Today when we think of system integration we think of information sharing between different software products such as auto repair shop management software integrating with labor guides or parts suppliers. In the evolution of software systems the first concept of integration came into being before computers regularly communicated with each other for business purposes and long before the introduction of the Internet. When computer software systems were developed prior to this stage in system evolution they were built to support a single process. There were no automated connections between the various aspects of a business. In the auto repair shop environment this meant there were separate systems for order processing, payroll, accounting and inventory etc. Often the software would run on the same computer system but there was no relationship between the different packages.
As in other points in the evolution of computerized systems – managers began to realize that there was waste inherent in utilizing several standalone systems to run their businesses. Thus market demand provided the incentive for integrated systems to be developed. This meant that there would be one system that would support all aspects of a business and information redundancy would be eliminated. The repair order system and the inventory system would share the same part information. The repair order system and the time keeping system would share the same employees. And information from the operational aspects of the business would be posted automatically to the accounting system, etc.
Beyond eliminating data redundancy, these new fully integrated systems also supported cross-company transactional processing. This allowed the flow of business from start to finish to be supported by one system. These types of systems allowed a major step forward in streamlining processes and reducing information processing costs within a business.
These integrated systems also allowed for more robust data inquiry and reporting capabilities. Because information from various aspects of the business were linked together much more powerful management decision support became possible.
The fully integrated management information system took computerized software systems to a new level. Data redundancy was significantly reduced or eliminated, information updates became available in real time and powerful management reporting capabilities were made possible.