Why study Information Systems

This page provides a brief introduction to the field of Information Systems as well as a list of the types of career opportunities that exist within the field.

An Introduction to Information Systems (IS)

Information Systems is not simply about computers, or learning how to use a popular computer package such as Microsoft Office. It’s about how businesses can make the best use of computer technology to provide the information needed to achieve their goals. In the same way as your own needs and priorities are unique to you, each organisation has different goals and requirements, and the successful implementation of information systems requires a thorough understanding of the business issues involved as well as the different technologies that are available.

The purpose of our courses is to provide you with a basic knowledge of the different elements of information systems: the building blocks that can be combined in a variety of different ways to suit particular business needs, and if it is your major, to build on this knowledge further.

Most of the time there is no single “correct answer”, and you will need to draw on your own knowledge and judgement when planning or using an information system. Naturally, the amount of knowledge that you can accumulate while studying Information Systems will assist in getting the best possible answer.

Perhaps the best way to show the importance of Information Systems is to consider the impact that it has on your own life. Try to imagine what your daily life would be like without Information Systems.  You might be able to survive without your student fee account, but can you imagine no television, no cell phones, no e-mail, the end of mass air travel as we know it today, or even the collapse of the banking system? Most of our lives would be affected dramatically. Now stop to consider the times when you have been irritated or frustrated by the inefficiency of a large department or organisation and you will see that technology alone is not the solution to business problems - computers are simply one element of a complete system intended to support the flow of information within a business environment.  People, data, and processes are the other parts of the pie that make up the whole. Students will, over the course of a few years, become more comfortable with these concepts of Information Systems.

Many students incorrectly think that Information Systems is just about programming, but in fact programming is a small (but important) part of developing information systems for organisations. It is for the student to decide if they want to continue further after the basic introduction to programming that they receive whilst studying Information Systems, or to focus on one of the many other areas of possible interest.

Sections of the above are sourced, and in part adapted, from an Information Systems e-book: Discovering Information Systems (p.1), which is freely available online at http://www.freetechbooks.com/about614.html

Career Opportunities

The advances in technology not only call for people who can work with the hardware and software (Information Technology Specialists), but also those individuals who have a sound understanding of how organisations make use of computers to function effectively and efficiently.  The ability to understand the various business processes and create a link between the users or customers and the technology is the primary role of the Information Systems Specialist.

Various career opportunities exist in the field of Information Systems.  Thus, students can find an area that interests them and pursue it further.  Although career opportunities are numerous, each one requires that a graduate possesses the following basic skills:

  • Analytical skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Problem identification skills
  • Report writing skills
  • Self-development skills
  • Time management skills

Career opportunities in the field of Information Systems include:

  • Systems or business analyst
  • Project manager
  • Information officer
  • Database administrator
  • Business intelligence
  • ICT consultant
  • Web design
  • Programmer
  • Systems architect

These offer freedom, personal growth, job satisfaction and an above average income from day one.  Our graduates have filled various roles in organisations, such as Business Analysts, Systems Analysts, SQL Specialists to name but a few.  Some have found employment at local companies such as Business Connexion, East London Computer Bureau (ELCB), Real People, and national and international companies such as BSG, Microsoft, and T-Systems.  There are also numerous opportunities to be found in government departments or parastatals such as Telkom and Eskom.

The Department will assist all Information Systems graduates, as far as possible, to secure employment opportunities, for example, by arranging internships which could lead to permanent employment and inviting potential employers to visit the Department and conduct interviews.  The level of success that a student will achieve will greatly rest upon the level to which they have mastered the basic skills listed earlier.