Information Management Systems

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If businesspeople from the early 1900s had been able to look ahead and foresee the 21st century corporate landscape, it's likely they would have been amazed by the role information plays in today's economy. Not only does the world rely more heavily on information than ever before, the speed at which it must travel and the ways in which it must be organized and accessed are critical. This stands in stark contrast to the days before e-mail, database systems, and fax machines, when it was acceptable to wait weeks for a letter to travel between business partners in different cities.

As information began to take center stage in the business world, systems were required to manage its many uses. Information management systems evolved for this purpose. These systems involve the collection, identification, analysis, storage, presentation, and distribution of information. They play central roles in many business processes, including transactions and communication within organizations, and between companies and their many business partners (suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, vendors, and customers).

According to the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), "the center of an effective business infrastructure in the digital age is the ability to capture, create, customize, deliver, and manage enterprise content to support business processes." AIIM identified several information management technologies that play key roles in the success and development of e-business, including: content and document management, enterprise portals, business process management, image and knowledge management, data mining, and data warehousing.

In addition to facilitating many different processes, information management systems are often used for specific global uses or applications. For example, organizations use human resource information systems (HRIS) to manage important employee data such as job classifications, pay ranges, salaries, income tax withholdings, benefit information, and so on. In the healthcare industry, physician practices, hospitals, healthcare systems, and insurance companies use these systems to manage information about patients, including medical records and data that can be used to tailor communications with them based on medical conditions or interest areas. In the realm of e-commerce, information management systems are used to organize and process complex arrays of data regarding products and customers. Information about a company's inventory of available items might be stored in an information management system, along with specific data regarding customer orders.

In the early 2000s, Borders Books and Music relied on database technology from Oracle to align the marketing efforts of its physical retail stores with its Web initiatives. It did this by providing in-store kiosks that featured Title Sleuth, the search tool found at, so that customers could easily search for in-stock titles. If a specific title was not found, Title Sleuth suggested related books on the store's shelves and gave customers an option to order by credit card for home delivery. The kiosks also provided added information like book reviews and author interviews. Borders also used a separate customer relationship management (CRM) system to centralize and manage customer data for targeted marketing campaigns.


Agnew, Marion. "CRM Plus Lots of Data Equals More Sales for Borders." InformationWeek, May 7, 2001.

Waltz, Mitzi. "Oracle E-business Suite Draws Cautious Interest." InformationWeek, October 16, 2000.

SEE ALSO: Data Mining; Data Warehousing; Database Management; Knowledge Management

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Information Management Systems

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