Management Information System Terms (A-D)


acceptance testing: Provides the final certification that the system is ready to be used in a production setting.

access control: Policies and procedures to prevent improper access to systems.

access point: Box consisting of a radio receiver/transmitter and antennae that link to a wired network, router, or hub.

accountability: The mechanisms for assessing responsibility for decisions made and actions taken.

accounting rate of return on investment (ROI ): Calculation of the rate of return on an investment by adjusting cash inflows produced by the investment for depreciation. Approximates the accounting income earned by the investment.

accumulated balance digital payment systems: Systems enabling users to make micropayments and purchases on the Web, accumulating a debit balance on their credit card or telephone bills.

activity-based costing: Model for identifying all the company activities that cause costs to occur while producing a specific product or service so that managers can see which products or services are profitable or losing money and make changes to maximize firm profitability.

administrative controls: Formalized standards, rules, procedures, and disciplines to ensure that the organization’s controls are properly executed and enforced.

agency theory: Economic theory that views the firm as a nexus of contracts among self-interested individuals who must be supervised and managed.

AI shell: The programming environment of an expert system.

analog signal: A continuous waveform that passes through a communications medium; used for voice communications.

analytical CRM: Customer relationship management applications dealing with the analysis of customer data to provide information for improving business performance.

antivirus software: Software designed to detect, and often eliminate, computer viruses from an information system.

application controls: Specific controls unique to each computerized application.

application server: Software that handles all application operations between browser-based computers and a company’s back-end business applications or databases.

application service provider (ASP): Company providing software that can be rented by other companies over the Web or a private network.

application software package: A set of prewritten, precoded application software programs that are commercially available for sale or lease.

application software: Programs written for a specific application to perform functions specified by end users.

arithmetic-logic unit (ALU): Component of the CPU that performs the computer’s principal logic and arithmetic operations.

artificial intelligence (AI): The effort to develop computer-based systems that can behave like humans, with the ability to learn languages, accomplish physical tasks, use a perceptual apparatus, and emulate human expertise and decision making.

asynchronous transfer mode (ATM): A networking technology that parcels information into 8-byte cells, allowing data to be transmitted between computers from different vendors at any speed.

attribute: A piece of information describing a particular entity.

authentication: The ability of each party in a transaction to ascertain the identity of the other party.

automation: Using the computer to speed up the performance of existing tasks.


backbone: Part of a network handling the major traffic and providing the primary path for traffic flowing to or from other networks.

backward chaining: A strategy for searching the rule base in an expert system that acts like a problem solver by beginning with a hypothesis and seeking out more information until the hypothesis is either proved or disproved.

balanced scorecard: Model for analyzing firm performance which supplements traditional financial measures with measurements from additional business perspectives, such as customers, internal business processes, and learning and growth.

bandwidth: The capacity of a communications channel as measured by the difference between the highest and lowest frequencies that can be transmitted by that channel.

banner ad: A graphic display on a Web page used for advertising. The banner is linked to the advertiser’s Web site so that a person clicking on it will be transported to the advertiser’s Web site.

batch processing: A method of collecting and processing data in which transactions are accumulated and stored until a specified time when it is convenient or necessary to process them as a group.

baud: A change in signal from positive to negative or vice versa that is used as a measure of transmission speed.

behavioral models: Descriptions of management based on behavioral scientists’ observations of what managers actually do in their jobs.

benchmarking: Setting strict standards for products, services, or activities and measuring organizational performance against those standards.

best practices: The most successful solutions or problem-solving methods that have been developed by a specific organization or industry.

biometric authentication: Technology for authenticating system users that compares a person’s unique characteristics such as fingerprints, face, or retinal image, against a stored set profile of these characteristics.

bit: A binary digit representing the smallest unit of data in a computer system. It can only have one of two states, representing 0 or 1.

bluetooth: Standard for wireless personal area networks that can transmit up to 722 Kbps within a 10-meter area.

broadband: High-speed transmission technology. Also designates a single communications medium that can transmit multiple channels of data simultaneously.

bugs: Program code defects or errors.

bullwhip effect: Distortion of information about the demand for a product as it passes from one entity to the next across the supply chain.

bundling: Cross-selling in which a combination of products is sold as a bundle at a price lower than the total cost of the individual products.

bureaucracy: Formal organization with a clear-cut division of labor, abstract rules and procedures, and impartial decision making that uses technical qualifications and professionalism as a basis for promoting employees.

bureaucratic models of decision making: Models of decision making where decisions are shaped by the organization’s standard operating procedures (SOPs).

bus network: Network topology linking a number of computers by a single circuit with all messages broadcast to the entire network.

business continuity planning: Planning that focuses on how the company can restore business operations after a disaster strikes.

business functions: Specialized tasks performed in a business organization, including manufacturing and production, sales and marketing, finance and accounting, and human resources.

business intelligence: Applications and technologies that focus on gathering, storing, analyzing, and providing access to data from many different sources to help users make better business decisions.

business model: An abstraction of what an enterprise is and how the enterprise delivers a product or service, showing how the enterprise creates wealth.

business process management: Methodology for revising the organization’s business processes to use business processes as fundamental building blocks of corporate information systems.

business process reengineering: The radical redesign of business processes, combining steps to cut waste and eliminating repetitive, paper-intensive tasks in order to improve cost, quality, and service, and to maximize the benefits of information technology.

business processes: The unique ways in which organizations coordinate and organize work activities, information, and knowledge to produce a product or service.

business-to-business (B2B) electronic commerce: Electronic sales of goods and services among businesses.

business-to-consumer (B2C) electronic commerce: Electronic retailing of products and services directly to individual consumers.

byte: A string of bits, usually eight, used to store one number or character in a computer system.


C: A powerful programming language with tight control and efficiency of execution; is portable across different microprocessors and is used primarily with PCs.

C ++: Object-oriented version of the C programming language.

cable modem: Modem designed to operate over cable TV lines to provide high-speed access to the Web or corporate intranets.

call center: An organizational department responsible for handling customer service issues by telephone and other channels.

capacity planning: The process of predicting when a computer hardware system becomes saturated to ensure that adequate computing resources are available for work of different priorities and that the firm has enough computing power for its current and future needs.

capital budgeting: The process of analyzing and selecting various proposals for capital expenditures.

carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS): Type of RSI in which pressure on the median nerve through the wrist’s bony carpal tunnel structure produces pain.

case-based reasoning (CBR): Artificial intelligence technology that represents knowledge as a database of cases and solutions.

CD-ROM (compact disk read-only memory): Read-only optical disk storage used for imaging, reference, and database applications with massive amounts of unchanging data and for multimedia.

CD-RW (CD-ReWritable): Optical disk storage that can be rewritten many times by users.

cellular telephone: A device that transmits voice or data, using radio waves to communicate with radio antennas placed within adjacent geographic areas called cells.

central processing unit (CPU): Area of the computer system that manipulates symbols, numbers, and letters, and controls the other parts of the computer system.

centralized processing: Processing that is accomplished by one large central computer.

change agent: In the context of implementation, the individual acting as the catalyst during the change process to ensure successful organizational adaptation to a new system or innovation.

channel conflict: Competition between two or more different distribution chains used to sell the products or services of the same company.

channel: The link by which data or voice are transmitted between sending and receiving devices in a network.

chatting: Live, interactive conversations over a public network.

chief information officer (CIO): Senior manager in charge of the information systems function in the firm.

chief knowledge officer (CKO): Senior executive in charge of the organization’s knowledge management program.

choice: Simon’s third stage of decision making, when the individual selects among the various solution alternatives.

churn rate: Measurement of the number of customers who stop using or purchasing products or services from a company. Used as an indicator of the growth or decline of a firm’s customer base.

classical model of management: Traditional description of management that focused on its formal functions of planning, organizing, coordinating, deciding, and controlling.

clicks-and-mortar: Business model where the Web site is an extension of a traditional bricks-and-mortar business.

clickstream tracking: Tracking data about customer activities at Web sites and storing them in a log.

client: The user point-of-entry for the required function in client/server computing. Normally a desktop computer, workstation, or laptop computer.

client/server computing: A model for computing that splits processing between clients and servers on a network, assigning functions to the machine most able to perform the function.

clustering: Linking two computers together so that the second computer can act as a backup to the primary computer or speed up processing.

coaxial cable: A transmission medium consisting of thickly insulated copper wire; can transmit large volumes of data quickly.

COBOL (COmmon Business Oriented Language): Major programming language for business applications because it can process large data files with alphanumeric characters.

cognitive style: Underlying personality dispositions toward the treatment of information, selection of alternatives, and evaluation of consequences.

collaborative commerce: The use of digital technologies to enable multiple organizations to collaboratively design, develop, build and manage products through their life cycles.

collaborative filtering: Tracking users’ movements on a Web site, comparing the information gleaned about a user’s behavior against data about other customers with similar interests to predict what the user would like to see next.

collaborative planning, forecasting, and replenishment (CPFR): Firms collaborating with their suppliers and buyers to formulate demand forecasts, develop production plans, and coordinate shipping, warehousing, and stocking activities.

communications technology: Physical devices and software that link various computer hardware components and transfer data from one physical location to another.

competitive forces model: Model used to describe the interaction of external influences, specifically threats and opportunities, that affect an organization’s strategy and ability to compete.

compiler: Special system software that translates a high-level language into machine language for execution by the computer.

complementary assets: Additional assets required to derive value from a primary investment.

component-based development: Building large software systems by combining pre-existing software components.

computer: Physical device that takes data as an input, transforms the data by executing stored instructions, and outputs information to a number of devices.

computer abuse: The commission of acts involving a computer that may not be illegal but are considered unethical.

computer crime: The commission of illegal acts through the use of a computer or against a computer system.

computer forensics: The scientific collection, examination, authentication, preservation, and analysis of data held on or retrieved from computer storage media in such a way that the information can be used as evidence in a court of law.

computer hardware: Physical equipment used for input, processing, and output activities in an information system.

computer literacy: Knowledge about information technology, focusing on understanding of how computer-based technologies work.

computer software: Detailed, preprogrammed instructions that control and coordinate the work of computer hardware components in an information system.

computer virus: Rogue software programs that are difficult to detect which spread rapidly through computer systems, destroying data or disrupting processing and memory systems.

computer vision syndrome (CVS): Eyestrain condition related to computer display screen use; symptoms include headaches, blurred vision, and dry and irritated eyes.

computer-aided design (CAD): Information system that automates the creation and revision of designs using sophisticated graphics software.

computer-aided software engineering (CASE): Automation of step-by-step methodologies for software and systems development to reduce the amounts of repetitive work the developer needs to do.

computer-based information systems (CBIS): Information systems that rely on computer hardware and software for processing and disseminating information.

conceptual schema: The logical description of the entire database showing all the data elements and relationships among them.

connectivity: The ability of computers and computer-based devices to communicate with each other and share information in a meaningful way without human intervention..

consumer-to-consumer (C2C): electronic commerce Consumers selling goods and services electronically to other consumers.

control unit: Component of the CPU that controls and coordinates the other parts of the computer system.

controls: All of the methods, policies, and procedures that ensure protection of the organization’s assets, accuracy and reliability of its records, and operational adherence to management standards.

converged network: Network with technology to enable voice and data to run over a single network.

conversion: The process of changing from the old system to the new system.

cookies: Tiny file deposited on a computer hard drive when an individual visits certain Web sites. Used to identify the visitor and track visits to the Web site.

cooptation: Bringing the opposition into the process of designing and implementing a solution without giving up control of the direction and nature of the change.

copyright: A statutory grant that protects creators of intellectual property against copying by others for any purpose for a minimum of 70 years.

core competency: Activity at which a firm excels as a world-class leader.

core systems: Systems that support functions that are absolutely critical to the organization.

cost-benefit ratio: A method for calculating the returns from a capital expenditure by dividing total benefits by total costs.

counterimplementation: A deliberate strategy to thwart the implementation of an information system or an innovation in an organization.

critical success factors (CSFs): A small number of easily identifiable operational goals shaped by the industry, the firm, the manager, and the broader environment that are believed to assure the success of an organization. Used to determine the information requirements of an organization.

cross-selling: Marketing complementary products to customers.

customer-decision-support system (CDSS): System to support the decision-making process of an existing or potential customer.

customer lifetime value (CLTV): Difference between revenues produced by a specific customer and the expenses for acquiring and servicing that customer minus the cost of promotional marketing over the lifetime of the customer relationship, expressed in today’s dollars.

customer relationship management (CRM): Business and technology discipline that uses information systems to coordinate all of the business processes surrounding the firm’s interactions with its customers in sales, marketing, and service.

customer relationship management systems: Information systems that track all the ways in which a company interacts with its customers and analyze these interactions to optimize revenue, profitability, customer satisfaction, and customer retention.

customization: The modification of a software package to meet an organization’s unique requirements without destroying the package software’s integrity.



data: Streams of raw facts representing events occurring in organizations or the physical environment before they have been organized and arranged into a form that people can understand and use.

data administration: A special organizational function for managing the organization’s data resources, concerned with information policy, data planning, maintenance of data dictionaries, and data quality standards.

data definition language: The component of a database management system that defines each data element as it appears in the database.

data dictionary: An automated or manual tool for storing and organizing information about the data maintained in a database.

data-driven DSS: A system that supports decision making by allowing users to extract and analyze useful information that was previously buried in large databases.

data element: A field.

data flow diagram (DFD): Primary tool for structured analysis that graphically illustrates a system’s component process and the flow of data between them.

data inconsistency: The presence of different values for same attribute when the same data are stored in multiple locations.

data management software: Software used for creating and manipulating lists, creating files and databases to store data, and combining information for reports.

data manipulation language: A language associated with a database management system that end users and programmers use to manipulate data in the database.

data mart: A small data warehouse containing only a portion of the organization’s data for a specified function or population of users.

data quality audit: A survey and/or sample of files to determine accuracy and completeness of data in an information system.

data redundancy: The presence of duplicate data in multiple data files.

data security controls: Controls to ensure that data files on either disk or tape are not subject to unauthorized access, change, or destruction.

data visualization: Technology for helping users see patterns and relationships in large amounts of data by presenting the data in graphical form.

data warehouse: A database, with reporting and query tools, that stores current and historical data extracted from various operational systems and consolidated for management reporting and analysis.

data workers: People such as secretaries or bookkeepers who process the organization’s paperwork.

database: A group of related files.

database (rigorous definition): A collection of data organized to service many applications at the same time by storing and managing data so that they appear to be in one location.

database administration: Refers to the more technical and operational aspects of managing data, including physical database design and maintenance.

database management system (DBMS): Special software to create and maintain a database and enable individual business applications to extract the data they need without having to create separate files or data definitions in their computer programs.

database server: A computer in a client/server environment that is responsible for running a DBMS to process SQL statements and perform database management tasks.

dataconferencing: Teleconferencing in which two or more users are able to edit and modify data files simultaneously.

datamining: Analysis of large pools of data to find patterns and rules that can be used to guide decision making and predict future behavior.

debugging: The process of discovering and eliminating the errors and defects–bugs–in program code.

decisional roles: Mintzberg’s classification for managerial roles where managers initiate activities, handle disturbances, allocate resources, and negotiate conflicts.

decision-support systems (DSS): Information systems at the organization’s management level that combine data and sophisticated analytical models or data analysis tools to support semistructured and unstructured decision making.

dedicated lines: Telephone lines that are continuously available for transmission by a lessee. Typically conditioned to transmit data at high speeds for high-volume applications.

demand planning: Determining how much product a business needs to make to satisfy all its customers’ demands.

denial of service (DoS) attack: Flooding a network server or Web server with false communications or requests for services in order to crash the network.

dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM): Technology for boosting transmission capacity of optical fiber by using many different wavelengths to carry separate streams of data over the same fiber strand at the same time.

Descartes’ rule of change: A principle that states that if an action cannot be taken repeatedly, then it is not right to be taken at any time.

design: Simon’s second stage of decision making, when the individual conceives of possible alternative solutions to a problem.

desktop publishing software: Software for producing professional-quality documents with capabilities for design, layout, and work with graphics.

development methodology: A collection of methods, one or more for every activity within every phase of a development project.

digital cash: Currency that is represented in electronic form that moves outside the normal network of money.

digital certificate: An attachment to an electronic message to verify the identity of the sender and to provide the receiver with the means to encode a reply.

digital checking: Systems that extend the functionality of existing checking accounts so they can be used for online shopping payments.

digital credit card payment system: Secure services for credit card payments on the Internet that protect information transmitted among users, merchant sites, and processing banks.

digital divide: Large disparities in access to computers and the Internet among different social groups and different locations.

digital firm: Organization where nearly all significant business processes and relationships with customers, suppliers, and employees are digitally enabled, and key corporate assets are managed through digital means.

digital market: A marketplace that is created by computer and communication technologies that link many buyers and sellers.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA): Adjusts copyright laws to the Internet Age by making it illegal to make, distribute, or use devices that circumvent technology-based protections of copy-righted materials.

digital signal: A discrete waveform that transmits data coded into two discrete states as 1-bits and 0-bits, which are represented as on-off electrical pulses; used for data communications.

digital signature: A digital code that can be attached to an electronically transmitted message to uniquely identify its contents and the sender.

digital subscriber line (DSL): A group of technologies providing high-capacity transmission over existing copper telephone lines.

digital video disk (DVD): High-capacity optical storage medium that can store full-length videos and large amounts of data.

digital wallet: Software that stores credit card, electronic cash, owner identification, and address information and provides this data automatically during electronic commerce purchase transactions.

direct cutover: A risky conversion approach where the new system completely replaces the old one on an appointed day.

disaster recovery planning: Planning for the restoration of computing and communications services after they have been disrupted.

disintermediation: The removal of organizations or business process layers responsible for certain intermediary steps in a value chain.

distance learning: Education or training delivered over a distance to individuals in one or more locations.

distributed database: A database that is stored in more than one physical location. Parts or copies of the database are physically stored in one location, and other parts or copies are stored and maintained in other locations.

distributed processing: The distribution of computer processing work among multiple computers linked by a communications network.

documentation: Descriptions of how an information system works from either a technical or end-user standpoint.

domain name: The name identifying a unique node on the Internet.

Domain Name System (DNS): A hierarchical system of servers maintaining database enabling the conversion of domain names to their IP addresses.

domestic exporter: Form of business organization characterized by heavy centralization of corporate activities in the home county of origin.

downsizing: The process of transferring applications from large computers to smaller ones.

downtime: Period of time in which an information system is not operational.

drill down: The ability to move from summary data to lower and lower levels of detail.

DSS database: A collection of current or historical data from a number of applications or groups. Can be a small PC database or a massive data warehouse.

DSS software system: Collection of software tools that are used for data analysis, such as OLAP tools, datamining tools, or a collection of mathematical and analytical models.

due process: A process in which laws are well-known and understood and there is an ability to appeal to higher authorities to ensure that laws are applied correctly.

Dynamic page generation: Technology for storing the contents of Web pages as objects in a database where they can be accessed and assembled to create constantly changing Web pages.

dynamic pricing: Pricing of items based on real-time interactions between buyers and sellers that determine what a item is worth at any particular moment.