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What is Business Informatics?

By Adam Hill
Updated May 16, 2024
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Business informatics is an emerging discipline that combines various aspects of business management, information technology, and informatics. The goal of is to fully integrate computer science and business administration into one field. This particular discipline began in Germany, and its popularity has spread throughout central Europe with many institutions of higher learning offer four-year degrees in the field. It is a discipline that changes and develops rapidly, and its teaching must therefore be constantly revised and reconsidered.

A field like business informatics is interdisciplinary in nature, meaning that it combines several areas of study and expertise into one. To fully understand what it is, it is helpful to understand its components. The first of these, informatics, is broadly defined as the science of processing information. Increasingly, it involves processing and analyzing information digitally, with the aid of computers. Informatics is often used synonymously with the term "computer science," although the latter has a somewhat more specific meaning. Medicine and biology, as well as the social sciences, can use informatics to advance their work.

Information technology, also called IT for short, is the second component of business informatics, and this varies slightly from informatics. IT usually refers to the setup, configuration, and maintenance of computer systems, including hardware and software applications. Students of business informatics are taught not only to understand and explain IT-related problems, but also to propose and work through solutions, possibly by applying new strategies and technologies. Business management or administration constitutes the third component of the field, and those who study this discipline learn and develop attributes such as leadership and strategic thinking, which are important abilities for anyone in management to have.

Someone who is properly trained in business informatics can act as a go-between or a bridge to connect management with the information side of a company. By understanding both sides, qualified experts will ideally be able to help both those who build and those who use computers and information systems. It is speculated by many that companies structured around this discipline will increasingly become the norm. This is particularly the case with businesses in the life sciences industries, which need large amounts of data storage, and need it to work flawlessly. As business becomes more driven by quality of information, most companies will likely see the need to apply business informatics to some degree, in order to remain competitive.

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Discussion Comments

By anon190169 — On Jun 25, 2011

just now i finished my masters in business informatics, and i want to enter into the computer hardware manufacturing industry.

By hamje32 — On Jun 18, 2011

@nony - You might want to look up Business Informatics jobs on the web to understand the nuances of this discipline. It is fairly new, and the fact that it combines three disciplines doesn’t make it easier to differentiate from other specialties in business or computer science.

From what I’ve seen, I’d compare it more to Information Systems myself, more a high level overview of using computer technology in business domains, rather than a business-centric field of study. That’s my take anyway.

By nony — On Jun 15, 2011

@MrMoody - I agree. Business informatics is heavily focused on the business disciplines while integrating Information Technology as well. Business intelligence comes at it from the other way around, simply trying to make information processing more user-friendly and accessible to non-IT professionals.

When I went to college I briefly flirted with the idea of majoring in business administration. In addition to the usual MBA programs I found the Business Informatics Center, which provided courses in business study that linked Information Technology, Management and Business.

They were lumped together under the School of Business. I think that should make it clear that it’s a more business-centric discipline with Information Technology brought in as part of a problem-solving set of tools, rather than making Information Technology the main component in the study.

By MrMoody — On Jun 14, 2011

@Charred - I actually think there is a difference between business informatics and business intelligence. Business intelligence is not truly interdisciplinary in nature in my opinion. It makes reporting tools more accessible to non-IT personnel like sales managers and business executives, so that they can not only report revenue but predict possible outcomes if they make changes to their business strategy.

It does involve business research as business informatics does; however business informatics includes business management whereas this is not a necessary part of business intelligence. Business intelligence does a lot of data mining and slicing and dicing of the data, but it leaves the business administration up to the managers.

I would say that business intelligence would be a subset of business informatics, not the same thing.

By Charred — On Jun 12, 2011

I wonder if business information systems don’t already fit into the larger IT umbrella under other categories, like business intelligence for example. It appears that there may be some overlap. With business intelligence, analysts must understand the IT side of the business but also the business questions that their analysis is meant to answer.

I used business intelligence software where I worked once and like business informatics, it was basically a bridge between the technical side of the business and the analytic side where you just process real world information that flows through your business, and which may be useful to sales professionals, as one example.

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