Academic journal article Journal of Information Technology Education

Business Informatics: An Engineering Perspective on Information Systems

Academic journal article Journal of Information Technology Education

Business Informatics: An Engineering Perspective on Information Systems

Article excerpt


Over the last few decades, universities have offered various courses in management, information technology, computer science, software engineering and more recently information systems, information management, and business informatics. Several of these courses have been established at most universities, and in particular the growth of information technology (IT) and information systems (IS) related programmes are expected to continue. However, recently there are concerns that the number of students registered for information systems related courses could stagnate or fall (Granger et al. 2007). In the United Kingdom (UK) the numbers of students studying information systems dropped from 41,440 students in 2004/05 to 35,765 students in 2005/06 (Higher Education Statistics Agency, 2007), creating significant problems for many information systems departments. While, at the same time, a more applied and professionally orientated computing and information systems education is required and demanded (Denning, 2001).

As the student figures illustrate, the rapid changes in recent years require constant evaluation and modification of education programmes in order to make them attractive and suitable for students. Indeed, claims that Information Technology (IT) is no longer a source of strategic advantage have generated a growing concern over the loss of technology-orientated jobs (Carr, 2003). It will increase the emphasis on 'business-orientated' Information Technology jobs (Benamati & Mahaney, 2004).

Generally, it is expected that demand for subjects such as application design and integration, enterprise architecture, information management, and business process management will increase (Traylor, 2003). The demand for graduates capable of coordinating complex information and supply chain networks and project mangers managing global IT projects is also expected to rise (Lower, 2005). Students may also need to understand how to manage project teams, especially geographically and ethnically diverse teams. On the other hand, innovations in information and software technology should also be considered as key elements of information systems (e.g. Benbasat & Zmud, 2003; Orlikowski & Iacono, 2001).

Universities are expected to provide a broad business and real world perspective, strong analytical and critical thinking skills, and interpersonal communication and team skills as well as core knowledge of information systems. These skills should be combined with a solid methodological foundation in design and implementation of information technology solutions that enhance organizational performance (Disterer, Fels & Hausotter, 2003; Gorgone, Davis, Valacich, Topi, Feinstein & Longenecker, 2002). Faculties in universities are increasingly under pressure and are expected to offer attractive and profitable study programmes. Schools with traditional computing degree programmes are developing variations in many of their IT programmes (Laundry, Pardue, Longenecker, & Feinstein, 2003). Business schools are offering various types of management information systems courses and courses with a computing element.

Although attempts have been made to develop frameworks for information systems (e.g. Bacon & Fitzgerald, 2001) and to provide references for curricula, study programmes are diverse. Common reference curricula related to information systems are for example the IS 2002: Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Degree Programs in Information Systems (Gorgone, Davis, Valacich, Topi, & Feinstein et al., 2002); the MSIS 2000: Model Curriculum and Guidelines for Graduate Degree Programs in Information Systems (Gorgone et al., 2000). Among faculty, there is often discussion about the direction of IS programmes. Different programmes aim to emphasize selected aspects of information systems (e.g. Benbasat & Zmud, 2003; DeSanctis, 2003; Galliers, 2003; Klein & Hirschheim, 2003; Lyytinen & King, 2004; Orlikowski & Iacono, 2001; Robey, 2003; Straub, 2003). …

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