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Information Systems Glossary:
Activity-based costing (ABC)
Advanced encryption standard
American National Standards
American Standard Code for
A system of connecting computers on a LAN using
twisted-pair cable. The method relies on compression
to increase raw transfer rates to 10 megabits per
Operation of an application or database 24 hours a
day, 7 days a week. Because the database can never
be shut down, performing maintenance is a
A measure of disk drive speed. Loosely, the time it
takes a disk drive to move to a particular piece of
Raw financial transaction data are collected by the
accounting department and stored in a journal.
Modern accounting requires the use of a double-entry
system to ensure accurate data.
ABC allocates costs by examining a detailed
breakdown of the production activities. The cost of
each process is computed for each different product.
The detail provides a better picture of the production
cost for each item.
A new U.S. standard for single-key encryption.
Approved in 2001 by the government to replace DES
and triple DES. With 128 bit keys, it is substantially
more difficult to break; but still very fast to encrypt
Someone in MIS, usually the chief information officer,
who bears responsibility for exploring and presenting
new applications and uses of MIS within the company.
An object-oriented program designed for networks
that is written to perform specific tasks in response to
user re-iquests. Agents are designed to automatically
communicate with other agents to search for data
and make decisions.
An organization responsible for defining many
standards, including several useful information
American standard code for information interchange.
A common method of numbering characters so that
they can be processed. For instance, the letter A is
Application service provider
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Asynchronous Transfer Mode
number 65. It is slowly being replaced by the ANSI
character set table and the use of international code
pages that can display foreign characters.
An individual who provides a limited amount of
funding to start-up firms. Unlike a partner, the
investor is rarely involved in management. The
amount of funding is generally small— $25,000 to
A variety of laws that make it illegal to use monopoly
power. Some basic (economic) actions to achieve a
competitive advantage are illegal. Strategic plans
must be evaluated carefully to avoid violating these
A software tool for developers that helps build
software applications. It is usually associated with a
DBMS but several standalone tools exist to help
create new forms and reports.
A specialized Internet firm that provides an individual
application to other businesses. For example, a
reservation system can be run by an ASP to provide
services to other companies.
An attempt to build machines that can think like
humans. Techniques evolved from this research help
solve more complex problems. Useful techniques
include expert systems, neural networks, massively
parallel computers, and robotics.
Used to define the ratio of width to height in display
screens. Standard definition TV was typically 6:4
(such as 640 x 480). HDTV is generally 16:9 (such as
1920 x 1080). Movies sometimes use a 1.85:1 ratio
which is slightly wider than the HDTV 1.77: 1.
Models are simplifications of real life, so they require
assumptions about various events or conditions.
A packet-based network system that uses high-speed
transmission lines (150 megabits and over) and
routers to maximize network efficiency and
Descriptions of an object or entity. For example, a
customer object would at least have attributes for
name, phone number, and address.
In an e-commerce context, a Web-based system
where individuals bid for items. Useful when you do
not know the exact value of an item or have only a
few items to sell. The auction site helps handle
Barriers to entry
Symbolic Instruction Code
payments but charges a percentage fee.
The ability to trace any transaction back to its source.
In accounting, transaction values are accumulated on
the general ledger and used to create reports. An
audit trail is a set of marks or records to point back to
the original transaction.
A display of a real-world scene with computer-
generated data added to it. The computer data often
adds names, descriptions, or drawings. For instance,
a phone camera might be used to display a scene and
tags are added to identify points of interest.
The ability to verify the source of a message. Dual-
key systems are a useful technique. The sender uses
a private key to encrypt the message. The recipient
applies the sender's public key. If the decrypted
message is readable, it had to have come from the
alleged sender, because the keys always work in
A high-speed communication line that links multiple
sub-networks. It is usually a fiber-optic line.
In an expert system, the user enters a "conclusion"
and asks to see whether the rules support that
Traditionally, the amount of frequency allocated to a
communication channel, such as the portion of the
spectrum allocated to a single radio or television
station. But, the term is commonly used to indicate
the basic capacity or transmission speed of a
communication channel. For example, 20 megabits
per second instead of 5 megahertz.
On a shared network, a small percentage of users will
transmit vastly more data than the average user. ISPs
often define pricing methods to penalize heavy users
to ensure that more bandwidth or capacity is
available for all users.
Anything that makes it more difficult for new firms to
enter an industry. Several possibilities would violate
antitrust laws. An acceptable barrier is the increased
use of information systems, which raises the cost of
entering an industry because a rival would have to
spend additional money on information technology.
An early computer programming language designed
to be easy to program and to teach. Visual Basic is a
current version for Windows programming.
Bill of materials
Bill presentation and payment
A set of routines or actions used to evaluate
computer performance. By performing the same basic
tasks on several machines, you can compare their
relative speeds. Benchmarks are especially useful
when the machines use different processors and
different input and output devices.
Methods that are known to work for solving specific
problems. Most problems, including those in software
development, have multiple solutions. Best practices
are a collection of techniques for solving problems
that have been tested and avoid common mistakes
A portion of a SQL statement used to specify a lower
and upper bound in a WHERE clause. Commonly used
for dates, such as Order-date BETWEEN Ol-Jan-2008
Used in manufacturing, it is a list of components used
to manufacture a finished product. In an ERP system,
data from it is often used to trigger inventory
deductions and to add the finished product to
Web-based software that automatically displays bills
and invoices for customers. The payment side accepts
various forms of payment including credit cards and
electronic checks. Generally run as a Web service.
A collection of ones and zeros called bits. Computer
processors operate only on binary data. All data
forms are first converted to binary.
A field of study that is trying to determine how to
identify people based on biological characteristics.
The most common devices are fingerprint and hand-
The smallest unit of data in a computer. All data is
converted to bits or binary data. Each bit can be in
one of two states: on or off. Bits are generally
aggregated into collections called a byte.
A method of storing images. The picture is converted
to individual dots that are stored as bits. Once a
picture is stored in bitmap form, it is difficult to re-
size. However, bitmaps are good for displaying
photographic images with subtle color shading.
Web log. Say it fast and you can hear the
abbreviation. A special type of Web site with software
that makes it easy for a user to enter comments.
Board of directors
Typically used as a daily journal.
A short-range wireless network technology invented
by IBM. It is most commonly used for cell-phone
devices such as headsets. The data transmits a 1
mbps up to 32 feet. It is one of the few network
protocols to automatically encrypt the data. Newer
versions offer higher data rates.
A group of people paid to oversee and evaluate the
decisions of the company. Technically the CEO reports
to the board of directors, but they are charged more
with reviewing the CEO's decisions. Most boards have
the authority to remove a CEO, but many board
members are selected by the CEO.
Searching for data by using the logic operators AND,
OR, and NOT conditions in a WHERE statement; for
example, find a list of customers where city =
"Detroit" and age > 50 and do not own a car.
An approach to designing and building systems in
which workers build system components to solve each
problem as it arises. Eventually the pieces are
combined to create an integrated system. The
method relies on standards and controls to facilitate
cooperation and integration. See also top-down
A group technique in which each individual is asked to
come up with possible suggestions to a problem. Any
ideas are useful, regardless of how wild they are.
Even fanciful ideas could stimulate someone else to
improve it or to explore a related area.
A report that organizes output by sections that are
based on the data values. Common business
examples include reports by customer or employee,
where data for each person is displayed in a group.
The section of a break or group report that displays
subtotals for the data within the group. See also
The section of a break or group report that displays
the column headings for the data within the group.
See also break.
A technique of transmitting messages using radio,
micro, or infrared waves. Broadcast messages are
sent to all devices in a certain area. Others in the
vicinity can also receive the messages.
A software tool that converts World Wide Web data
Bulletin board system (BBS)
Business process management
Business to business (B2B)
Business to consumer (B2C)
into a graphical page with hypertext links. Using
standard (HTML) commands, companies can offer
data and additional links to users. Users simply click
on individual words and pictures to retrieve additional
data and move to other network sites.
An attack on encrypted data that attempts to use
every possible key. Can be stopped by using very
long keys. For example, using a key or password of
only three letters means there are only
26*26*26=17,576 possible values. Even a slow
computer can test all combinations in a few seconds.
Similar to a typical bulletin board, except that people
access it from computers. The BBS enables users to
store comments, pictures, and files for other people
to retrieve. Bulletin boards are usually organized by
topics and can be searched for specific phrases or
comments. They are a useful way to disseminate
information that is of interest to many different
Most computers have special slots called a bus to
provide high-speed connections to other devices.
Various manufacturers make boards that fit into these
slots. The processor can exchange data with these
other devices, but performance is sometimes
constrained by the design of the bus.
A network organizing scheme in which each computer
is attached to a common transmission medium.
Protocols are needed to determine when a machine
can transmit and to recover from collisions.
Also see work-flow software. The concept that
business actions have to be performed in a specific
sequence. Managing the process entails finding
efficiencies through automating or reordering. For
example, purchasing expensive items requires
discussions and approvals by a variety of managers.
Business-to-business electronic commerce; sales by
suppliers to other businesses over the Internet; often
long-term relationships. See B2C and EDI.
Business-to-consumer electronic commerce;
purchases by individual consumers similar to
traditional mail-order systems, but conducted on
secure Web sites over the Internet.
A collection of bits. Traditionally, 8 bits make up one
byte. From binary arithmetic, an 8-bit byte can hold 2
Capability maturity model
Collision Detection (CSMA/CD)
Catalog management system
to the 8th power, or 256, possible numbers. In many
systems a byte is used to hold one character.
A powerful programming language that is flexible and
creates efficient code. A language commonly used to
build complex applications and to create commercial
An object-oriented extension of the C programming
language. It is commonly used to build commercial
software. It produces efficient code and supports the
development of reusable objects.
An Internet connection device that translates local
area network protocols to run over a television cable
line. It can provide transmission speeds around 1.5
Mbps. But the communication line is shared with
A buffer between the processor and a slow-ier device
such as a print-ier, disk drive, or memory chips. The
cache generally consists of high-speed memory. Data
is transferred in bulk to the cache. It is then pulled
out as it is needed, freeing up the processor to work
on other jobs instead of waiting for the slower device
The U.S. Act that makes it illegal to send commercial
e-mail messages to people who do not want to
receive them. For business, the key is that it makes
e-mail messages legal, as long as all of the rules are
A system designed at the Carnegie Mellon Software
Engineering Institute to help organizations improve
their software development processes. A key element
is to work toward a formal development model that is
measurable and is continually upgraded. The CMMI
system is an upgrade of the older CMM process.
A communications protocol that determines how
computers will behave on a shared-medium network.
Ethernet protocols rely on CSMA/CD. Other
alternatives are Token Ring and packet switching.
An expert system approach that records information
in the form of situations and cases. Users search for
cases similar to their current problem and adapt the
A software tool that holds product descriptions,
images, and prices to simplify changing and
uploading data to a Web site. It makes it easier to
Certificate authority (CA)
track thousands of products to ensure the Web site
data is correct.
Compact disk-read only memory. Data is stored and
retrieved with a laser. A special machine is required to
create data on a CD-ROM. Used to hold data that
does not change very often. Useful for multimedia
applications because a disk can hold about 650
megabytes of data. The format used to store music
A business scheme for performing most operations
and making management decisions from one location
in an organization. MIS organization can be examined
in four areas: hardware, software, data, and
personnel. See also decentralization.
Dual-key encryption and authentication require that
the public key be published and available to others. A
certificate authority is an organization that validates
the owner's identity, issues the keys, and runs the
public directory. Almost anyone can run the software
to be a CA, but others must trust that host.
Vendors provide exams to test workers in their
specific technologies and offer a certificate so that
potential employers can be sure that job applicants
possess a defined level of knowledge. Common
certifications include Cisco (networks) and Microsoft
(server administration and development). The
industry constantly argues over whether certifications
Objects or people who cause or facilitate changes.
Sometimes the change agent might be a new
employee who brings fresh ideas; other times change
can be mandated by top-level management.
Sometimes an outside event such as a competitor or
a hurricane forces an organization to change.
Concepts or products that have altered the way
businesses operate. Classic examples include bar
code scanners in retail stores, hand-held mini-
terminals or notebooks by delivery firms and sales-
people, and reservation systems by travel and
A scheme for charging other internal departments for
services. For example, some firms charge
departments a fee based on how often they use the
central computer. The goal is to ration a limited
Chart of accounts
Chief executive officer (CEO)
Chief information officer (CIO)
resource by avoiding free use and to provide a lever
for user departments to hold MIS accountable.
A listing of all the accounts and sub-accounts in the
general ledger. It must be defined ahead of time for
A step in version control systems. When a user is
finished making changes to a file, the user checks in
the file to the repository to make it fully available to
other users. The user must first check out the file.
A step in version control systems. A user checks out a
file or document to indicate that changes will be
made. To prevent concurrency problems, the
document is usually locked so that others cannot
make changes at the same time. When finished, the
user checks in the file.
The head of a company. The person ultimately
responsible for setting the direction and policies of
the firm. Usually the CEO is also the chairperson of
the board of directors.
The person who is in charge of the MIS organization
within a firm, charged with overseeing operations,
setting MIS priorities, and being a top-level advocate
for MIS. Also develops and supports strategy for the
In a spreadsheet, a set of cells that eventually refer
to each other. In the simplest example, cell Al would
use values stored in cell A2, but cell A2 uses the
value stored in Al. This technique is sometimes used
to create an iterative solution to a model.
Base descriptions of objects. Technically, classes
describe generic attributes and methods. Objects are
a specific instance of a class.
Used in Web advertising, the percentage of people
viewing an online ad who actually click it to see the
details on the advertised product or service. By 2000,
the average click-through rates had declined to less
than 1 percent. But it is not necessarily a good
measure of advertising effectiveness.
A network configuration in which a few machines are
used as file servers and the others (clients) are
independent workstations. Shared data is first sent to
a file server where it can be examined or transferred
by another client.
A method of organizing the MIS function so that some
operations are centralized while others are
decentralized. The client-server model separates all of
the components into two categories: servers or
clients. The functions associated with the server tend
to be centralized, whereas the client components and
tasks are dispersed among the users.
Artwork created and sold to be used by non-artists.
Hundreds of collections are available of people,
places, buildings, and other objects. Clip art images
are often used to create presentations and illustrate
The method used to transfer data between software
packages in windows-oriented operating
environments. All objects that are cut or copied are
placed onto the clipboard, ready to be pasted to
another location or another package. Clipboard
viewers exist to show the current contents of the
clipboard. Some software systems allow a clipboard
to hold several cuttings. Many automatically delete
the older cuts— keeping only the most recent.
An encryption method created by the U.S. top-secret
National Security Agency (NSA). It uses a secret
algorithm to encrypt and decrypt digital messages. It
was particularly designed for digital voice
communication. Its key feature is the use of two
escrow keys assigned to each chip. If the police
decide they want to listen to a conversation between
two suspects, they can get a court order, collect the
escrow keys, and instantly decrypt the call.
A system or piece of computer code in which every
step in a control mechanism is contained inside the
system and does not utilize external input. See also
A system that is entirely self-contained and does not
respond to changes in the environment. Most closed
systems eventually fail due to entropy.
The process of running the main part of an
application on servers on the Internet. The servers
are generally scalable and provide redundancy. Cloud
services available to the public are usually charged on
some type of per-use fee basis so firms can buy the
level of computing.
Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Key (black). A color model used
in the printing world to precisely define colors. Colors
can be expressed by specifying the percentage
needed of each of the primary colors. See also RGB.
A cable used to transmit data. Cable television is a
widespread application. The inner cable is surrounded
by a plastic insulator, which is surrounded by a wire
mesh conductor and an outer casing. The wire mesh
insulates the internal signal wire from external
A facility that can be leased from a disaster backup
specialist. A cold site contains power and
telecommunication lines but no computer. In the
event of a disaster, a company calls the computer
vendor and begs for the first available machine to be
sent to the cold site.
In networks, a collision arises when two computers
attempt to broadcast messages at the same time.
The network protocols need to identify the situation
and determine which machine will go first.
Installing your computer or network equipment in
another facilities to obtain access to high-speed data
communication lines. You pay a fee for use of the
facilities, power, cooling, and network usage.
A vertical part of a table that holds data for one
attribute of an entity in a database or spreadsheet.
For example, a table to describe automobiles will
have columns for make, model, and color.
A method of controlling the computer by typing
commands. The user must generally memorize
specific commands. Older machines still use them
because GUI systems require too much overhead.
Some people prefer command lines, because it is
faster to type one or two commands than to
manipulate an image on the screen.
A software system that runs an e-commerce Web
server. It handles the product catalog, searching, a
shopping cart, and the payment mechanism. Several
vendors sell versions to be run on your own server, or
you can lease space on a hosting company.
Purchased software for building applications.
Relatively popular because it is faster than building
An early programming language designed to handle
typical transaction-processing tasks. Its death has
been predicted for years, but it is hard to throw away
Common Object Request
Broker Architecture (CORBA)
Computer-aided design (CAD)
billions of lines of code.
A model largely developed in the UNIX community
that will enable objects to communicate with each
other across networks. In particular, it is designed to
enable users to combine different data types from
various software vendors into a single compound
document. The data could reside on any server on the
Something that makes your company better or
stronger than your rivals. Examples include lower
costs, higher quality, strong ties to loyal customers,
and control over distribution channels.
In defining a database table, each table must have a
primary key. When the primary key consists of more
than one column, it is referred to as a composite key.
The business relationship between the multiple
columns are many-to-many.
A document that incorporates different types of data:
text, graphics, sound, and video. The different objects
might be transmitted across a network to be included
in a final document.
Programs that are used to create engineering
drawings. CAD programs make it easy to modify
drawings. They also make it easier to keep track of
material specifications. They can perform spatial and
engineering estimates on the designs, such as surface
or volume calculations.
Computer programs that are designed to support the
analysis and development of computer systems. They
make it easier to create, store, and share diagrams
and data definitions. Some versions even generate
code. There are two categories of CASE tools:
software development and maintenance of existing
Using a computer to control most of the production
equipment in a manufacturing environment. The
computer can monitor the production statistics. It is
also used to set individual machine controls.
The concept that all of us have an obligation with
respect to data. For example, managers have a
responsibility to customers to protect personal data,
to collect only data that is truly needed, and to give
customers the ability to correct errors in personal
Computer information system
Content management system
Critical success factors
See management information system (MIS).
In relational databases, a key that consists of more
than one column. The columns are combined to yield
a unique primary key.
A situation that arises when applications attempt to
modify the same piece of data at the same time. If
two people are allowed to make changes to the same
piece of data, the computer system must control the
order in which it processes the two re-iquests. Mixing
the two tasks will result in the wrong data being
stored in the computer.
Changing text and images on a Web site can be
challenging, particularly with thousands of pages and
hundreds of contributors. Contributors can write
changes in simple text format to a content
management system which then formats and uploads
the data to the Web site automatically.
The top level of a data flow diagram that acts as a
title page and displays the boundaries of the system
and displays the external entities that interact with
The concept that any process can be improved by
continually evaluating the system and making
adjustments and refinements. The concept is also
applied to service processes, but relies on a
measurable performance objective.
The ability of an iterative model to stabilize on a fixed
solution. The alternative is that values continually
increase and never reach a solution.
Small text files that a Web server sends to client
computers. When the user returns to a site, the
browser automatically returns the cookie file. Servers
use them to keep track of transactions— so they know
when the same user has returned. Marketers have
used them to track individual users on the Web.
A legal ownership right granted to the creators of
intellectual property. All works are automatically
copyrighted. Registering with the copyright office is
not required but grants additional protection to the
A limited number of concrete goals that must be met
for the organization to be successful. Identifying
these key factors helps determine the strategic
Cut, copy, paste
Data encryption standard
Data flow diagram (DFD)
directions and highlights the areas that can benefit
from improved information systems.
A system for tracking and integrating all customer
data. Salespeople, managers, and clerks all have
access to the same data, so everyone has the same
consolidated view of all customer interactions.
A common mechanism used to transfer and link data
between different software packages. The data to be
transferred is marked. When it is cut or copied, it is
placed on the clipboard. Switching to the second
package, the object is pasted into the appropriate
location. Dynamic and static links are specified
through options in the "paste special" menu. With the
cut option, the original object is deleted. With copy,
the original is unchanged.
Consists of factual elements (or opinions or
comments) that describe some object or event. Data
can be thought of as raw numbers or text.
MIS manager who is charged with overseeing all of
the data definitions and data standards for the
company to ensure that applications can share data
throughout the company.
Contains all of the information to explain the terms
used to define a system. Often includes report
descriptions, business rules, and security
An older method of encrypting data that was
commonly used by financial institutions. With current
computer capabilities that can break a DES-encrypted
message, DES is no longer considered a secure
A diagramming technique used to analyze and design
systems. It shows how a system is divided into
subsystems and highlights the -iflow of data
be-itween the processes and subsystems. It displays
processes, external entities, files, data flows, and
Separating programs from their data definition and
storage. The main advantage is that it is possible to
change the data without having to change the
(1) A concept that implies data is as accurate as
possible. It means the database contains few errors.
(2) Keeping data accurate and correct as it is
Database administrator (DBA)
Database management system
gathered and stored in the computer system.
A small version of a data warehouse. A database
designed to hold concise collections of data for
retrieval and analysis by managers.
An automated system that examines data for
patterns and relationships. It is partly based on
statistics, but also searches for more specific
associations. The results are not always applicable to
The ultimate backup technique where all data that is
stored on one machine is automatically transferred
and stored on a second computer. Useful to prevent
loss of data and recover from disasters— particularly
when the second computer is located many miles
A file or place where data is stored. In a realistic
setting, a data store could be a computer file, a file
cabinet, or even a reference book.
To humans, there are four basic types of data: text
and numbers, images, sound, and video. Each data
type must be converted to binary form for computer
A single consolidation point for enterprise data from
diverse production systems. The data is typically
stored in one large file server or a central computer.
Because legacy systems are difficult to replace, some
data is copied into a data warehouse, where it is
available for management queries and analysis.
A collection of related data that can be retrieved
easily and processed by computers; a collection of
(1) A person appoint-ied to manage the data-ibases
for the firm. The DBA needs to know the technical
details of the DBMS and the computer system. The
DBA also needs to under-istand the business
operations of the firm. (2) A management person in
the MIS department charged with defining and
maintaining the corporate databases. Maintaining
data integrity is a key component of the job.
Software that defines a database, stores the data,
supports a query language, produces reports, and
creates data-entry screens.
Moving the major operations and decisions out to
lower levels within the firm. In MIS, decentralization
Decision support system (DSS)
Denial of Service (DoS)
Desktop publishing (DTP)
has largely been led by the declining cost and
improved capabilities of personal computers. See also
Without models and careful analysis, decisions made
by people tend to be biased. There are several biases
in each of the four systems categories: data
acquisition, processing, output, and feedback.
The steps required to make a decision. It includes
problem identification, research, specification of
choices, and the final selection. Mid-level managers
are often involved in the initial stages and affect the
outcome, even though they may not make the final
System to use data collected by transaction-
processing systems to evaluate business models and
assist managers in making tactical decisions. There
are three major components: data collection, analysis
of models, and presentation.
A graphical representation of logic rules. Each
possible answer to a question or situation leads to a
new branch of the tree.
A value that is automatically displayed by the
computer. Users can often override the default by
deleting the old value and entering a new one. The
goal is to choose a value that will almost always be
entered, so the user can skip that item.
Some people feel that technology isolates people and
decreases our contact with other members of society.
Treating people as identification numbers and
summary statistics can lead managers to forget the
human consequences of their decisions.
Preventing legitimate users access to systems and
networks. A common Internet trick is to force
thousands of zombie computers to flood a server with
millions of meaningless messages— preventing
anyone else from using the system.
A model that is defined in words and perhaps
pictures. Relationships between objects and variables
tend to be subjective. Useful for an initial
understanding of a system but difficult to evaluate by
The art of creating professional documents with
personal computers and small laser printers. Beyond
basic word processing, DTP software provides controls
to standardize pages, improve the page layout, and
The section in a report that is repeated for every row
in the associated tables. It is often used for itemized
values, whereas group and page footers are used for
Small software modules that provide the interface
from an operating system to a hardware device.
Manufacturers improve and rewrite their device
drives, so you should periodically update your system
to obtain the newer drivers.
Spotting problems, searching for the cause, and
implementing corrections. Examples include
responding to exception reports to identify problems
and potential solutions, and determining why the
latest marketing approach did not perform as well as
A special modem placed on a central computer. When
a user attempts to log in, the dial-back modem
breaks the connection and calls back a predefined
phone number. Its use minimizes the threat of
outsiders gaining access to the central computer.
An electronic version of money that is provided and
verified by a trusted third party. It consists of an
encrypted number for a specified value that can only
be used one time. It provides for verifiable and
anonymous purchases using networks.
Part of an authentication mechanism used with dual-
key encryption. Companies that host servers need to
encrypt transactions over the Internet. They purchase
a digital certificate from a certificate authority and
install it on the Web server. The client browser
recognizes the certificate key and encrypts the data.
A visual presentation of broad measures of current
activity in an organization. The data is generally
displayed as gauges, and the system must be
customized for each organization. As part of an
executive information system, managers can drill
down to get more data.
The distance between those individuals or nations
who have network capabilities and those who do not.
Despite declining costs, many people and many
nations cannot afford the hardware and software. If a
large portion of the economy moves online, it could
Digital rights management
Digital subscriber line (DSL)
Digital video/versatile disk
Direct sequence spread
Distribution center (DC)
alienate those who cannot afford the network
A combination of encryption and Internet validation
for protecting vendor copyrights to prevent
unauthorized copying of digital content (software,
music, books, movies, and so on).
Any electronic signature technology that verifies the
user. U.S. law now recognizes digital signatures as
equivalent to handwritten ones. The most secure
system is to obtain a digital certificate from a public
company that verifies each person's identity. But the
IRS accepts a simple PIN issued by the agency as a
A special phone service connection available to
customers within 3 miles of the phone company's
switch. It provides about 1 Mbps transmission speed
for Internet connections.
A digital format primarily used for storing video and
movies. However, it can also hold audio and
traditional computer data. One side of the disk can
hold over 3 gigabytes of data.
A network transmission protocol commonly used for
wireless connections. It subdivides the allocated
frequency to send multiple packets at the same time.
Communication packets can shift frequencies at each
time slot. By making more efficient use of the
spectrum, more data can be transmitted.
In an e-commerce context, using a Web-based
system to skip over sections of the production chain,
such as manufacturers selling directly to consumers.
The approach can give the manufacturer a higher
percentage of the sale price, but risks alienating
retailers, resulting in lost sales.
A central point in a supply chain where incoming bulk
goods are split and merged into multiple shipments to
the final destination. For example, a truckload of
bread would be unloaded and individual boxes placed
on other trucks, along with other food items for
distribution to a grocery store.
The layers of distributors in between the
manufacturer and the final customer. If a producer
can gain control over this means of getting the
product to the consumers, the producer can prevent
new rivals from entering the industry. Improved
Domain name system (DNS)
Dots per inch (dpi)
Dynamic data exchange
communication systems offer the possibility of
eroding control over some distribution channels.
The property of an iterative model where successive
computations keep leading to larger values (in
magnitude). The model never reaches a stable
solution. Generally due to insufficient or incorrect
Descriptions of a system, its components, the data,
and records of changes made to the system.
A set of computers on the Internet that converts
mnemonic names into numeric Internet addresses.
The names are easier for humans to remember, but
the computers rely on the numeric addresses.
To transfer files from a remote computer to a local
computer (usually a personal computer). See also
To use an information system to get increasingly
detailed data about a company. In an enterprise
information system, the ability to look at overall
company data, and then select breakdowns by
regions, departments, or smaller levels.
Abbreviation given to the many Internet firms formed
in the late 1990s because their Internet names ended
with the .com suffix. For a couple of years, having a
dot-com name was prestigious and attracted funding.
When hundreds of these firms failed in 2000 and
2001, they became known as dot-bombs.
A measure of the resolution of devices including
printers and displays. Higher values representing
more dots per inch provide more detailed images and
text. Some people use the term pixels (ppi) instead of
The action in a data analysis package or executive
information system where the user clicks a link to
obtain more detail about a specific situation. See also
A method of encrypting a message that requires two
keys: one to encrypt and one to decrypt. One of the
keys is a public key that is available to anyone. The
other key is private and must never be revealed to
other people. RSA is a popular dual-key encryption
system. Dual-key systems can also be used to
authenticate the users.
An early method of linking data from multiple sources
Dynamic host control protocol
EBCDIC: Extended Binary
Coded Decimal Interchange
Electronic data interchange
with the Windows operating system. The software
packages literally send messages to other software
packages, which enables them to combine and update
data. See also dynamic integration as well as Object
Linking and Embedding (OLE).
The standard Internet method for assigning Internet
addresses to a computer. A DHCP server is given a
database with a range of IP addresses and it assigns
an unused number to a computer when it requests
one on start-up. The process means that IP addresses
on specific computers can change over time unless
the computer is allocated a static address in the
A means of linking data from multiple documents.
One compound document (or container) can hold
data objects created by other software. As the
original data is changed, it is automatically updated in
the container document. See also static integration.
Electronic business. The process of conducting any
type of business over the Internet. It includes all
forms of e-commerce and m-commerce, as well as
internal processes and Web services.
Electronic commerce. The process of selling items
over the Internet. The most familiar form is business-
to-consumer, but it includes business-to-business and
auction sites like eBay.
Electronic discovery. In legal cases, a request for all
electronic data— particularly e-mail communications,
but might also include accounting or other data from
any computer system. Companies establish policies to
define storage life and destruction policies to ensure
old data is deleted automatically from systems.
Electronic mail, or messages that are transmitted
from one computer user to another. Networks transfer
messages between the computers. Users can send or
retrieve messages at any time. The computer holds
the message until the recipient checks in.
A method of numbering characters so that they can
be processed by machines. Used exclusively by large
IBM and compatible computers. See also ASCII.
Exchanging transaction data with entities outside the
control of your firm. Private connections can be
established directly between two firms. Public
networks are also being formed where one provider
Enterprise resource planning
Respond to these events and
collects data and routes it to the appropriate client.
A method of modifying the original information
according to some code, so that it can be read only if
the user knows the decryption key. It is used to safely
transmit data between computers.
Managers and workers are to develop their own small
systems using database management systems,
spreadsheets, and other high-level tools.
A network that connects multiple sub-networks across
an entire firm. Often, the networks use different
protocols and different computer types, which
complicates transmitting messages.
An integrated computer system running on top of a
DBMS. It is designed to collect and organize data
from all operations in an organization. Existing
systems are strong in accounting, purchasing, and
The act of creating and organizing a business.
Generally, an entrepreneur takes the risks to create a
new business in search of a profit.
The study of how machines can be made to fit
humans better. One of the main conclusions of this
research in the computer area is that individuals need
to be able to adjust input (and output) devices to
their own preferences.
In an encryption system, it is a special key that can
be used by government officials to decrypt a secret
conversation. The Clipper chip uses escrow keys.
A network communications protocol that specifies
how machines will exchange data. It uses a broadcast
system in which one machine transmits its message
on the communication medium. The other machines
listen for messages directed to them.
The concept that various elements of society have
obligations to the others. In IT, it focuses on the roles
of users, developers, and vendors.
A user-interface approach where the user controls the
sequence or operations and the software responds to
these events. Events can range from a simple key-
press to a voice command. Modern, window-based
software does not follow a sequential process.
Instead, actions by users generate events. The
alter data or offer additional
choices. Typical events include
mouse clicks pointing to items
on the screen, keystrokes,
changes to values, or
transmissions from other
Executive information system
Expert system (ES)
Expert system shell
Extensible business reporting
A count of the number of bytes one step above
petabyte and one below zettabyte. The new IEC
definition uses exbibyte for binary data and exabyte
only for decimal data which is 1018.
The new IEC definition for binary-based counting
instead of exabyte. The binary version is 260.
Technically 2 raised to the 60th power or
1024*1024*1024*1024*1024*1024 (6 times).
Report that is triggered by some event to signify a
condition that is unusual and needs to be handled
A type of decision support system that collects,
analyzes, and presents data in a format that is easy
to use by top executives. To achieve this objective,
the EIS is based on a model of the entire company. In
most cases the model is presented graphically and
the executives retrieve information by pointing to
objects on the screen.
Testing every possible combination of inputs to search
for errors. Generally not a feasible option, so most
computer systems will always contain errors.
System with the goal of helping a novice achieve the
same results as an expert. They can handle ill-
structured and missing data. Current expert systems
can be applied only to narrowly defined problems.
Diagnostic problems are common applications for
A program that provides a way to collect data, enter
rules, talk to users, present results, and evaluate the
rules for an expert system.
An older method of exchanging data among various
software packages. One package exports the data by
storing it in a format that can be read by other
software. Object Linking and Embedding is a more
powerful way to exchange data.
A specific XML style for reporting financial data in a
standard way. Predefined tags are used to mark the
Extensible markup language
Extraction, transformation, and
Extreme programming (XP)
financial data to make it easier for computers to
extract and compare data from diverse companies.
A tag-based notation system that is used to assign
names and structure to data. It was mainly designed
for transferring data among diverse systems.
Entities that are outside the direct control of your
company. Typical external agents are customers,
suppliers, rivals, and governments. Competitive
advantages can be found by producing better-quality
items or services at a lower cost than your rivals.
Also, many firms have strengthened their positions by
building closer ties with their suppliers and
Objects outside the boundary of a system that
communicate with the system. Common business
examples include suppliers, customers, government
agencies, and management.
The process in data warehouses that involves taking
data from existing systems, cleaning it up, and
moving it into the data warehouse.
A network configured to give certain outsiders,
usually customers and suppliers, limited access to
data using Web-based systems.
A new version of development loosely based on
prototyping. Pairs of developers rapidly build and
simultaneously test applications. The goal is to build
releases and then modify them to meet the changing
needs of the users.
A combination scanner, transmitter, and receiver that
digitizes an image, compresses it, and transmits it
over phone lines to another facsimile machine.
The ability of a computer or a system to continue
functioning properly even if some of the components
fail. Fault-tolerant machines rely on duplication of
subsystems with continuous monitoring and
automatic maintenance calls.
A quick examination of the problems, goals, and
expect -ied costs of a proposed system. The objective
is to determine whether the problem can reasonably
be solved with a computer system.
Well-designed systems have controls that monitor
how well they meet their goals. The information
measuring the goals and providing control to the
system is known as feedback.
Fiber optic cable
File transfer protocol (FTP)
Five Forces model
Floating point operations per
A thin glass or plastic cable that is internally
reflective. It carries a light wave for extended
distances and around corners.
Computer on a network that is used to hold data and
program files for users to share. To be effective, it
should use a multitasking operating system.
A standard method of transferring files on the
Internet. If you control a computer, you can give
other users access to specific files on your computer
without having to provide an account and password
for every possible user.
A small, fast network computer device that examines
every packet entering a company. Rules or filters can
be created that will reject certain packets that are
known to be dangerous to the network.
In a model of rivalry, the firm that takes the initial
action. Sometimes the first mover gets a benefit by
setting the strategy and the market. But the costs are
often higher because the technology is newer. Games
such as chess recognize that the first mover has a
Michael Porter's model used to search for competitive
advantage. The Five Forces are: rivals, customers,
suppliers, potential competitors, and substitute
The number of mathematical calculations a processor
can perform in one second. Typically measured in
millions (mega-FLOPS) or billions (giga-FLOPS).
Bigger numbers represent faster processors.
An old pictorial method for describing the logic of a
computer program. It has largely been replaced by
An important characteristic of text is its size. Size of
type is typically measured in points. For reference, a
capital letter in a 72-point font will be approximately
1 inch high.
In an expert system, the ES traces your rules from
the data entry to a recommendation. Forward
chaining is used to display questions, perform
calculations, and apply rules.
A related set of information that humans group
together. Sometimes groupings can be arbitrary. A
concept used in discussing AI applications and human
Frequency division multiplexing
A network communication system that uses variable-
length packets. It is useful for high-speed, large
bursts of data. It is being used for long-distance
A means of organizing companies. Independent
operators pay a franchise fee to use the company
name. They receive training and benefit from the
name and advertising of the parent company. They
purchase supplies from the parent company and
follow the franchise rules.
Supporting multiple communications at the same time
by assigning a specific frequency range to each
participant. For example, television and radio stations
are assigned specific frequency ranges to avoid
A simple communications device for large central
computers that accepted all of the terminal wires and
then assigned each user to an open communications
port on the computer. This device decreased the
number of physical access ports required on the
A method of transferring data, usually over phone
lines, so that data is transmitted in both directions
simultaneously. In terms of speaker phones, it means
that people on both ends of a call can talk at the
same time. With half duplex, the initial speaker
blocks others from talking.
A way of presenting and analyzing logic problems that
is designed to handle subjective descriptions (e.g.,
hot and cold).
A collection of accounts that break financial data into
specific categories. Common categories include
accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory, and
De-isigned to identify and display relationships
Geographic information system among business data and locations. Used to display
(GIS) geographical relationships. Also used to plot delivery
routes and create maps.
The IEC definition for billion in binary base 2 (230). It
Gibibyte replaces the term gigabyte which now is to be used
for decimal billion.
Gigabyte Approximately 1 billion bytes of data. Technically, 2
raised to the 30th power or 1024*1024*1024 (3
Global positioning system
Graphical user interface (GUI)
Group decision support system
High-bandwidth digital content
times). It is one step above megabyte and one below
A system of 24 satellites created by the U.S.
Department of Defense. The civilian receivers will
identify a location to within about a few feet. Used for
navigation, track vehicles, and plotting delivery
A system that is based on a graphics screen instead
of simple text. Users perform tasks by clicking a
mouse button on or manipulating objects on the
screen. For example, copies are made by dragging an
item from one location on the screen to another.
Pronounced as "gooey."
A system that networks multiple computers so that
they cooperatively process the designated tasks,
effectively functioning as a single computer.
Reports are often broken into subsections so that
data in each section is grouped together by some
common feature. For example, a sales report might
group items by department, with subtotals for each
A type of groupware that is designed to facilitate
meetings and help groups reach a decision. Each
participant uses a networked computer to enter ideas
and comments. Votes can be recorded and analyzed
instantly. Comments and discussion are automatically
saved for further study.
Software designed to assist teams of workers. There
are four basic types: communication, workflow,
meeting, and scheduling. The most common is
communication software that supports messages,
bulletin boards, and data file transfers and sharing.
Primarily used to indicate a person who devotes a
great deal of time trying to break into computer
The physical equipment used in computing.
The digital rights management technology created by
the movie and television industries to make it more
difficult for people to copy high-definition TV signals.
To play protected videos all of your equipment will
need to support the HDCP standard.
Transmission of television signals in digital form. It
provides clearer reception. It also supports encrypted
transmissions so that broadcasters can control who
Hypertext markup language
receives the images. HDTV also supports
compression, so that more data (better pictures or
more channels) can be transmitted in the same
See dynamic integration.
A facility that can be leased from a disaster backup
specialist. A hot site contains all the power,
telecommunication facilities, and computers
necessary to run a company. In the event of a
disaster, a company collects its backup data tapes,
notifies workers, and moves operations to the hot
A network device used to connect several computers
to a network. Commonly used in a twisted-pair LAN.
A cable runs from each computer's NIC to the hub.
The hub is often connected to a router.
The standard formatting system used to display
pages on the Internet. Special tags (commands inside
angle braces, e.g., <HTML>) provide formatting
capabilities. Several software packages automatically
store text in this format, so users do not have to
memorize the tags.
A small picture on a computer screen that is used to
represent some object or indicate a command. A
classic example is the trash can used to delete files
on the Apple Macintosh.
A graphic representation that can be described by its
resolution and the number of colors. They can be
stored as bit-mapped or vector images.
An older method of exchanging data among various
software packages. Most software (e.g., a database
management system) can export or store data in a
text file format. Another software package (e.g., a
spreadsheet) can import or retrieve this data. Object
Linking and Embedding is a more powerful way to
Within an expert system, the inference engine applies
new observations to the knowledge base and
analyzes the rules to reach a conclusion.
Data that has been processed, organized, and
integrated to provide insight. The distinction between
data and information is that information carries
meaning and is used to make decisions.
An MIS group responsible for supporting end users. It
Information technology (IT)
Information warfare (IW)
Initial public offering (IPO)
typically provides a help desk to answer questions,
programmers who provide access to corporate
databases, training classes, and network support
people to install and maintain networks.
A system to control exactly what each group can do
with digital data, including documents, music, and
video files. A good IRM system can prevent a
document from being read by outsiders, even if the
document is somehow shipped outside the company's
A collection of hardware, software, data, and people
designed to collect, process, and distribute data
throughout an organization.
The hardware and software used to create an
information system. Sometimes used as an
abbreviation for management information systems.
There are two classes of threats to information: (1)
physical, in the form of disasters; and (2) logical,
which consists of unauthorized disclosure,
unauthorized modification, and unauthorized
withholding of data. The primary source of danger lies
with insiders: employees, ex-employees, partners, or
The use of information in a conflict setting. It includes
protecting your own information, providing
misinformation to the enemy, and monitoring and
disrupting the enemy's information.
Creation or derivation of objects from other object
classes. Each derived class inherits the attributes and
methods of the prior class. For example, a savings
account object can be derived from an account
object. The savings account object will automatically
have the same attributes and methods. Attributes and
methods specific to the savings account can be
The step when firms first sell stock to the public. A
method of raising additional funds and a major step
for most start-up firms.
People do not deal very well with binary data, so all
data forms must be converted into binary form for
the computer. Input devices— for example, keyboards,
microphones, and bar code readers— make the
A shorthand description of a subsystem. Each
Instant Messaging (IM)
Integrated Services Digital
Internet Assigned Numbers
Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers
Internet Engineering Task
Internet service provider (ISP)
subsystem receives inputs and performs some
process. The output is passed to another subsystem.
A two-way electronic communication in real time.
Short comments that you type are immediately
displayed on the recipient's screen. It generally
requires that both parties run the same software.
The practice of combining data from different sources
to make a decision. Data can come from different
departments throughout the business, and it can
come in many different forms. Networks, groupware,
and products that support dynamic linking are all
useful tools to integrate data to make better
A set of services, and a transmission and control
system, offered by telephone companies. It uses
complete digital transmission of signals to improve
transmission speed and quality.
As defined by copyright laws, the concept that
property such as music, books, software, and movies
can be protected. The laws clearly define the owners
of the property and specify that the owners can
establish any type of copy protections they desire.
A collection of computers loosely connected to
exchange information worldwide. Owners of the
computers make files and information available to
other users. Common tools on the Internet include e-
mail, ftp, telnet, and the World Wide Web.
The Internet committee that is responsible for
allocating IP address segments. It generally focuses
on technical issues, manages the DNS root zone and
coordinates the global numbering system.
The Internet committee founded in 1998 that
coordinates the Internet naming system. It is largely
a political committee, formed within the United
States, but with international membership, it
discusses new top level domains, internationalization
issues and so on.
The primary technical committee that defines Internet
standards. It is responsible for standards such as
router protocols and HTML.
A private company that provides connections to the
Internet. Individuals pay a fee to the ISP. The ISP
pays a fee to a higher-level provider (e.g., NSP) to
pass all communications onto the Internet.
Intrusion detection system
Intrusion prevention system
Intrusion detection system
Internet Protocol version 6
Joint application design (JAD)
Just-in-time (JIT) inventory
A network within an organization that utilizes
standard Internet protocols and services. Essentially,
this includes Web sites that are accessible only for
A software tool containing sensors and a set of rules
that monitors network traffic looking for attackers.
Snort is a commonly-used tool for IDS because it is
freely available from the open-source community.
Similar to an IDS but more active. It uses software to
monitor network activity and a set of rules to indicate
when an attack occurs. It then uses router and
system commands to shut down or delay access to
Building a model and evaluating it until the parameter
values converge to a fixed solution. Sometimes an
iterative model will diverge and never reach an
acceptable solution. See also circular reference.
A combination of hardware and software that
monitors packets and operations on the network and
computers. It watches for suspicious patterns that
might indicate an attack.
A set of standards that define how raw data is
transmitted on the Internet and how machines are
addressed. Version 6 contains several improvements
to the older version 4. For example, version 6
supports 128-bit addresses compared with 32 bits in
version 4. It will take several years for people to
move to version 6.
A method to reduce design time by putting everyone
in development sessions until the system is designed.
Users, managers, and systems analysts participate in
a series of intense meetings to design the inputs
(data and screens) and outputs (reports) needed by
the new system.
A production system that relies on suppliers
delivering components just as they are needed in
production, instead of relying on inventory stocks. JIT
requires close communication between manufacturers
A security system created at MIT that enables
systems to have a single sign-on. Users log into the
Kerberos server and other systems can validate the
user's identity from that server. Much simpler than
requiring users to log in multiple times. Named after
Knowledge Management (KM)
the hound that guards the gates of Hades (spelled
Cerberus in Latin).
Approximately one thousand bytes of data.
Technically it is 2 to the tenth, or 1024. The next step
up is megabyte.
A higher level of understanding, including rules,
patterns, and decisions. Knowledge-based systems
are built to automatically analyze data, identify
patterns, and recommend decisions.
Within an expert system, the knowledge base
consists of basic data and a set of rules.
A person who helps build an expert system by
organizing the data, devising the rules, and entering
the criteria into the expert system shell, trained to
deal with experts to derive the rules needed to create
an expert system. The engineer also converts the
data and rules into the format needed by the expert
A system that stores information in the context of a
set of decisions. It contains cross-references and
search methods to make it easy for workers to
understand how and why decisions were made.
The connection from an ISP to individual households
and businesses. In many cases, the most difficult
connection to make because of the cost and
monopoly control. Most households are limited to a
few choices: telephone and cable TV. Some
technologies exist to run communications over power
lines. The other option is wireless.
The delay between initiating an action and seeing a
result. In communications, it is the delay between
sending a message and receiving a reply. Often a
problem with satellite connections because the signal
must travel huge distances.
Information systems that were created over several
years and are now crucial to operating the company.
They probably use older technology, and the software
is difficult to modify. However, replacing them is
difficult and likely to interfere with day-to-day
operations. Any changes or new systems must be
able to work with the older components.
An SQL command used within a WHERE clause to
search for patterns in text. Two pattern-matching
characters are used. A % (* in Access) matches any
Limited liability company (LLC)
Local area network (LAN)
Magnetic hard drives
Magnetic ink character
Planning (MRP II)
Market basket analysis
characters. An _ (? in Access) matches exactly one
character. For example, WHERE LastName LIKE 'Jo*',
matches any last name beginning with those two
A legal variation of organizing a company. It protects
the owners with the same separation of funds offered
to corporations, but because it does not allow it to
issue stock, the record keeping is somewhat easier.
A collection of personal computers within a small
geographical area, connected by a network. All of the
components are owned or controlled by one company.
Magnetic hard drives (or disk drives) consist of rigid
platters that store data with magnetic particles. Data
is accessed by spinning the platters and moving a
drive head across the platters to access various
A special typeface printed with ink containing
magnetic ink. It can be read rapidly and reliably by
computers. Banks are the primary users of MICR.
Checks are imprinted with MICR routing numbers.
MICR readers are more accurate than straight OCR
because they pick up a stronger signal from magnetic
particles in the ink.
Programs that automatically read e-mail and sort the
messages according to whatever criteria the manager
prefers. Junk mail can be discarded automatically.
A generic term used to describe software that does
nasty things. It includes viruses, Trojan Horses, spy-
ware, and so on.
An MIS consists of five related components:
hardware, software, people, procedures, and
databases. The goal of management information
systems is to enable managers to make better
decisions by providing quality information.
An integrated approach to manufacturing. Beginning
with the desired production levels, we work backward
to determine the processing time, materials, and
labor needed at each step. These results generate
schedules and inventory needs. Sometimes known as
a demand-pull system.
A data mining technique pioneered to see if two items
are commonly purchased at the same time. Can also
be used to identify any pairs of items that are
associated with each other.
Media access control (MAC)
The ability to modify the production line often enough
to produce more variations of the main product. The
goal is to cover virtually all of the niche markets.
An early production system, where at each stage of
production, we evaluate the usage of materials to
determine the optimal inventory levels.
A model that is defined by mathematical equations.
This format is easy to use for forecasts and for
simulation analysis on the computer. Be careful not to
confuse precision with accuracy. A model might
forecast some value with great precision (e.g.,
15.9371), but the accuracy could be quite less (e.g.,
actual values between 12 and 18).
An International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
replacement for the term megabyte. Mebibyte is base
2 (220), megabyte is for base 10 (106).
For transmissions, the means of connecting
computers in a network. Common methods include
twisted-pair and coaxial cable; fiber-optic lines; and
radio, micro, and infrared waves.
The network protocol that governs how data bits are
sent across a connection medium. Almost always
implemented in a LAN card. It is most commonly
noticed when you need to control security based on
physical cards— in which case you need the MAC
address that is uniquely assigned to every network
Loosely, 1 million bytes of data. Technically, it is
1,048,576 bytes of data, which is 2 raised to the 20th
power or 1024*1024. The next step up is gigabyte.
Millions of floating-point operations per second. A
measure of the processor speed, it counts the
number of common arithmetical operations that can
be performed in one second.
One million cycles per second, a measure of the clock
chip in a computer, which establishes how fast a
processor can operate.
A graphical depiction of the menu choices available to
users in a system.
Describes the source data, and the transformation
and integration steps, and defines the way the
database or data warehouse is organized.
Descriptions of actions that an object can perform.
For example, an employee object could be hired,
Million instructions per second
promoted, or released. Each of these functions would
necessitate changes in the employee attributes and in
other objects. The methods carry out these changes.
One-millionth of a second. Few computer components
are measured in microseconds, but some electrical
devices and controllers operate in that range. One
microsecond compared to one second is the same as
comparing one second to 11.6 days.
A measure of computer processor speed. Higher
numbers represent a faster processor. However,
different brands of processors use different
instruction sets, so numbers are not always
One-thousandth of a second. Disk drives and some
other input and output devices perform operations
measured in milliseconds. One millisecond compared
to one second is the same as comparing 1 second to
A backup system where data is automatically written
to a second disk drive. If the primary drive fails,
operations can be switched instantaneously to the
A simplified, abstract representation of some real-
world system. Some models can be written as
mathematical equations or graphs; others are
subjective descriptions. Models help managers
visualize physical objects and business processes.
Information systems help you build models, evaluate
them, and organize and display the output.
Modulator-demodulator. A device that converts
computer signals into sounds that can be transmitted
(and received) across phone lines.
Digital conversion of one image into another. The
term is an abbreviation of metamorphosis. True
morphing is done with digital video sequences, where
the computer modifies each frame until the image
converts to a new form.
The main board in a computer that contains sockets
for the process and RAM. It also contains an interface
bus so that interface cards can be added to the
The combination of the four basic data types: text,
sound, video, and images (animation). In its broadest
definition, multimedia encompasses virtually any
Musical Instrument Data
Network address translation
Network attached storage
combination of data types. Today, it typically refers to
the use of sound, text, and video clips in digitized
form that are controlled by the computer user.
A feature of operating systems that enables you to
run more than one task or application at the same
time. Technically, they do not run at exactly the same
time. The processor divides its time and works on
several tasks at once.
A collection of standards that define how musical
instruments communicate with each other. Sounds
are stored by musical notation and are re-created by
synthesizers that play the notes.
One-billionth of a second. Computer processors and
memory chips operate at times measured in
nanoseconds. One nanosecond compared to 1 second
is the same as comparing 1 second to 31.7 years.
A human language used for communication with other
humans, as opposed to a computer programming
language or some other artificial language created for
A very short range wireless communication method
useful for touchless payments because the short
range makes it difficult to intercept the transmission
or misidentify the sender. Typically a range of a few
centimeters with a relatively low bandwidth. Similar
to RFID, but with a shorter range.
A set of items connected together. In MIS, it is
typically a connection of computers. And social
networks are connections of people.
A network configuration where internal computers use
non-routable addresses (usually in the 10.0.0.0
range). When connecting to devices on the Internet,
the boundary router temporarily assigns a real IP
address and then directs the incoming messages to
the original computer by changing the address within
A disk drive unit that stands alone and is connected
to the high-speed local area network instead of
directly to a single computer. Similar to a SAN but it
uses standard network connections and is accessible
to any computer attached to the network.
The concept that a network becomes more valuable
and useful as the number of participants increases. In
social networks, larger networks attract more people,
Network interface card (NIC)
Network operating system
Network service provider (NSP)
enabling them to grow even larger.
The communication card that plugs into a computer
and attaches to the network communication medium.
It translates computer commands into network
messages and server commands.
A special operating system installed on a file server,
with portions loaded to the client machines. It
enables the machines to communicate and share
A high-level Internet service provider offering
connections to ISPs. The NSP leases high-speed,
high-capacity lines to handle the communication
traffic from hundreds of ISPs.
A collection of artificial neurons loosely designed to
mimic the way the human brain operates. Especially
useful for tasks that involve pattern recognition.
The fundamental cell of human brains and nerves.
Each of these cells is relatively simple, but there are
approximately 100 million of them.
A set of electronic bulletin boards available on the
Internet. Postings are continuously circulated around
the network as people add comments.
A written agreement where the signer agrees to keep
certain information confidential and not tell anyone.
Commonly used by startup companies to keep basic
technology, general operating practices, and
marketing plans secret.
A set of rules for creating tables in a relational
database. The primary rules are that there can be no
repeating elements and every nonkey column must
depend on the whole key and nothing but the key.
Roughly, it means that each table should refer to only
one object or concept.
One of the basic data types, similar to text on input
and output. Attributes include precision and a scaling
factor that defines the true size or dimension of the
A software description of some entity. It consists of
attributes that describe the object, and functions (or
methods) that describe the actions that can be taken
by the object. Objects are generally related to other
objects through an object hierarchy.
Objects are defined from other base objects. The new
objects inherit the properties and functions of the
Object Linking and Embedding
Online analytical processing
Open operating system
A standard created by Microsoft for its Windows
operating system to create compound documents and
dynamically link data objects from multiple software
packages. You begin with a compound document or
container that holds data from other software
packages. These data objects can be edited directly
(embedded). Most OLE software also supports
An approach to systems and programming that
classifies data as various objects. Objects have
attributes or properties that can be set by the
programmer or by users. Objects also have methods
or functions that define the actions they can take.
Objects can be defined from other objects, so most
are derived from the four basic data types.
A database system specifically created to hold custom
objects. Generally supports developer-defined data
types and hierarchical relationships.
The ultimate goal of the object-oriented approach is
to build a set of reusable objects and procedures. The
idea is that eventually, it should be possible to create
new systems or modify old ones simply by plugging in
a new module or modifying an existing object.
The process of writing software using sets of
extensible objects. Programmers first create objects
that encapsulate internal data structures with
software methods. New objects can be created by
inheriting properties and methods from more generic
classes. A goal of OOP was to encourage reuse of
objects to reduce the time it takes to create new
The practice of sending jobs to an outside contractor
located in a different country.
Some object or task that can be repeated. For
instance, a customer can place many orders. In
database normalization, we search for one-to-many
relationships and split them into two tables.
A computer system designed to help managers
retrieve and analyze data. The systems are optimized
to rapidly integrate and retrieve data. The storage
system is generally incompatible with transaction
processing, so it is stored in a data warehouse.
An operating system that is supposed to be vendor
Online transaction processing
Open source development
Optical character recognition
neutral. It should run on hardware from several
different vendors. When a buyer upgrades to a new
machine, the operating system and software should
function the same as before.
A computer system designed to handle daily
transactions. It is optimized to record and protect
multiple transactions. Because it is generally not
compatible with managerial retrieval of data, data is
extracted from these systems into a data warehouse.
A method of creating software where the source code
is released to the public and anyone can contribute to
the project by writing sections of the code. Usually
one person takes the lead to control the integration
changes and planning for new releases. The Linux
operating system initiated by Linus Torvalds is a
An open system learns by altering itself as the
A basic collection of software that handles jobs
common to all users and programmers. It is
responsible for connecting the hardware devices, such
as terminals, disk drives, and printers. It also
provides the environment for other software, as well
as the user interface that affects how people use the
Day-to-day operations and decisions. In a
manufacturing firm, machine settings, worker
schedules, and maintenance requirements would
rep-iresent management decisions at the operations
level. Information systems are used at this level to
collect data and perform well-defined computations.
The ability to convert images of characters (bitmaps)
into computer text that can be stored, searched, and
edited. Software examines a picture and looks for
text. The software checks each line, deciphers one
character at a time, and stores the result as text.
The use of models to search for the best solutions:
minimizing costs, improving efficiency, or increasing
Data stored in binary form on the computer must be
converted to a format people understand. Output
devices— for example, display screens, printers, and
synthesizers— make the conversion.
The act of transferring ownership or management of
Packet switching network
MIS resources (hardware, software and personnel) to
an outside MIS specialist.
Network messages are split into packets for
transmission. Each packet contains a destination and
source address as well as a portion of the message.
A communications protocol in which each message is
placed into smaller packets. These packets contain a
destination and source address. The packets are
switched (or routed) to the appropriate computer.
With high-speed switches, this protocol offers speeds
in excess of 150 megabits per second.
Data that are placed at the bottom of each page in a
report. Common items include page totals and page
Data that is placed at the top of every page in a
report. Common items include the report title, date,
and column labels.
Using several processors in the same computer. Each
processor can be assigned different tasks, or jobs can
be split into separate pieces and given to each
processor. There are a few massively parallel
machines that utilize several thousand processors.
Variables in a model that can be controlled or set by
managers. They are used to examine different
situations or to tailor the model to fit a specific
Legal protection for products (and sometimes
business processes). It grants the owner sole right to
sell or create modifications of the product for 20
years. No one can create the same product unless
approved by the patent owner.
A method of sharing data and information directly
Peer-to-peer communication with colleagues and peers, instead of transferring
data through a shared central server.
A network configuration in which each machine is
considered to be an equal. Messages and data are
shared directly between individual computers. Each
machine continuously operates as both a client and a
Personal digital assistant (PDA) A small, portable handheld computer designed
primarily to handle contacts, schedules, e-mail, and
short notes. Some models have more advanced
features to support documents, spreadsheets, photos,
and music. A few have wireless connections; others
Point of sale (POS) system
have to be synchronized with desktops to transfer e-
mail and update schedules. Replaced by
The new IEC definition for quadrillion bytes in binary
(250) denoted PiB. It replaces the term petabyte
which is now to be used for decimal values.
Technically 2 raised to the 50th power or
1024*1024*1024*1024*1024 (5 times).
One quadrillion bytes of data. One step above
terabyte and one below exabyte. The new IEC
definition uses pebibyte for binary data and petabyte
for decimal values or 1015.
An implementation method that introduces the new
system in phases or steps. One phase is completed
before the next is undertaken. The pieces could be
software components, different divisions, different
locations, or a similar split.
Pronounced as fishing. The act of sending out false
messages, typically pretending to be from a bank, in
an attempt to get users to provide usernames and
passwords to access sensitive systems. Almost any e-
mail message purportedly sent to you by a financial
institution should be ignored. Anything that does not
include your name should be deleted immediately.
A standardized system created by Kodak to convert
photographs to digital (bitmap) form and store them
on optical disks.
A tool within Microsoft Excel used to extract and
organize data. It enables users to examine
aggregated data and quickly see the accompanying
Picture element, or a single dot on an image or video
An audio message distributed via a Web site designed
for storage and playback on an Apple iPod. But the
term today includes almost any type of audio file
A means of collecting data immediately when items
are sold. Cash registers are actually data terminals
that look up prices and instantly transmit sales data
to a central computer.
In an object design, different objects can have
methods that have the same name but operate
slightly differently. For example, a checking account
Portable document format
Pretty good privacy (PGP)
object and a savings account object could each have
a method called pay interest. The checking account
might pay interest monthly, whereas the savings
account pays it quarterly.
A file format often used on the Internet. It can
display documents with detailed precision, including
special fonts and shading. Defined by Adobe, readers
are freely available for many machines. Special
software must be purchased to create the files.
In computers, numeric precision represents the
number of digits stored to the right of the decimal
point. So, 10.1234 is more precise than 10.12;
however, it is not necessarily more accurate. The
original value might not have been measured beyond
Model parameters can be estimated from prior data.
Sample data is used to forecast future changes based
on the model.
A dual-key encryption system based on the Diffie-
Hellman approach similar to RSA. Created by Philip
Zimmermann and commonly used to encrypt e-mail.
Free copies for noncommercial use are still available
A column or set of columns that contains data to
uniquely identify each row in a relational database
table. For example, each customer must have a
unique identifier, possibly a phone number or an
internally generated customer number.
(1) The concept that people should be able to go
about their lives without constant surveillance, that
personal information about people should not be
shared without their permission. (2) Collecting
personal data only when you have a legitimate use
for it, allowing customers to correct and remove
personal data. Protecting confidential data so that it is
not released to anyone. Giving customers the option
so that you do not sell or lease their personal data.
In a dual-key encryption system, the key that is
protected by the owner and never revealed. It is
generally a very large number.
The line that identifies the primary components of the
system that are creating a specific problem.
Subsystems inside the boundary can be modified to
solve the problem or enhance the system.
Subsystems outside the boundary cannot be altered
at this time.
Instructions that help people use the systems. They
include items such as user manuals, documentation,
and procedures to ensure that backups are made
An activity that is part of a data flow diagram.
Systems can be built to process goods or to process
data. Most information system work focuses on
processes that alter data.
The use of computers to monitor and control the
production machines and robots. Production lines
generally use many different machines, each
requiring several adjustments or settings. Computer
control simplifies and speeds the setup.
Evaluating the entire firm to improve individual
processes, and to search for integrated solutions that
will reduce costs, improve quality or boost sales to
gain a competitive advantage. See also re-
The heart of a computer. It carries out the
instructions of the operating system and the
The ability to make your products appear different
from those of your rivals, thus attracting more
customers. Information systems have been used to
alter products and provide new services.
Writing program code requires defining the steps or
logic that the computer should follow to complete a
task. A program must also use the correct words,
symbols, and punctuation, known as syntax.
A method of restricting changes to Microsoft Office
files. A limited version of information rights
management that will allow people to read a
document but not make changes.
A set of definitions and standards that establish the
communication links on a network. Networks are
often classified by their choice of protocol. Common
protocols include Ethernet, Token Ring, and TCP/IP.
An iterative system design technique that takes
advantage of high-level tools to rapidly create
working systems. The main objective of prototyping is
to create a working version of the system as quickly
Pure Internet plays
Query by example (QBE)
Radio frequency identification
Random access memory (RAM)
Rapid application development
Read Only Memory (ROM)
as possible, even if some components are not
included in the early versions.
A loosely structured method to describe the logic of a
program or outline a system. It uses basic
programming techniques but ignores issues of syntax
and relies on verbal descriptions.
In a dual-key encryption system, the key that is given
to the public. Each person wishing to use dual-key
encryption must have a different public key. The key
works only in tandem with the user's private key.
Dot-com firms that have no direct tie to traditional
business. Firms that make all their revenue from
Internet sales or other Internet firms. A popular
concept in 1999, but most pure Internet firms failed
in 2000 and 2001.
A visual method of examining data stored in a
relational database. You ask questions and examine
the data by pointing to tables on the screen and filling
A method of retrieving data in a DBMS. It generally
uses a formal process to pose the questions (1) what
columns should be displayed? (2) what conditions are
given? (3) what tables are involved? and (4) how are
the tables connected? See query by example and
Small, passive computer chips that are powered by
radio waves. When triggered by a reader, the chip
returns data stored in its memory by modulating the
radio signals. Readable range is limited to a few feet
or less. If price drops far enough, they might replace
High-speed memory chips that hold data for
immediate processing. On most computers, data held
in RAM is lost when the power is removed, so data
must be moved to secondary storage.
The goal of building a system much faster than with
traditional SDLC methods. Using powerful tools
(database management system, high-level
languages, graphical toolkits, and objects), highly
trained programmers can build systems in a matter of
weeks or months. Using workgroups, communication
networks, and CASE tools, small teams can speed up
the development and design steps.
A type of memory on which data can be stored only
Really simple syndication
Reduced instruction set
Redundant array of
independent Disks (RAID)
Repetitive stress injury (RSI)
one time. It can be read as often as needed but
cannot be changed. ROM keeps its data when power
is removed, so it is used to hold certain core
programs and system data that is rarely changed.
A technique used with blogs to automatically push
new versions down to subscribers. Users can
configure a Web browser to connect to a favorite
blogger. New versions are automatically displayed on
When designing a RISC processor, the manufacturer
deliberately limits the number of circuits and
instructions on the chip. The goal is to create a
processor that performs a few simple tasks very fast.
More complex problems are solved in software.
Because RISC processors require fewer circuits, they
are easier to produce.
A system consisting of several smaller drives instead
of one large drive. Large files are split into pieces
stored on several different physical drives. The data
pieces can be duplicated and stored in more than one
location for backup. RAID systems also provide faster
access to the data, because each of the drives can be
searching through their part of the file at the same
A complete reorganization of a company. Beginning
from scratch, you identify goals along with the most
efficient means of attaining those goals, and create
new processes that change the company to meet the
new goals. The term reengineering and its current
usage were made popular in 1990 by management
consultants James Champy and Michael Hammer.
A database in which all data is stored in flat tables
that meet the normalization rules. Tables are logically
connected by matching columns of data. System data
—such as access rights, descriptions, and data
definition— are also stored in tables.
An injury that occurs from repeating a stressful
action. For instance, several people have complained
that constant typing damages their wrists. Ergonomic
design, adjusting your work space, and taking breaks
are common recommendations to avoid repetitive
If an attacker captures a set of network
transmissions, the attacker could replay those same
Request for proposal (RFP)
messages by sending them again to gain access to a
server or duplicate a financial transaction.
The intentional process of duplicating data in a
database so that it can be transported and accessed
in multiple locations. The DBMS has the ability to
synchronize data changes between the master copy
and any replicas.
A printed summary or screen display that is produced
on a regular basis by a database management
system. The main sections of a report are report
header, page header, group/break header, detail,
group/break footer, page footer, and report footer.
A list of specifications and questions sent to vendors
asking them to propose (sell) a product that might fill
The number of dots or pixels displayed per inch of
horizontal or vertical space. Input and output devices,
as well as images and video, are measured by their
resolution. Higher values of dots per inch yield more
The ultimate goal of object-oriented systems. By
defining an object up front and storing it in a
repository the object can be used in many
applications, instead of requiring developers to
recreate it every time a new system is built.
The process of taking older software and rewriting it
to modernize it and make it easier to modify and
enhance. Reverse engineering tools consist of
software that reads the program code from the
original soft-iware and converts it to a form that is
easier to modify.
Red-green-blue. A color scheme used for video
displays. Colors are specified by identifying the
desired strength of each primary color. In most
implementations the color value ranges from to 255
(one byte). See also CMYK.
Any group of firms that are competing for customers
and sales. Similar to competitors, but "competition"
carries an economic definition involving many firms.
Even an industry with two firms can experience
Three mathematicians who developed and patented a
dual-key encryption system. The term often refers to
the encryption technique. It is based on the
Search engine optimization
computational difficulty of factoring very large
numbers into their prime components.
Mathematically trained financial analysts who build
complex mathematical models of the stock market
and help create and price new securities.
A communication device that connects subnetworks
together. Local messages remain within each
subnetwork. Messages between sub-networks are
sent to the proper location through the router.
A horizontal element that contains all of the data to
describe an entity or object in a relational database or
A set of conditions that describe a problem or a
potential response. Generally expressed as "If... Then"
conditions. Used by expert systems to analyze new
problems and suggest alternatives.
An input device that reads electrical signals from a
microphone and stores the sound as a collection of
numbers. It measures the frequency and amplitude of
the sound waves thousands of times per second.
The ability to buy a faster computer as needed and
transfer all software and data without modification.
True scalability enables users to buy a smaller
computer today and upgrade later without incurring
huge conversion costs.
The process in any project where people keep trying
to add new features to the project. An easy way to
drive a project out of control. As the number of
features added begins to exceed the original plan, the
costs increase and the project is delayed.
A lazy attacker who downloads code from the
Internet to attempt to find and exploit known holes.
Can be stopped by ensuring your software contains
all current patches.
On a data entry form, a subform or section that is
designed to collect multiple rows of data. Much like a
spreadsheet, the user can move back and forth to
alter or examine prior entries.
A practice of making a Web site more compatible with
search engines. The goal is to make the page appear
higher in the list of results when users search for the
desired topic. Most good SEO techniques define the
page precisely so that it matches exactly how a
person perceives the page. Black hat or bad SEO
Secure sockets layer (SSL)
Service level agreement (SLA)
Simple object access protocol
methods try to trick the search engine— which usually
results in the site being blacklisted by the search
Data storage devices that hold data even if they lose
power. Typically cheaper than RAM, but slower. Disk
drives are common secondary storage devices.
A system that provides encryption for Internet
transmissions. Commonly used to establish a secure
connection between client browsers and e-commerce
servers. It is established with dual-key encryption by
installing a digital security certificate on the server.
The small lines, curlicues, and ornamentation on
many typefaces. They generally make it easier for
people to read words and sentences on printed
output. Sans serif typefaces have more white space
between characters and are often used for signs and
displays that must be read from a longer distance.
A collection of dozens or hundreds of smaller servers.
Software allocates tasks to whichever server is the
least busy. This approach to scalability is fault-
tolerant and easy to expand, but can be difficult to
A formal written agreement between a user group
and a service provider that specifies guaranteed
levels of service and compensation for failure to meet
those levels. SLAs are commonly used in outsourcing
deals to ensure the contracted party is providing
adequate levels of service, particularly with network
Microsoft's Web-based tool for teamwork. It supports
file sharing, version control, discussion groups, and
In a systems development life-cycle approach, the
approval that managers must give to forms, reports,
and computations at various stages of the
development. This approval is given when they sign
the appropriate documents.
A standard, easy-to-implement method of exchanging
information and messages among different computers
on the Internet. A protocol that works with XML to
support Web-based services.
Models are used to examine what might happen if we
decide to make changes to the process, to see how
the system will react to external events, or to
Software as a service (SaaS)
examine relationships in more detail.
A comprehensive security authentication system so
that users can log in (sign on) one time. Once the
user's identity has been established, all applications
obtain the credentials from a central server to
recognize the user and determine access rights.
A method used by attackers to obtain usernames and
passwords to obtain illegal access to a system. An
attacker might call a user and pretend to be a system
administrator asking for confirmation of a password.
Relatively easy to stop by never telling your password
to anyone. Systems administrators will never need
At one time, mainstream organizations were
identified by the quality of their presentation and
their image. Large firms spend millions of dollars on
graphic artists, professional designers, and
professional printing. The decreasing cost of
computers enables even small organizations to create
an image that is hard to distinguish from large
Contacts with friends and businesspeople. Many Web
sites such as Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube were built
to support social networking— enabling users to find
each other and share information online.
A collection of computer programs that are algorithms
or logical statements that control the hardware.
Selling software for usage or monthly fees instead of
charging a fixed upfront price. Easiest to implement
with cloud computing but it can also be done with in-
house software. Upgrades and maintenance are
typically included in the price and sometimes the
maintenance work is handled by the developing
The act of fixing problems, altering reports, or
extending an existing system to improve it. It refers
to changes in the software, not to hardware tasks
such as cleaning printers.
The act of copying software without paying the
copyright owner. With few exceptions (e.g., backup),
copying software is illegal. Companies and individuals
who are caught have to pay thousands of dollars in
penalties and risk going to jail. It is commonly
accepted that piracy takes money away from the
Solid state drive
development of improved software.
Collections of software packages that are designed to
operate together. Theoretically, data from each
package can be easily shared with data from the
others. So word processors can incorporate graphics,
and spreadsheets can retrieve data from the database
management system. Suites are often sold at a
substantial discount compared to buying each
A disk drive replacement or data storage mechanism
that uses electronic components to store data instead
of a movable platter. Most SSDs are similar to flash
drives but with greater capacity and faster data
One of the basic data types. There are two methods
to describe sound: samples or MIDI. Digitized
(sampled) sound is based on a specified sampling and
playback rate, and fits into frequency and amplitude
Unsolicited commercial e-mail, or junk mail.
Unwanted messages sent by commercial entities or
hackers trying to steal your system or your money. It
makes up over 50 percent of e-mail traffic. Most
nations have made it illegal, but it is hard to stop.
The name refers to a Hormel meat product, but its
use is often attributed to a Monty Python sketch.
The ability of a computer to capture spoken words,
convert them into text, and then take some action
based on the command.
Software that stealthily installs itself on your
computer, records your activities or keystrokes.
Commonly used by attackers who collect the data to
learn your account passwords. Extremely dangerous
because once installed it can gain total access to your
system. Software scanning tools can spot most
common spyware programs. Windows Vista has other
tools to prevent programs from installing themselves
without your knowledge.
A structured query language supported by most
major database management systems. The most
common command is of the form: SELECT column list
FROM table list JOIN how tables are related WHERE
condition ORDER BY columns.
procedures A set of procedures that define how employees and
Statistical quality control
Storage area network (SAN)
managers should deal with certain situations.
An agreement that specifies certain technical
definitions. Standards can be established by
committees or evolve over time through market
pressures. As technology changes, new standards are
Simple HTML pages that are changed only by
humans, so they are rarely changed. Generally used
only for the prepurchase information stage of e-
A means of combining data from two documents. A
copy of the original is placed into the new document.
Because it is static, changes made to the original
document are not automatically updated. See also
The statistical analysis of measurement data to
improve quality. Several statistical calculations and
graphs are used to determine whether fluctuations
are purely random or represent major changes that
need to be corrected.
A right to purchase a specific stock at a given price.
Often granted to workers and managers in start-up
companies. If the company grows rapidly, its stock
price should increase. The option owner can cash in
the options and receive the difference between the
current price and the option price.
A method of storing computer data on devices
attached to a high-speed local connection instead of
placing them into each computer. Separating data
from the computer and centralizing it makes it easier
to upgrade, control, and provide backups. Fiber optic
connections are often used for SAN drives.
Decisions that involve changing the overall structure
of the firm. They are long-term decisions and are
unstructured. They represent an attempt to gain a
competitive advantage over your rivals. They are
usually difficult and risky decisions. MIS support for
strategic decisions typically consists of gathering,
analyzing, and presenting data on rivals, customers,
Decisions -ithat can be defined by a set of rules or
procedures. They can be highly detailed, but they are
defined without resorting to vague definitions.
A review process in which the objective is to reveal
Subchapter S corporation
Supply chain management
Systems analysis and design
problems, inaccuracies, ambiguities, and omissions in
the system's design before the program code is
finalized. The users are presented with a prototype or
mockup of the pro-iposed system.
A legal variation of a corporation that can be chosen
by the owners. The IRS and some states impose
limits on the type of company that can elect this
option. It avoids the problem of double taxation by
passing income and losses directly to the owners'
personal income tax statements.
Organizing the entire supply process including vendor
selection, parts management, ordering, tracking,
payment, and quality control.
A network device used to connect machines. Unlike a
router, a switch creates a virtual circuit that is used
by a single machine at a time.
The costs incurred in creating a similar information
system when a customer switches to a rival firm.
Information technology creates switching costs
because customers would have to convert data, re-
create reports, and retrain users.
A method of sending data from multiple computers to
provide up-to-date data on both computers. Data
changes are sent to each computer participating in
the synchronization process to ensure each
participant has the same set of data.
The set of command words, symbols, and punctuation
used by a computer programming language. When
writing programs, you must type the exact words and
symbols so the computer understands what you want
it to do. See also programming logic.
An electronic device to convert electrical signals into
sound. One basic technique is FM synthesis, which
generates and combines fixed waves to achieve the
desired sound. A newer method combines short
digitized samples of various instruments with
waveforms to create more realistic sounds.
System operator. Person in charge of an electronic
bulletin board who organizes files and controls access
A collection of interrelated objects that work toward
A refinement of the scientific method that is used to
analyze and build information systems.
A common job in MIS. The analyst is responsible for
designing new systems. Analysts must understand
the business application and be able to communicate
with users. Analysts must also understand technical
specifications and programming details.
A formal method of designing and building
.. f . information systems. There are five basic phases: (1)
y feasibility and planning, (2) systems analysis, (3)
systems design, (4) implementation, and (5)
maintenance and review.
An older communication link provided by phone
companies. Used to carry digitized analog signals, it is
being replaced with ISDN links. Tl refers to a group
of 24 voice-grade lines and can carry 1.544 megabits
per second (Mbps). A T2 trunk line is equivalent to 96
voice circuits providing 6.312 Mbps. T3 provides
44.736 Mbps, and T4 can carry 139,264 Mbps.
Services can be leased at any of these levels, where
greater bandwidth carries higher costs.
A method of storing data in a relational database.
Tables contain data for one entity or object. The
columns represent attributes, and data for each item
is stored in a single row. Each table must have a
Tactical decisions typically involve time frames of less
than a year. They usually result in making relatively
major changes to operations but staying within the
exist-iing structure of the organization. MIS support
consists of databases, networks, integration, decision
support systems, and expert systems.
A method supported on the Internet that enables
users of one computer to log on to a different
computer. Once logged on to the new system, the
user is treated as any other user on the system.
The basic method of storing data in a DBMS. Each
table represents one object or entity. Relational
databases require that tables be defined following
specific data normalization rules.
The new IEC definition for trillion in base 2 (240). It
replaces terabyte which is to be used for decimal
numbers. Denoted with TiB.
A large, high-resolution video conferencing system
that has the goal of providing a distance meeting as
comfortable as in person.
Time division multiplexing
Total cost of ownership (TCO)
Total quality management
A method of creating objects such as forms, reports,
and Web sites to ensure that they follow the same
format. A designer creates a template and all objects
follow those design standards.
Approximately 1 trillion bytes of data. Technically, it is
2 to the 40th power or 1024*1024*1024*1024 (4
times). The step lower is gigabyte, the step above is
The simplest of the four basic data types, it also
includes numbers. In its most basic form, text is
made up of individual characters, which are stored in
the computer as numbers. More sophisticated text is
described by its typeface, font size, color, and
Simpler hardware than a full-blown personal
computer, with minimal software. It is generally used
to display applications running on the server and to
accept input from the user.
A method of sharing a communication medium with
multiple users where each computer is allowed to
send data for a specified amount of time, then
releases it to the next computer. Typically handled by
requiring devices to send short packets of data.
A communications protocol that describes when each
machine can send messages. A machine can transmit
only when it receives a special message called a
token. When the message is finished or a time limit is
reached, the token is passed to the next machine.
An approach to designing and building systems that
begins with an analysis of the entire company and
works down to increasing detail. A complete top-down
approach is usually impossible because it takes too
long to analyze everything. See also bottom-up
The cost of purchasing and running a client computer
(personal computer). A highly subjective number, it
typically includes the hardware cost, the software
license fees, maintenance costs, and training costs.
A management doctrine stating that quality must be
built into every process and item. Every step and
each person must be dedicated to producing quality
products and services.
A method in Microsoft Word that highlights the
changes made by each person. The original author
Transborder data flow (TBDF)
Turn -key systems
can then choose to accept or reject each change. A
useful groupware tool when several people need to
cooperate on writing a document.
A system that records and collects data related to
exchanges between two parties. This data forms the
foundation for all other information system
capabilities. MIS support typically consists of
databases, communication networks, and security
The transfer of data across national boundaries.
Some countries place restrictions on the transfer of
data, especially data that relates to citizens (and, of
course, data related to "national security"). Some
people have discussed taxing the flow of data.
The physical method of connecting communication
devices. The most common media in use are electrical
wires, fiber optics, and radio or micro waves.
In an expert system, if a rule is used in an
application, it is said to have been triggered or fired.
A special program that hides inside another program.
Eventually, when the main program is run, the Trojan
Horse program might delete files, display a message,
or copy data to an external computer.
Humans can distinguish about 16 million colors.
Devices that can display that many colors are said to
display true color. It requires the device to use 3
bytes (24 bits) for each pixel.
A test proposed by Alan Turing in which a machine
would be judged "intelligent" if the software could use
conversation to fool a human into thinking it was
talking with a person instead of a machine.
Computer application systems designed for a specific
task that can be installed easily. Common examples
include applications for specific types of businesses,
such as a system for physicians or dentists.
Common dual-line wire. Often packaged as three or
four pairs of wires. The cable can be run for only a
limited distance, and the signal is subject to
A login process that requires two types of systems for
identifying users. The most common examples are:
(1) username/password, and (2) a generator card
that creates a random number every minute that is
synchronized to the central computer.
Uninterruptable power supply
discovery, and integration
A defined way to draw a set of text characters.
Several thousand typefaces have been created to
meet different artistic and communication needs. A
common characterization is serif and sans serif
A wireless communication protocol that is radically
different from other wireless systems. Designed for
short range, the system uses very low power but very
high frequency bandwidth. The low power enables it
to be invisible to existing applications, so it can use
large amounts of bandwidth to send multiple bits of
data at the same time— transmitting in parallel form it
can quickly send large files. Proposed as a
replacement for physical connection cables,
particularly video connectors.
An international standard that defines character sets
for every modern (living) language and many extinct
languages (e.g., Latin).
A large battery and special circuitry that provide a
buffer between the computer and the power supply. It
protects the computer from spikes and brownouts.
A public Web-based directory system designed to
enable computers to find and use Web services
offered by other companies. For example, someday
your computer could automatically find all companies
that can use current exchange rates to convert prices.
A popular operating system created by Bell Labs. It is
designed to operate the same on hardware from
several different vendors. Unfortunately, there are
several varieties of UNIX, and software that operates
on one version often must be modified to function on
A model that cannot be solved for a single solution.
The solution might continually diverge, or it could
oscillate between several alternatives, generally due
to insufficient or incorrect feedback mechanisms.
To transfer files from a local computer (usually a
personal computer) to a distant computer. See also
People often resist change. Implementation of a new
system highlights this resistance. Managers and
developers must prepare for this resistance and
encourage users to change. Education and training
Virtual machine (VM)
are common techniques.
A description of the many steps involved in creating a
product or service. Each step adds value to the
product or service. Managers need to evaluate the
chain to find opportunities to expand the firm and
gain more sales and profits.
A stored collection of mathematical equations,
representing lines, circles, and points. These
equations can be rescaled to fit any output device or
to any desired size. Users deal with the base objects,
not the mathematical definitions.
Money offered by specialized firms to start up
companies. Banks rarely give money to start-ups, so
venture capitalists finance risky ventures in the hope
of high profits when the company goes public. Many
strings can be attached to the money— including a
loss of control.
Software that tracks changes made to other
documents. Often used in software development to
enable developers to go back to prior version. It is
also available for common business documents and
files. A limited version is embedded into Microsoft
One of the basic data types. Video combines the
attributes of images and sound. An important
attribute is the frames per second definition. U.S.
standard video operates at 30 frames per second,
movie films run at 24 frames per second. Digitizing
video requires capturing and playing back the frames
at the appropriate speed.
A meeting tool that transmits images and sound of at
least one participant. Often, video cameras are
available to everyone involved in the conference.
High-end systems enable the participants to control
A stored query. If you have a complex query that you
have to run every week, you (or a da-ita-ibase
specialist) could create the query and save it as a
view with its own name. It is then treated much like a
A software-based definition of a computer that is
stored and run on top of a physical computer. A single
physical computer can host several VMs. Physical
processors, RAM, disk space, and network
Virtual private network (VPN)
Virtual reality (VR)
Visual table of contents
Voice over Internet protocol
connections are shared among the VMs. Generally,
the physical elements can be reallocated to whichever
VM currently needs more capacity.
A collection of Web-based merchants who join
together for marketing purposes. Generally they
share a common Web host and the same commerce
server software. By sharing costs, they can survive
without a huge amount of sales.
Software installed on a company network and on each
client that automatically encrypts all communications
between the two; useful when workers travel or need
to reach the company servers from home using the
Virtual reality describes computer displays and
techniques that are designed to provide a realistic
image to user senses, including three-dimensional
video, three-dimensional sound, and sensors that
detect user movement that is translated to on-screen
A malicious program that hides inside another
program. As the main program runs, the virus copies
itself into other programs. At some point, the virus
displays a message, shuts down the machine, or
deletes all of the files.
A modern variation of the BASIC programming
language created by Microsoft for application
programming in Windows. A variation resides inside
many of the Microsoft applications, enabling
programmers to manipulate and exchange data
among the database, spreadsheet, and word
A graphical design method that shows how modules
of a system are related. Versions of the tech-inique
are also used to display menu trees.
A messaging system similar to telephone answering
machines but with additional features like message
store and forward. You can use your computer to
send messages to coworkers. There are tools that will
read e-mail and fax messages over the phone, so
managers can stay in touch while they are away from
Connecting telephones to the network and using the
Internet to transfer phone conversations— instead of
traditional phone lines.
Wide area network (WAN)
The ability of a computer to capture spoken words
and convert them into text.
A second generation of Web sites— dedicated to
providing shared services such as the social
Web 2.0 networking sites. The term is not precisely defined
and people disagree on what to include, but it
excludes first-generation text and EC sales sites.
Specialized IS worker who is responsible for creating,
w . maintaining, and revising a company's World Wide
Web site. Webmasters use technical and artistic skills
to create sites that attract browsers.
A utility supported by some operating systems and
the network registrars to provide information about
Whois the ownership of domain names and Internet access
connections. Unfortunately, many people lie (illegally)
when they fill out the required information.
A network that is spread across a larger geographic
area. In most cases, parts of the network are outside
the control of a single firm. Long-distance
connections often use public carriers.
Short for wireless fidelity. An early protocol for
defining wireless connections, commonly used in
homes and businesses. It has a relatively short range
(perhaps 100 meters). Transfer speeds initially were
less than 11 mbps (using 802.11b), but have
WiFi increased to 54 mbps (802.11a and 802. llg), and
are potentially up to 100 or 200 mbps (802. lln). The
higher speeds are achieved by using multiple
frequencies at the same time. Actual speeds are
considerably lower (as low as half the rated
A Web site designed to enable multiple people to
create and revise content. The most famous is
Wiki Wikipedia where anyone can create encyclopedic
entries. The tools can be used for business teamwork
Wi-Max A wireless technology designed for relatively high
speeds and medium distances— up to several
kilometers. It can support point-to-point
transmissions to create high-speed Internet
connections to service providers, or multipoint
systems to handle many users at the same time.
Clearwire and Sprint led the way at installing the
technology in the U.S. and joined forces in 2007.
World Wide Web (WWW)
A portion of the computer screen. You can move each
window or change its size. Windows enable you to
display and use several applications on the screen at
A level above knowledge. Wisdom represents
intelligence, or the ability to analyze, learn, adapt to
changing conditions, and create knowledge.
A type of groupware that is designed to automate
forms handling and the flow of data in a company.
Forms and reports are automatically routed to a list of
users on the network. When each person adds
comments or makes changes, it is routed to the next
Computers attached to a network, designed for
individual use. Typically, personal computers.
A first attempt to set up an inter-ination-ial database
of information. Web browsers display graphical pages
of information, including pictures. Hypertext
connections enable you to get related information by
clicking highlighted words.
What you see is what you get. With a true WYSIWYG
system, documents will look exactly the same on the
screen as they do when printed. In addition to
format, it means that the printer must have the same
typefaces as the video display. Color printers use a
system to match the colors on the monitor.
The IEC term for binary counting with the value 270.
It replaces zettabyte, which is to be used for decimal-
Attacks on computers that are based on flaws found
in software that have not yet been patched. The zero-
day means attackers found the flaw before or
simultaneously with security researchers.
In the IEC definition, it is the decimal base number
1021. It falls above zettabyte and below yottabyte.
The binary version is called zebibyte.
Amazon.com offers small companies a relatively
inexpensive e-commerce solution with little or no
fixed costs. Useful for small firms, the system
provides marketing, visibility, and a payment
mechanism. Amazon more commonly refers to
Marketplace shops, but zShops was the original title.
By 2010 it was renamed to the Webstore.