This study applies the theory of practice to view the information systems (IS) field in terms of its essential activity—what it does as an intellectual enterprise. Drawing from Foucault, Bourdieu, Pickering and other practice theorists, it defines the IS field as continuously informatizing and systematizing its objects of study. Each of these two activities is elaborated into three dimensions: informatizing is characterized as automating, informating, and complexing; systematizing is characterized as analysing/ synthesizing, sensemaking and enacting. These dimensions are mapped into themes that can be characteristically said to be IS research, and based on each of their essential activities, provide a theoretically coherent image of research in IS that connects the dots despite the field’s apparent theoretical diversity and incongruity. Focusing on what the IS field does builds a distinctive identity for the field, opens up possibilities for theorizing the IT artefact and enables IS researchers to theorize not only traditional IS topics, but especially novel, unpredictable, and emergent socio-technical phenomena. By bringing back the IS field to its core concepts—information and system—the performative act of doing IS in both its discursive and non-discursive practices hold the potential for enhancing the intellectual and social relevance of the IS field.