For those who love technology and have the aptitude, a career in information systems (IS) is a good choice. According to a recent report by CNN Money, information systems security engineers enjoy one of the best jobs in America in terms of growth potential, quality of life, and pay. With a wealth of books, journals, blogs, and other resources available online, students considering a tech career can easily explore the field of information systems.
Becoming a member of a professional organization offers a number of benefits; networking and educational opportunities abound, and most come with discounts on products and services IS professionals need. In addition, many associations publish journals, magazines, and newsletters that help aspiring IS specialists keep current on the latest news, trends, and techniques in the IS field.
- American Society for Information Science and Technology - Founded in 1937, ASIS&T strives to bridge gaps between disciplines and "between the research that drives and the practices that sustain new development." Members receive subscriptions to Journal of American Society for Information Science and Technology, as well as the group's bi-monthly Bulletin. Networking opportunities are available through local chapters, annual conferences, and summits. Aspiring IS professionals find positions on its Jobtarget board and at the annual meeting's Placement Center. A digital library, webinars, and a variety of discounts are also available to members.
- Association for Computing Machinery - ACM's 100,000 plus members make this association "the world's largest educational and scientific computing society." Membership comes with access to more than 50 ACM journals and magazines, including Communications of the ACM, the thrice weekly digest TechNews, the monthly MemberNet, and CareerNews. At the online learning center, members find books and courses, including those leading toward certification. Member job seekers and employers post resumes and positions at the ACM Career & Job Center.
- Association for Information Systems - With members in over 90 countries, the AIS styles itself as "the premier professional association for individuals and organizations who lead the research, teaching, practice, and study of information systems worldwide." A variety of memberships are available, including both student and professional memberships. Members enjoy AIS' eLibrary of 10 prestigious academic journals. Access to the Americas, European, International, and Pacific Asia Conferences on Information Systems are included in membership as well.
- Data Management Association International - This "global association of technical and business professionals" offers a number of benefits to young information systems professionals through its local chapters. Networking opportunities are found at various chapter events. Discounts for training, including the University of Washington Extension's Data Resource Management Certificate Program, are available to members, as well as DAMA publications like its Dictionary of Data Management 2011.
- International Association for Computer Information Systems - "Dedicated to the improvement of information systems and the education of . . . professionals," the IACIS offers a number of benefits for information systems professionals. Members have the opportunity to present their original research at the annual national conference and publish it via conference proceedings or in the respected journal Issues in Information Systems. A subscription to IACIS' Journal of Computer Information Systems is also included in the membership.
- ISACA - Previously called the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, ISACA is now simply known for its acronym. Founded in 1967, today the ISACA has over 110,000 global members in more than 200 chapters worldwide. Academic, student, and professional memberships are available. Student members enjoy networking opportunities through local groups as well as the collaborative Knowledge Center. Access to the association's eLibrary and the ISACA Journal are included in the membership.
- Information Systems Security Association - Catering to information security professionals, this organization seeks to "promote management practices that will ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information resources." Membership in the ISSA includes a subscription to ISSA Journal, a monthly publication. Networking opportunities are found at national conferences and chapter meetings. Members also enjoy continuing education through seminars, web conferences, and industry webinars. The ISSA's job board helps aspiring information systems professionals find and build great careers.
- Women in Technology International - Focusing on the promotion of women in the field of information systems, WITI has become "the world's leading trade association for tech-savvy women." Members enjoy access to educational opportunities, including webinars and tele-classes, and the chance to give back through a mentorship program. Numerous discounts are also included in the membership, including for WITI and partner events, personal branding services, and conference fees. On WITI's Career Center, members can post and browse open positions and resumes.
The 21st century has seen an explosion in free content, particularly from academia. With dozens of classes and a myriad of open courseware available, aspiring information systems specialists can develop expertise while maintaining a tight budget.
- Health Information Systems to Improve Quality of Care in Resource-Poor Settings - MIT - The collaboration of several organizations, including Partners in Health and Sana, inspires students to identify how information systems can be used in developing countries to improve health outcomes, build up organizational infrastructure, and improve collaboration in health care delivery. Video and audio lectures and notes, as well as student projects and papers are available. This course is appropriate for both undergraduate and graduate students.
- Health Information Technology Standards and Systems Interoperability - JHSPH - Offered by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, this course covers health information technology (HIT) and integrated data systems at all levels (local, state, national and international). Both HIT standards and processes for standardization are covered. Lecture presentations and Mp3s are provided as well as a selected reading list.
- Information technology: A new era? - OpenLearn - Requiring 15 hours of study at an intermediate level, students who complete this course will develop an understanding of how the dynamics of an industry can be seen as a "life cycle," as well as better grasp the relationship between technological innovation and the creation of new industries. Students will also explore the interconnections between economic productivity and technology, and the use of case studies and historical data.
- Information Technology as an Integrating Force in Manufacturing - MIT - Prof. Brian Subirana provides selected lecture notes and videos from this course, originally offered in 2003. The class is designed to provide an overview of the fundamental principles of information systems, as well as trends in applying it in a manufacturing setting. Guest speaker Richard Rowe is highlighted in one of the sessions. Among the resources provided is a bibliography and study questions. Note: some of this content may be outdated as the course is 10 years old.
- Information Theory - Utah State - Prof. Todd Moon of the Electrical and Computer Engineering department explores the limits of human ability to represent and transmit information. Concepts such as information entropy and channel and source coding theorems will also be covered. Students who complete this course will develop the background to help them move on to topics such as signal processing, pattern recognition, and data compression.
- Intensive Introduction to Computer Science - Harvard - Lecturer David J. Malan presents this accelerated yet general course that goes beyond information systems to include an overview of software development and design, languages, and operating systems. Through a series of two-hour long lectures, students of information systems get free instruction on cryptography, forensics, websites, security, and networks.
- Introducing Ethics in Information and Computer Sciences - OpenLearn - Open University offers this advanced level course through its educational technology department. Requiring 40 hours of study, this class examines ethical questions raised in plays and dialogues, as well as real life situations in IT, through discussion. Media examined include Plato's Protagoras, Meno and Gorgias, Katie Hims' Call Waiting, and Joe Penhall's Landscape with Weapon.
- Integrating eSystems & Global Information Systems - MIT - Taught by Prof. Stuart Madnick of the Sloan School of Management, this course examines the technologies, strategies, and organizational connectivity necessary to have information properly integrated into systems. Lecture notes, assignments, exams, and a list of past projects, including case studies, are available to guide self-study. As a cross-listed class, its content is appropriate for both graduate and undergraduate students.
Open Access Journals
Like colleges and universities, scholarly journals are increasingly making their content freely available online as well. The following journals are an excellent resource to keep IS professionals current on the latest discoveries and analyses from academia:
- Australasian Journal of Information Systems - Covering core information systems theory and research approaches and applications, this open access journal appeals to a wide array of IS professionals. Focusing on Australasian content, articles and editorials are accepted. Recent papers include "Using Historical Methods in Information Systems: A Primer for Researchers," and "Beyond Normal Competencies: Understanding Organisation Designs to Develop and Sustain IT-Related Capabilities."
- Electronic Journal of Information Systems Evaluation - Contributing to theory and practice in information technology and information systems, this journal focuses on the implications of systems evaluation for managers and organizations. Critical as well as empirical and theoretical papers, reports, and book reviews may be accepted after double-blind review. Representative articles include "Exception-Based Approach for Information Systems Evaluation: The Method and its Benefits to Information Systems Management," and "Broadening Information Systems Evaluation Through Narratives."
- Enterprise Information Systems - Published bi-monthly, this rigorously peer-reviewed journal focuses on the technical aspects and cross-disciplinary problems of integrating enterprise information systems. Topics frequently include enterprise resource planning, modeling, engineering, and management. Popular articles include "Modelling and analysis of workflow for lean supply chains," and "The adaptive approach for storage assignment by mining data of warehouse management system for distribution centres."
- Information Security Journal: A Global Perspective - Presenting reviews of the field of security from the inside, IS professionals find articles on trends, innovations, and emerging technology. Accepted papers typically have a "how-to" approach and have been approved by at least two experts in the subject. In this hybrid journal, some articles should be available freely via open access, while others require a subscription.
- Information Systems Management - In keeping with its goal of advancing IS management practice, this journal publishes best practices as well as academic research. Papers undergo a double-blind peer review and the editors prefer field research based on case studies, surveys, and experiences. As a hybrid journal, some articles require a subscription to access while others, including "Rules of Crowdsourcing: Models, Issues, and Systems of Control," are free through open access.
- Issues in Information Systems - This is a publication of the International Association for Computer Information Systems. The articles of this double-blind, refereed publication are freely available online. Published in conjunction with the IACIS's annual conference, most papers in the journal were presented there. Representative articles include "Evaluating and Implementing Load and Performance Testing Tools to Test Adobe Flex," and "Other Rich Internet Applications: A Case Study' and 'Exploring Accounting Information Systems and Embezzlement from Nonprofit Organizations."
- Journal of Information Systems and Technology Management - Publishing top-quality academic scholarship in the areas of information science and technology and systems, papers accepted by this open access journal have undergone a double-blind review. Representative articles include "The Development of Value Systems and the Role of Information Systems in the Portuguese Insurance Industry," and "Information Systems in Marketing Planning: in Search for Competitive Advantage."
- Systems - This peer-reviewed journal publishes both empirical and theoretical original research on a wide array of systems, including management, social, socio-technical, and information. In keeping with its goal of providing as much detail as possible, there is no length restriction on papers, and accepted submissions are published immediately online. One recent article of interest to information systems professionals may be "CRISIS: A System for Risk Management."
There are hundreds of books designed to help information systems professionals at all levels become even more proficient in the field. Young IS specialists are encouraged to take the time to delve deeper into the subject. This list is just a sample of the best reads in IT:
- Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think - From Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier, editor of The Economist, comes this meditation on the risks and benefits of collecting and analyzing vast quantities of data. Covering topics from privacy to prediction, economic efficiency and the "fetishization" of data, this book is a must read for aspiring information systems specialists.
- Guide to Disaster Recovery - In this book, written by Michael Erbschloe, network professionals explore the principles necessary to recover from disasters: recovery plans, risk assessments, policies and procedures, clear delineation of roles within the organization, and plan testing.
- Time Management for Systems Administrators - Written by Thomas Limoncelli, this helpful read teaches busy system administrators how to better manage the innumerable quick fixes required in every organization, while still completing longer term projects. With tips and strategies for sticking with daily goals while still managing crises, this book helps administrators at every level improve their overall performance.
- Violent Python: A Cookbook for Hackers, Forensic Analysts, Penetration Testers and Security Engineers - TJ O'Connor demonstrates how systems administrators can use the Python programming language to create their own weapons to defend against hackers. Script writing, extracting metadata, network attacks and investigating forensic artifacts are all covered. Presented from both a hacker and network defender perspective, The Ethical Hacker Network called this book "an excellent resource."
Online Information Systems Magazines
Less rigid than academic journals and updated frequently, online magazines help information systems professionals keep abreast of the latest developments in the industry with news, analysis, product reviews, commentaries, and case studies.
- CIO - Since 1987, CIO has provided insight and analysis on IT to chief information officers and other technology leaders. News, analysis, blogs, and videos abound. On its How-To page, information systems specialists find case studies and hands-on advice for choosing and implementing new technologies. Representative articles include "Appeals court strikes down FCC's net neutrality rule," and "Target Hackers Have More Data Than They Can Sell."
- CSO Online - Publishing news, research, and analysis on all things security, information security professionals find appealing articles on CSO. Job seekers take advantage of the CSO Security Jobs Board, while all IS specialists benefit from reading articles like "How to securely get started using SDN," and "7 ways to work around security compliance problems."
- Hakin9 - Providing the best solutions and trends to the latest security issues, this magazine appeals to hackers and security professionals alike. Although recent tips from Hakin9 require purchase or a subscription, some content has been made available for free online.
- Information Week - Designed to be the place where "senior-level IT buyers and decision-makers come to learn and share," Information Week is divided into nine separate communities including Big Data, Security, Infrastructure, and Strategic CIO. Recent articles include "5 Ways Enterprise WiFi Will Advance in 2014," and "Why the Datacenter is the Center of the Universe."
- Info World - Styling itself the "leading source of information on emerging enterprise technologies," Info World provides analysis and commentary on the latest trends in the field. At its unique Test Center, professional reviews of enterprise software and hardware can be found. Featured White Papers include "DDos Attack Mitigation: Ongoing Preparedness Works Best," and "Case Study: Keeping 40K E-Commerce Sites Reliable and Fast."
- (IN)SECURE - Providing free, digital content, (IN)SECURE explores the world of hacking and internet security. Topics include malware, mobile threats, web app security, and forensics. Representative articles include "Dear CSO, do you know how to build a security culture," and "Penetrating and achieving persistence in highly secured networks."
- SC Magazine - Specifically geared toward IS security professionals, this online publication provides "in-depth, unbiased business and technical information" to help mitigate risk and manage security challenges. News, analysis, features, and product reviews are included. Recent posts include the feature article "CISO: The great enabler?" and the video "Securing small to medium sized enterprises in the cloud."
- Wired - With a full array of all things tech, Wired seeks to be "the first word on how ideas and innovation are changing the world," and much of the magazine is devoted to issues that appeal to information systems specialists. On its Security page, IS professionals find articles like, "I Spent Two Hours Talking With the NSA's Bigwigs. Here's What Has Them Mad," and under Enterprise, stories such as "Tech Time Warp of the Week: AT&T's Flight Information System, 1989."
Informal and typically conversational, blogs are an enjoyable, easy way to keep current on developments. Information systems specialists at all levels can find topical, appealing content from the blogs in this list.
- Apophenia - Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU, Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center, and Principal Researcher for Microsoft, Danah Boyd's blog delves into a variety of issues, including big data and privacy. Recent posts include "Eyes on the street or creepy surveillance?" and "Whistleblowing is the New Civil Disobedience: Why Edward Snowden Matters."
- Blog@CACM - Sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery, this blog posts articles and musings from a variety of authors. Recent articles include "Big Data Analyzed by Big Compute, Big Compute Creates Big Data," and "Building the HPC Community, Shaping Early Careers."
- CERIAS Blog - Supported by Purdue University's Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security, this blog is a must read for information security professionals. Posts are typically analytical and thorough. Recent articles include "Opticks and a Treatise on the PRISM Surveillance Program," and "Schrodinger's Catnip: A Review of the NSA Phone Surveillance Program."
- The Eponymous Pickle - On this blog, Franz Dill posts on a variety of emerging technologies. Representative articles include "MIT Comp Sci Prof Explains Quantum Computing," and "Visualizing Unstructured Data."
- The Ethical Hacker Network - Although self-described as a magazine, this outlet feels more like a blog. The brain child of Donald C. Conzal, readers find features, forums, and columns that appeal to information security pros. Representative posts include "Video: An Insider's Look at the Smartphone Pentest Framework," and "Mobile Hacking 101."
- My Biased Coin - Since 2007, Michael Mitzenmacher has posted his musings on "computer science, algorithms, networking [and] information theory" on this blog. Geared more toward academics in the field, representative posts include "NSF Coming Back Online," and "The PhD - Tenure - Jobs Argument."
- Shark Tank - The blog of online magazine ComputerWorld, Shark Tank aspires to provide "true tales of IT life, fresh every weekday." Information systems specialists will find plenty of fish food to satisfy their need for news with posts like "Safety first," and "Now That's Secure!"
- Wild Webmink - Independent consultant, Simon Phipps, offers insight and expertise from this site. A keen open source advocate, his writing can be found in other media outlets including InfoWorld. Posts of interest to systems professionals include "Too Much Power?" and "Don't Stop with the Trolls."
Who to Follow on Twitter
Since just about every information systems guru uses Twitter, the list of must-follow IS accounts could be very long. We've done our best to curate the best list for the budding IS hobbyist as well as the expert.
- @Arubin - Although he rarely tweets, given that Andy Rubin works on secret projects for Google, he's a must-follow for every information systems specialists. Most of his tweets relate to Android usage and market.
- @asymco - Asymco's founder, Horace Dediu, tweets insight and analysis about the mobile landscape. Recent tweets include "Top Samsung Analyst Predicts Wipeout Will Deepen," and "The economies of Europe prior to the Industrial Revolution."
- @fxshaw - Head of PR for Microsoft Frank Shaw tweets information with a sharp humor. Recent tweets include "A day in the life. With technology:)," and "Windows Phone Turned the Corner in 2013."
- @jack - Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey occasionally tweets, and like everyone else on Twitter, IT professionals should follow him. Recent tweets include links to his new venture, such as "Square is building tools for economic empowerment."
- @Pogue - Tech columnist for the New York Times, David Pogue keeps followers updated on the latest trends in the industry. Recent posts include "Google to buy Nest for $3.2 billion," and "Probably the first and last time Google+Apple+Yahoo+Microsoft+Facebook+Twitter work together on ANYTHING."
- @SammyWalrusIV - With insights and expertise, Sammy's tweets help keep IT professionals informed on the latest developments at the most innovative tech companies in the world. Recent posts include "If it had been Apple buying Nest, the stock would be down 1.6% if not more;)," and "WSJ: Foxconn shipped 1.4 million iPhone 5s units to China Mobile last week."
- @SteveCase - AOL co-founder Steve Case tweets insight with news about the latest in technology. Recent tweets include "As Silicon Valley's valuations skyrocket, VC investors now seeking to invest elsewhere."
- @tapbot_paul - A genius with app development, information systems specialists can learn a lot by following Paul Haddad. Recently he tweeted "Google just purchased Tesla! Not really but I bet geeks just freaked out."