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    Outsiders: an exploratory history of IS in corporations

    Gannon, Brian (2013) Outsiders: an exploratory history of IS in corporations. Journal of Information Technology 28 (1), pp. 50-62. ISSN 0268-3962.

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    Abstract

    This paper is an exploratory study that provides a brief history of information systems (IS) in corporations that are not part of the Information Technology sector, such as retailers, banks, government agencies and so on. It looks at the development of the IS function and the changing roles of IS practitioners in such organisations over the past 60 years, and assesses how they perceived themselves and were perceived by their peers, by business colleagues and by others. It uses the testimony of successful IS practitioners to provide a grounded perspective on the history of the IS worker over this time. The research identifies a trajectory of a gradual diminishment in the role and status of the IS worker in the corporation over the lifetime of the discipline. It observes that the IS worker has experienced changed fortunes: from a position of influence at the outset, leading to a peak of status and reward in the years up to the millennium; and to the present day where the occupation has a much lower profile. It ascribes this to the increasing commoditisation of IS, manifested by phenomena such as end-user computing, outsourcing and cloud computing. The paper is of relevance to academics who are interested in IS in the corporate organisation; to business professionals, who are sometimes bewildered by their IS colleagues; and to those who work in IS. The research is presented as an interpretative study and is intended to help future researchers frame questions and design research projects. It also aims to inform and witness, and provide a perspective on a currently neglected part of the business world.

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