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Informatics as a Multidisciplinary Approach
The multidisciplinary approach to informatics, in my view, relates to the fact that the domain of informatics as we know it today combines or involves a multiplicity of academic disciplines and professional specializations in its approach to issues, problems, and challenges. For example, it is possible to say that informatics is a multidisciplinary approach as it combines several usually distinct branches of learning or domains of expertise, such as nursing informatics, medical informatics, public health informatics, business informatics, IS informatics, and engineering informatics. It is disciplinary in that practitioners use the lens of their professions to understand informatics (Alexander, Finch, & Sutton, 2013; Fitzgerald, 2012).
Many organizations in the banking and financial sector have developed and implemented highly complex information security and assurance systems to help them ensure the privacy and security of their customers in the dynamic and interconnected operating environments. Since these systems assure information and manage risks associated with the use, processing, storage and transmission of data in a highly interconnected environment, it is possible to observe a multidisciplinary approach in their operations since they require expertise from multiple fields, such as business, accounting, user experience, criminal and forensic science, fraud examination, information systems engineering, as well as management science (Njiru, 2013).
Definitions of Informatics
The multidisciplinary approach to informatics, in my view, has led to the many different definitions of informatics as professionals use the lens of individual disciplines or fields of expertise to make sense of the processes, practices, strategies, and applications that relate to information technology. The broad scope of informatics and its diverse aspects have also contributed to the variance in the definitions of informatics. This means that a nurse researcher, for example, may define informatics differently from a business researcher due to the scope of study and variations in fundamental concepts of communication, knowledge, data, interaction, and information between the two researchers.
The many different definitions of informatics suggest that one has to maintain an open and flexible approach in dealing with the concept to not only avoid the risk of limiting the aspect of interoperability and communication among organizations and other entities (Lazikidou & Siassiakos, 2009) but also to spur innovativeness and creativity in solving contemporary problems and challenges (Fitzgerald, 2012).
For example, an IS student is likely to develop an innovative informatics mindset if he or she can understand the concept as multidisciplinary in approach, scope, and definition. Here, it is important to underscore the value of innovation and creativity in developing novel approaches geared toward enhancing information security and solving contemporary challenges within the socioeconomic and technological landscape.
An informatics mindset helps in the effective management of organizational processes, practices, and activities. For a security manager, an informatics mindset not only provides the much needed interdisciplinary approach to the management of information security, but also puts into consideration the many contemporary technical, social, and practical challenges related to data protection (Alexander, Finch, & Sutton, 2013).
The mindset also allows the security manager to perceive issues of information security from an interdependent perspective spanning across several areas and processes. For example, an informatics mindset will assist a security manager in the banking sector to connect technological issues of data fraud to the social and practical aspects implemented by a particular bank toward protecting data, customer privacy, and other organizational assets. This means that the security manager is likely to develop multifaceted approaches that are essentially different from traditional kinds of management tasks or activities to ensure effectiveness in addressing serious security challenges posed by the ever-growing multiplication of diffuse data and information technology systems (Alexander et al., 2013; Fitzgerald, 2012).
For example, the security manager may adopt a holistic approach to security management protocols that take into account contemporary concepts and security analytic interventions that more accurately reflect the realities on the ground and enable accurate prediction of security trends at organizational, national and international levels.
Informatics as a Theory
The proposition that informatics is a theory about knowledge and meaning suggests that information security managers and other mid-level and senior managers and leaders need to know contemporary security issues, business and industry trends, socioeconomic and technological environments, as well as resource availability. Having adequate knowledge of these broad areas will help managers and leaders to construct meaning and implement effective processes, strategies, and activities. Blackler’s five knowledge types for informatics include
- embraced or conceptual knowledge,
- embodied knowledge that assists in action-oriented practical thinking,
- encultured knowledge that denotes socially achieved shared understandings,
- embedded knowledge that is ingrained in organizational routines, systems and processes,
- encoded knowledge that is conveyed by signs and symbols (Gammock, Hobbs, & Pigott, 2011).
Drawing from the above description, a typical organization may be faced with problems such as knowing that is not socially shared by relevant stakeholders, implementing technological innovations that do not enhance the reinforcement of knowledge into organizational routines and processes and lacking actionable knowledge that could be used to solve contemporary issues. Lastly, managers need to know that informatics can solve such challenges by its capacity to focus on people, information and technology in making informed decisions that are likely to drive the organizational agenda forward.
Alexander, D., Finch, A., & Sutton, D. (2013). Information security management principles (2nd ed.). Swindon, UK: BCS Learning & Development Ltd. Web.
Fitzgerald, T. (2012). Information security governance simplified: From the boardroom to the keyboard. Baca Raton, FL: CRS Press. Web.
Gammock, J., Hobbs, V., & Pigott, D. (2011). The book of informatics. South Melbourne, Victoria: Cengage Learning Australia Pty Limited. Web.
Lazikidou, A.A., & Siassiakos, K.M. (2009). Handbook of research on distributed medical informatics and e-health. New York: Medical Information Sciences Reference. Web.
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Njiru, S.W. (2013). A framework to guide information security initiatives for banking information systems: Kenyan banking sector case study. Web.