Information systems (IS) and information technology (IT) are often considered synonymous. In reality, information technology is a subset of information systems.
The perception that these terms can be used interchangeably can cause confusion for individuals interested in pursuing a technology-related career. Although both these fields deal with computers, they have distinct characteristics and specific career paths that require different education and training.
Information systems are collections of computers, networks, software, and people who create, store, modify, and distribute data and information in any organisation. Computers and information technology (IT) are key ingredients of modern information systems (IS). Information technology includes computing devices such as personal computers, notebook computers, personal digital assistants, mobile phones, and various types of networks that allow the computing devices to connect and to communicate.
Let us distinguish between information technology (IT) and information systems (IS). IT is understood as the artefacts such as computing devices, software and network devices that constitute the material aspects of IS. However, information systems are constituted by the artefacts of technology as well as the people and organisations that use them.
This distinction between IT and IS is important and has to be emphasised. IT is what people buy and configure and use, whereas IS is the manner in which we understand, conceptually, the use of IT in organisations and by people. Here is an example to understand the difference.
Any organisation may buy IT components such as printers that are provided to offices for their printing needs. The printer itself is an artefact of IT, which is a tangible object or a tool. Its function is well defined and limited: it has to print text or images on paper in a manner defined by the user of the printer.