Knowing what constitutes the physical structure of a management information system gives you insight into how it works and helps you use it more effectively. When you are aware of the flow of information through physical components, you have a better understanding of where individual data comes from and what influences data validity. Once you know where to find your data, you can assess the risks and increase security if necessary.
Employees working with fundamental business information, such as orders received, sales, invoices, and payments, enter data into desktop computers. Marketing and production often add additional operating information through their department’s computers. The computers are each connected to routers and central servers via special cables of an Ethernet network. While wireless networks are more convenient because you don’t need cables, many businesses prefer wired networks because of their higher level of security. When evaluating a management information system, make sure that the input data includes the information you need and that it is transmitted securely to servers.
Even small businesses generate large amounts of data for the system to record, store for long term use, and back up if something goes wrong. Typical management information systems store the raw data that employees enter into databases and further record who entered the data, any reports that users create with the data, and who accessed the data. You can store data on site or in remote data centers accessible through the Internet. While businesses store most critical data on onsite computers and hard drives, less critical data is often stored remotely. Remote storage can serve as a backup if something happens to destroy home office data.
A central server in your facilities manages the processing. It runs the main program which calls the data from the database and performs the necessary calculations. When you want a report of sales and profit totals each year for the past five years, the raw data is in the database, but the totals may not be. The server takes your request, finds the individual sales and profit figures, adds them up, and displays the results. If you now decide that a percentage change for each year would be more useful, the server calculates that.
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The server that processes your request completes the calculations and sends the results over the Ethernet network to your computer. At first, it usually displays the results on your screen. Often, you can configure the output report to display the data in tables or charts and request a format that allows you to distribute a paper report or email a digital file. The server processes your request and provides you with the corresponding output file to print or email.
Biography of the writer
Bert Markgraf is a freelance writer with a solid background in science and engineering. He started writing technical articles while working as an engineer in the 1980s. More recently, after starting his own computer business, he helped organize an online community for which he wrote and edited articles as as editor, business and economics. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from McGill University.