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Management Information System Terms (R-T)


query language: Software tool that provides immediate online answers to requests for information that are not predefined.

radio-frequency identification (RFID): Technology using tiny tags with embedded microchips containing data about an item and its location to transmit short-distance radio signals to special RFID readers that then pass the data on to a computer for processing.

RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks): Disk storage technology to boost disk performance by packaging more than 100 smaller disk drives with a controller chip and specialized software in a single large unit to deliver data over multiple paths simultaneously.

RAM (Random Access Memory): Primary storage of data or program instructions that can directly access any randomly chosen location in the same amount of time.

Rapid Application Development (RAD): Process for developing systems in a very short time period by using prototyping, fourth-generation tools, and close teamwork among users and systems specialists.

rational model: Model of human behavior based on the belief that people, organizations, and nations engage in basically consistent, value-maximizing calculations.

rationalization of procedures: The streamlining of standard operating procedures, eliminating obvious bottlenecks, so that automation makes operating procedures more efficient.

reach: Measurement of how many people a business can connect with and how many products it can offer those people.

real options pricing models: Models for evaluating information technology investments with uncertain returns by using techniques for valuing financial options.

record: A group of related fields.

recovery-oriented computing: Computer systems designed to recover rapidly when mishaps occur.

Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC): Technology used to enhance the speed of microprocessors by embedding only the most frequently used instructions on a chip.

reintermediation: The shifting of the intermediary role in a value chain to a new source.

relational DBMS: A type of logical database model that treats data as if they were stored in two-dimensional tables. It can relate data stored in one table to data in another as long as the two tables share a common data element.

Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI): Occupational disease that occurs when muscle groups are forced through repetitive actions with high-impact loads or thousands of repetitions with low-impact loads.

Request for Proposal (RFP): A detailed list of questions submitted to vendors of software or other services to determine how well the vendor’s product can meet the organization’s specific requirements.

resource allocation: The determination of how costs, time, and personnel are assigned to different phases of a systems development project.

responsibility: Accepting the potential costs, duties, and obligations for the decisions one makes.

reverse logistics: The return of items from buyers to sellers in a supply chain.

richness: Measurement of the depth and detail of information that a business can supply to the customer as well as information the business collects about the customer.

ring network: A network topology in which all computers are linked by a closed loop in a manner that passes data in one direction from one computer to another.

risk assessment: Determining the potential frequency of the occurrence of a problem and the potential damage if the problem were to occur. Used to determine the cost/benefit of a control.

Risk Aversion Principle: Principle that one should take the action that produces the least harm or incurs the least cost.

ROM (Read-Only Memory): Semiconductor memory chips that contain program instructions. These chips can only be read from; they cannot be written to.

router: Specialized communications processor that forwards packets of data from one network to another network.

rule base: The collection of knowledge in an AI system that is represented in the form of IF-THEN rules.


safe harbor: Private self-regulating policy and enforcement mechanism that meets the objectives of government regulations but does not involve government regulation or enforcement.

Sales and marketing information systems: Systems that help the firm identify customers for the firm’s products or services, develop products and services to meet their needs, promote these products and services, sell the products and services, and provide ongoing customer support.

satellite: The transmission of data using orbiting satellites that serve as relay stations for transmitting microwave signals over very long distances.

scalability: The ability of a computer, product, or system to expand to serve a larger number of users without breaking down.

scoring model: A quick method for deciding among alternative systems based on a system of ratings for selected objectives.

search-based advertising: Payment to a search service to display a sponsored link to a company’s Web site as a way of advertising that company.

search costs: The time and money spent locating a suitable product and determining the best price for that product.

search engine: A tool for locating specific sites or information on the Internet.

secondary storage: Relatively long term, nonvolatile storage of data outside the CPU and primary storage.

security: Policies, procedures, and technical measures used to prevent unauthorized access, alteration, theft, or physical damage to information systems.

selection construct: The logic pattern in programming where a stated condition determines which of two alternative actions can be taken.

Semantic web: Collaborative effort led by the World Wide Web Consortium to make Web searching more efficient by reducing the amount of human involvement in searching for and processing web information.

semistructured knowledge: Information in the form of less structured objects, such as e-mail, chat room exchanges, videos, graphics, brochures, or bulletin boards.

semistructured knowledge system: System for organizing and storing less structured information, such as e-mail, voice mail, videos, graphics, brochures, or bulleting boards. Also known as digital asset management system.

senior managers: People occupying the topmost hierarchy in an organization who are responsible for making long-range decisions.

sensitivity analysis: Models that ask “what-if” questions repeatedly to determine the impact of changes in one or more factors on the outcomes.

sequence construct: The sequential single steps or actions in the logic of a program that do not depend on the existence of any condition.

server: Computer specifically optimized to provide software and other resources to other computers over a network.

server farm: Large group of servers maintained by a commercial vendor and made available to subscribers for electronic commerce and other activities requiring heavy use of servers.

service platform: Integration of multiple applications from multiple business functions, business units, or business partners to deliver a seamless experience for the customer, employee, manager, or business partner.

shopping bot: Software with varying levels of built-in intelligence to help electronic commerce shoppers locate and evaluate products or service they might wish to purchase.

six sigma: A specific measure of quality, representing 3.4 defects per million opportunities; used to designate a set of methodologies and techniques for improving quality and reducing costs.

smart card: A credit-card-size plastic card that stores digital information and that can be used for electronic payments in place of cash.

smart phone: Wireless phone with voice, text, and Internet capabilities.

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol): Set of rules that allows Web services applications to pass data and instructions to one another.

social engineering: Tricking people into revealing their passwords by pretending to be legitimate users or members of a company in need of information.

sociotechnical design: Design to produce information systems that blend technical efficiency with sensitivity to organizational and human needs.

software metrics: The objective assessments of the software used in a system in the form of quantified measurements.

software package: A prewritten, precoded, commercially available set of programs that eliminates the need to write software programs for certain functions.

source code: Program instructions written in a high-level language that must be translated into machine language to be executed by the computer.

spam: Unsolicited commercial e-mail.

spreadsheet: Software displaying data in a grid of columns and rows, with the capability of easily recalculating numerical data.

spyware: Technology that aids in gathering information about a person or organization without their knowledge.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Formal rules for accomplishing tasks that have been developed to cope with expected situations.

star network: A network topology in which all computers and other devices are connected to a central host computer. All communications between network devices must pass through the host computer.

Storage Area Network (SAN): A high-speed network dedicated to storage that connects different kinds of storage devices, such as tape libraries and disk arrays so they can be shared by multiple servers.

Storage Service Provider (SSP): Third-party provider that rents out storage space to subscribers over the Web, allowing customers to store and access their data without having to purchase and maintain their own storage technology.

storage technology: Physical media and software governing the storage and organization of data for use in an information system.

stored value payment systems: Systems enabling consumers to make instant on-line payments to merchants and other individuals based on value stored in a digital account.

strategic decision making: Determining the long-term objectives, resources, and policies of an organization.

strategic information systems: Computer systems at any level of the organization that change goals, operations, products, services, or environmental relationships to help the organization gain a competitive advantage.

strategic transitions: A movement from one level of sociotechnical system to another. Often required when adopting strategic systems that demand changes in the social and technical elements of an organization.

strategic-level systems: Information systems that support the long-range planning activities of senior management.

streaming technology: Technology for transferring data so that they can be processed as a steady and continuous stream.

structure chart: System documentation showing each level of design, the relationship among the levels, and the overall place in the design structure; can document one program, one system, or part of one program.

structured: Refers to the fact that techniques are carefully drawn up, step by step, with each step building on a previous one.

structured analysis: A method for defining system inputs, processes, and outputs and for partitioning systems into subsystems or modules that show a logical graphic model of information flow.

structured decisions: Decisions that are repetitive, routine, and have a definite procedure for handling them.

structured design: Software design discipline encompassing a set of design rules and techniques for designing systems from the top down in hierarchical fashion.

structured knowledge: Knowledge in the form of structured documents and reports.

structured knowledge system: System for organizing structured knowledge in a repository where it can be accessed throughout the organization. Also known as content management system.

structured programming: Discipline for organizing and coding programs that simplifies the control paths so that the programs can be easily understood and modified; uses the basic control structures and modules that have only one entry point and one exit point.

Structured Query Language (SQL): The standard data manipulation language for relational database management systems.

subschema: The specific set of data from the database that is required by each user or application program.

supercomputer: Highly sophisticated and powerful computer that can perform very complex computations extremely rapidly.

supply chain: Network of organizations and business processes for procuring materials, transforming raw materials into intermediate and finished products, and distributing the finished products to customers.

supply chain execution systems: Systems to manage the flow of products through distribution centers and warehouses to ensure that products are delivered to the right locations in the most efficient manner.

supply chain management: Integration of supplier, distributor, and customer logistics requirements into one cohesive process.

supply chain management systems: Information systems that automate the flow of information between a firm and its suppliers in order to optimize the planning, sourcing, manufacturing, and delivery of products and services.

supply chain planning systems: Systems that enable a firm to generate demand forecasts for a product and to develop sourcing and manufacturing plans for that product.

support activities: Activities that make the delivery of a firm’s primary activities possible. Consist of the organization’s infrastructure, human resources, technology, and procurement.

switched lines: Telephone lines that a person can access from a terminal to transmit data to another computer, the call being routed or switched through paths to the designated destination.

switching costs: The expense a customer or company incurs in lost time and expenditure of resources when changing from one supplier or system to a competing supplier or system.

syndicator: Business aggregating content or applications from multiple sources, packaging them for distribution, and reselling them to third-party Web sites.

system failure: An information system that either does not perform as expected, is not operational at a specified time, or cannot be used in the way it was intended.

system software: Generalized programs that manage the computer’s resources, such as the central processor, communications links, and peripheral devices.

system testing: Tests the functioning of the information system as a whole in order to determine if discrete modules will function together as planned.

systematic decision makers: Cognitive style that describes people who approach a problem by structuring it in terms of some formal method.

systems analysis: The analysis of a problem that the organization will try to solve with an information system.

systems analysts: Specialists who translate business problems and requirements into information requirements and systems, acting as liaison between the information systems department and the rest of the organization.

systems design: Details how a system will meet the information requirements as determined by the systems analysis.

systems development: The activities that go into producing an information systems solution to an organizational problem or opportunity.

systems lifecycle: A traditional methodology for developing an information system that partitions the systems development process into formal stages that must be completed sequentially with a very formal division of labor between end users and information systems specialists.


T1 line: A dedicated telephone connection comprising 24 channels that can support a data transmission rate of 1.544 megabits per second. Each channel can be configured to carry voice or data traffic.

tacit knowledge: Expertise and experience of organizational members that has not been formally documented.

tangible benefits: Benefits that can be quantified and assigned a monetary value; they include lower operational costs and increased cash flows.

taxonomy: Method of classifying things according to a predetermined system.

teamware: Group collaboration software that is customized for teamwork.

technostress: Stress induced by computer use; symptoms include aggravation, hostility toward humans, impatience, and enervation.

telecommunications system: A collection of compatible hardware and software arranged to communicate information from one location to another.

teleconferencing: The ability to confer with a group of people simultaneously using the telephone or electronic-mail group communication software.

Telnet: Network tool that allows someone to log on to one computer system while doing work on another.

test plan: Prepared by the development team in conjunction with the users; it includes all of the preparations for the series of tests to be performed on the system.

testing: The exhaustive and thorough process that determines whether the system produces the desired results under known conditions.

touch point: Method of firm interaction with a customer, such as telephone, e-mail, customer service desk, conventional mail, or point-of-purchase.

topology: The way in which the components of a network are connected.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): Designates the total cost of owning technology resources, including initial purchase costs, the cost of hardware and software upgrades, maintenance, technical support, and training.

Total Quality Management (TQM): A concept that makes quality control a responsibility to be shared by all people in an organization.

trade secret: Any intellectual work or product used for a business purpose that can be classified as belonging to that business, provided it is not based on information in the public domain.

transaction cost theory: Economic theory stating that firms grow larger because they can conduct marketplace transactions internally more cheaply than they can with external firms in the marketplace.

Transaction Processing Systems (TPS): Computerized systems that perform and record the daily routine transactions necessary to conduct the business; they serve the organization’s operational level.

transborder data flow: The movement of information across international boundaries in any form.

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP): Dominant model for achieving connectivity among different networks. Provides a universally agree-on method for breaking up digital messages into packets, routing them to the proper addresses, and then reassembling them into coherent messages.

transnational: Truly global form of business organization with no national headquarters; value-added activities are managed from a global perspective without reference to national borders, optimizing sources of supply and demand and local competitive advantage.

Trojan horse: A software program that appears legitimate but contains a second hidden function that may cause damage.

tuple: A row or record in a relational database.

twisted wire: A transmission medium consisting of pairs of twisted copper wires; used to transmit analog phone conversations but can be used for data transmission.

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