Computer and information systems manager or CIS manager is the title given to a person in charge of the overall computer operations of a company. This person, also know as the information systems manager or IT manager may also be a director responsible for planning, coordinating and directing all computer-related activities of firms.
Computer and information systems managers play a vital role in the technological direction of their organisations, from constructing the business plan to overseeing network security or directing internet operations. The way in which organisations use technology is critical to remaining competitive.
Computer and information systems managers help determine both technical and business goals in consultation with top management and make detailed plans for the accomplishment of these goals. For example, working with their staff, they may effectively plan and coordinate activities such as installation and upgrading of hardware and software, programming and systems design, development of computer networks, and implementation of Internet and intranet sites.
They are increasingly involved with the upkeep, maintenance and security of networks. CIS managers analyse the computer and information needs of their organisations from an operational and strategic perspective and determine immediate and long-range personnel and equipment requirements. They assign and review the work of their subordinates and stay abreast of the latest technology to ensure the organisation does not lag behind competitors.
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook computer and information systems managers are often called by different titles depending on their duties and the nature of the organisation. For instance:
Chief technology officers evaluate the newest technologies and determine how these can help their organisations to become more competitive. They are constantly on the lookout for trends and developments that could benefit their organisations.
Management information systems directors (MIS) are often used in firms which have a variety of user services, such as call-centre operations, where employees and customers can call with questions or problems. They make hardware and software upgrade recommendations and ensure that data is secure and available at all times. In South Africa, where there is a growth in call centre activity, there is an increasing demand for experienced MIS specialists.
Project managers, see later
LAN/WAN (local area network/wide area network) managers provide a variety of services, from design to administration of the local area network, which connects staff within an organisation. They direct the network and its computing environment, including hardware, systems software, applications software, and all other computer-related configurations.
Information systems consultants offer their services to wide range of companies. They play a similar role to the CIS manager in that they develop and manage information systems. However, as a consultant they often come with pre-developed computer / business solutions which can be adapted and integrated into the clients systems. Where appropriate, consultants assess the suitability of available applications and adapt existing software for particular uses. They may be involved in the design or restructuring of business processes supported by information systems.
Because CIS managers are called on to make important business decisions, they need considerable experience in both computer information systems and management. The requirements for employment are often experience with the specific software or technology used on the job, and a background in either consulting or business management. Information systems consultants need a combination of technical expertise and business-related training or experience.
However, few consultants are hired directly out of university unless they have previous business experience. Most computer science graduates must first gain experience in computer programming, and acquire education or experience related to business administration or management. Information systems consultants must continuously upgrade their knowledge to keep up with changing methods and technologies.
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