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Information System and Its Four Components

An information system is an interconnected set of tools, methods, and personnel used to store, process, and deliver information to achieve an individual goal. In today’s environment, the primary technical means of processing information is a personal computer. Most modern information systems transform data rather than information. Therefore, they are often called data processing systems. Organizations are increasingly investing heavily in systems that can help them survive a rapidly changing and competitive environment (Reynolds & Stair, 2016). There is a specific set of components that together make up the information system.

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Hardware is a set of technical means involved in the process of information conversion in the system. This category includes the physical parts of the system – the computers themselves, both personal and server, and all auxiliary equipment (Stair & Reynolds, 2017). Among the last ones, there can be distinguished storage and communication devices, engineering equipment, etc. Their cost is continuously decreasing, but the speed with the advent of new assembly technologies is increasing. For this reason, companies are forced to update their hardware from time to time.


The term software refers to system and application computer programs and is an intangible part of an information system. These programs perform the work inside the hardware parts of the system and must produce information from the source data (Behl et al., 2019). They can be presented as instruction that guides the work of the hardware. The software is divided into two types – system, for example, Android, and application, for example, Microsoft Word.


It is all the data that programs use to get the necessary information. This category includes primary data, system data, calculation data, application data, regulatory reference information, and more. Like programs, data is usually held on special storage devices, waiting until the system uses it (Stair & Reynolds, 2017). Data, as well as programs, are not material and, divided into parts, may not be useful. However, collected and processed within the information system, it is a powerful tool for the business.

Network and People

Computers can exist and work without a network, but in the modern world, it is quite a rare case. The network is part of hard and software, but it has become a separate component because of its extreme importance. Researchers also often highlight a fifth component – people (Behl et al., 2019). Every system needs people to whom it will be useful and who will ensure its work. It is the presence of people that distinguishes the information system from the set of software and hardware. People create the system itself, programs, regulations under which they enter, receive, and process the necessary information and ensure the operation of the system.


Contemporary information systems are not just a means of automation and efficiency but an integral part of the business. They resolve the problem of the information’s amount that needs to be collected, stored reliably, and processed quickly. There are a few components that together ensure the functioning of a system. Hardware, software, data and network are the four main, but usually, researchers distinguish one more vital component – people.


Behl, R., O’Brien, J. A. &Marakas G. M. (2019). Management information systems (11th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.

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Reynolds, G. & Stair, R. (2016). Principles of information systems (12th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Stair, R., & Reynolds, G. (2017). Fundamentals of information systems (9th ed.). Cengage Learning.

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