Understanding the 10 Fundamentals of Any Business - Page 2

Oct 25, 2007

Eric Feldman

The study of international business is a cross-functional discipline involving other topics such as economics, marketing, finance, and organization behavior. Cultural issues, for example, must be analyzed when marketing a product to another country. Financial issues such as cost of capital and currency exchange rates also affect decisions involving international IT investments.

Management Information Systems

The discipline of management information systems (MIS) is the study of the application of people, process, and technology to solve business problems. Many mistake this term with information systems (or IS) itself, which is specifically concerned with the processing of data and is generally associated with computer science. From this perspective, IS may be considered a component of MIS.

This traditional definition of MIS is often represented with systems that go by other names—including decision support systems, business intelligence systems and knowledge management systems. In addition, IT service management is often considered to be related to MIS.

You may be using a variety of skills and methods to plan and implement one of these management systems—including business process analysis, enterprise architecture, systems integration, database administration and application development.

Management Science

One definition of this discipline is the science of making decisions using mathematics or statistical analysis. The key point is to rely upon a systematic approach of using logic or reason, rather than a “seat-of-the-pants” method to make business decisions.

One can readily see how this may or may not work in practice. If you are a support representative helping diagnose an incident of a failed customer’s system, you will probably rely upon your experience and intuition rather than a formula in a spreadsheet. Clearly, not all technical issues can be explained using a mathematical formula.

On the other hand, having skills in management science topics such as optimization or forecasting may be important for the IT practitioner. There are many technical decisions that are best served by objective logic, especially when large sums of investment capital are at stake. When choosing the appropriate mainframe or SAN capacity, or determining how much bandwidth to contract for in a WAN circuit, it probably best not to rely on a “gut feeling” alone.


Many people think of marketing as synonymous with advertising or brand management. In reality, it is a multi-disciplinary craft that involves many aspects of a business. For example, there is a marketing framework called the “marketing mix” that includes upwards of seven activity sets to help define products and services.

Understanding these “seven P’s of marketing” can be invaluable in enabling your IT organization to become a strategic partner in your enterprise.

  • Product – The documented services offered by your organization;
  • Price – The cost or value of the delivered services;
  • Promotion – Articulating the value your IT or technology organization brings to the company;
  • Place – The channels by which you provide services, such as in a datacenter, in remote offices, or over the Internet;
  • People – The capabilities and training of your staff;
  • Process – The procedures by which a service is created, requested and delivered from IT; and
  • Physical Evidence – The tangible “proof” of the characteristics of a service, such as the availability of an IT service catalog or the documentation of a service level agreement associated with a service.
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