendors. Information systems professionals will assess the various vendors and vendor solutions to identify the most fitting solution for an organization. Those who seek to develop custom solutions will work with business professionals to identify important requirements for the software and then work with computer scientists to build, test, and deploy the software.

How Much do Information System Professionals Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, graduates who progress in their careers to become information systems managers make a median annual salary of $159,000. Many students who graduate with an undergraduate degree in Management Information Systems will earn between $60,000 and 80,000 in their starting positions. Top students can make far more than this though in their entry-level positions. Entry-level salaries tend to increase with specialized expertise. For example, an individual with solid technical skills and a specialization in a business domain like accounting or finance, such as a minor in accounting/finance or double major in MIS and accounting/finance, can earn more if they are willing to join consulting firms working on artificial intelligence or accounting automation projects. Similarly, MIS students with a specialization in computer science, such as a minor in computer science, can also earn higher salaries.

The Future of Management Information Systems

Currently, management information systems professionals focus on the use of enterprise resource planning systems to provide a centralized repository of business information to help business professionals make intelligent decisions faster. There is also an increase in the use of business analytics tools to help extract useful information from business data to make better decisions.

With increased investment in emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies, the future of MIS will focus on automating business decisions and processes, and gaining even deeper insight from business data. MIS professionals will help to lead the next industrial revolution to utilize artificial intelligence, blockchains, robotics, quantum computing, and other technologies to help organizations compete, open new markets, and reduce the costs of business operations. For example, MIS professionals will work with accountants to automate accounting audits to create continuous audits. They will assist marketing professionals identify the best marketing strategies based on marketing and customer data. They will help financial firms make better investment decisions through the use of artificial intelligence and other data-focused technologies. The possibilities for MIS professionals are broad and needed to support digital transformations within organizations globally.

Management Information Systems at Michigan Tech

Michigan Tech’s Management Information Systems major is housed in the College of Business. The AACSB-accredited program has a long history of success with a strong alumni network. Our placement rates are excellent with many students receiving 3-4 job offers upon graduation.

Our curriculum is designed to provide students with state-of-the art knowledge and flexibility to allow students to specialize in a number of areas. Beyond the traditional courses offered in MIS degrees (e.g., programming, databases, and agile project management), we provide students with opportunities to explore emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, business process automation technologies, and more. Some students explore technologies within particular business domains, such as accounting and finance through double majors. Other students focus on more technical aspects of MIS by taking coursework from the Mathematics Department or College of Computing. Students are encouraged to set their own path through the curriculum in consultation with faculty mentors.

The MIS curriculum at Michigan Tech is designed to be highly experiential in nature. You will work on many real-world projects, either designing new and innovative solutions to business problems and customer needs, or working with real clients to provide computing and business process solutions. Expect to learn through experience!