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Explaining the concept of actionability of information in an IS.
It is usually a requirement for an information system to be actionable. This is an almost disappearing topic, but it has some historical inheritance why it was a big deal at the time to have actionable system. What is a non-actionable information system? It means that it doesn’t do anything. It just displays things. And all those who grew up on smartphones and tablets, they don’t know that this kind of information system would have existed. There is actually one thing that you might know which is a non-actionable information system. That’s the Adobe Reader or any sort of PDF reader. What it does, it just displays what is there. So it doesn’t do anything. So the actionability is around that it does something.
However, a few years back, maybe about 15 years back, most of the web pages were not actionable. Today, if you see a web page where you cannot do anything, if you start clicking around, nothing happens. You might find some links that’s not actionable. They’re just a link. But it doesn’t actually do something. So, for example, if you think about purchasing a ticket for a game, or a flight, or something, and you want to choose your currency. How this is done? So the non-actionable way would be that they have a database in which they store the price in all sorts of currencies. And when you change your currency, it will just display that one. So it’s a kind of passive behaviour.
However, it can also store the price only in one single currency, and have a link to another web source which contains the exchange rates, look up the exchange rate to that particular currency that you are choosing, and calculate back what you need. So that would be the prototype of actionability. Or, for example, if you are watching these on the BBC page, you have the iPlayer. Now, the iPlayer would be a prototype of actionability. However, most of our apps, or most of the information systems that we use, are actionable. Now, the tricky part in terms of the ERP, or big organisational information systems, becomes whether they can carry out certain transactions.
And, of course, the actionability in itself is easy, because you can always define a transaction, and this transaction works this way with this sort of inputs, it provides these sort of outputs. The tricky thing is how it links with all the other things that I’m talking about in this week. So whether it is at your access level, so should you be allowed to run that transaction? Then, whether the relevant information is available for the need of that particular transaction and so on. So the actionability is a very simple thing, as long as you want to leave it alone.
However, in the relation with all these other topics, it becomes one of the central topics of information systems today particularly in modern business and organisations. Thank you.
‘Actionability’ simply means that the IS/ICT does something. In itself this sounds like a trivial expectation. However, making it happen may be less trivial. What is certain is that this is the most fundamental of all characteristics: does it do the job that it is supposed to do. If an IS is not (trans)actionable, it does not matter how well it does on all the other characteristics.
If you think about the requirements of a transaction e.g. completing a purchase order, a transaction usually cuts through at least several organisational functions, it needs to pull together data from various departments, you may need approvals from various people, you need to check whether what you are buying will have place in your warehouse, whether it is available from the seller and so forth. This also means that many various transactions may need to link together. Making an alarm clock actionable is trivial. A pocket calculator is still relatively simple. But an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system will have millions of interlinked transactions. That is complex.
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