What Are the Six Elements in an Information System?

The six key elements or functions of an information system are to capture data, transmit data, store data, retrieve data, manipulate data and display data. Information systems are usually computerized and provide management and employees with timely information concerning an organization's performance.

Systems that are designed and marketed toward recurring, predictable management functions are sometimes called management information systems. A scheduled stockholders' report is an example of a report created by an MIS.

Even with the advent of cheaper personal computer technology, mainframe computers maintained a significant presence in enterprise-level computing through the early 2000s. Mainframes were the starting point for management information systems in the period before microcomputers became popular in the 1970s. The Internet further expanded the scope and complexity of information systems, allowing videoconferencing, webcasting, real-time exchange of information and more access for a greater number of users.

The planning, deployment and administration of an information system necessitates that many factors be considered: cost, modularity, expandability, processing power required, lifespan of equipment, usability for users of the system and the compatibility of software and hardware that run on it. Users may be designated with permissions for which types of activities they are allowed to perform on the system. User names and passwords need to be issued and administered. One of the most primary functions of managing an information system is minimizing downtime, to zero if at all possible. Prolonged unexpected downtime can be very detrimental to any business in terms of lost productivity, sales and customers.