What Is Information Technology? A Beginner’s Guide to the World of IT (2022)

What Is Information Technology? A Beginner’s Guide to the World of IT (1)

For many people, information technology (IT) is basically synonymous with the guys and gals you call when you need help with a computer issue. While that view of information technology isn’t totally wrong, it drastically understates the scope of this critical career field.

If you’re looking to get a better handle on what information technology is and the many facets of this field, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve done the digging for you and spoke with IT industry pros to create this helpful beginner’s guide to the field.

What is information technology and what does it encompass?

The most basic information technology definition is that it's the application of technology to solve business or organizational problems on a broad scale. No matter the role, a member of an IT department works with others to solve technology problems, both big and small.

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There are three primary pillars of responsibility for an IT department:

  1. IT governance: This refers to the combination of policies and processes that ensure IT systems are effectively run and in alignment with the organization’s needs.
  2. IT operations: This is a catchall category for the daily work of an IT department. This includes providing tech support, network maintenance, security testing and device management duties.
  3. Hardware and infrastructure: This focus area refers to all the physical components of IT infrastructure. This pillar of IT includes the setup and maintenance of equipment like routers, servers, phone systems and individual devices like laptops.

Even though an organization’s IT department handles many different functions and plays a critical role in keeping things running, Andrey Prokopchuk, head of IT at Belitsoft, says the perfect IT department is the one you aren’t even aware of. This means that they are able to automate and create processes for many of their daily tasks, so that the business continues to run smoothly. The ideal IT department is also aligned with the business’s goals and transparent in its processes in a way that the rest of the business can understand and provide input on.

Why is information technology important?

Simply put, the work of most organizations would slow to a crawl without functioning IT systems. You’d be hard-pressed to find a business that doesn’t at least partially rely on computers and the networks that connect them. Maintaining a standard level of service, security and connectivity is a huge task, but it’s not the only priority or potential challenge on their plates.

More and more companies want to implement more intuitive and sophisticated solutions. “IT can provide the edge a company needs to outsmart, outpace and out-deliver competitors,” says Edward Kiledjian, a Chief Information Security Officer and technology blogger. Let’s take a look at the needs that current and future IT specialists will be working on:

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  • Data overload: Businesses need to process huge amounts of data. This requires large amounts of processing power, sophisticated software and human analytical skills.
  • Mobile and wireless usages: More employers are offering remote work options that require smartphones, tablets and laptops with wireless hotspots and roaming ability.
  • Cloud services: Most businesses no longer operate their own “server farms” to store massive amounts of data. Many businesses now work with cloud services—third-party hosting platforms that maintain that data.
  • Bandwidth for video hosting: Videoconferencing solutions have become more and more popular, so more network bandwidth is needed to support them sufficiently.

Based on the volume of these needs, you probably won’t be too surprised to learn that employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.*

Hardware vs. software

You know that working with hardware and software is a large part of an IT department’s work, but what counts as hardware? And what’s software? Let’s break down this important distinction.

Hardware includes all the physical parts of a computer system. This includes hardware installed inside the computer like the motherboard, central processing unit and hard drive. Hardware also describes components that can be connected to the outside of a computer like a keyboard, mouse and printer. Keep in mind though that some tablets and smaller laptops integrate items like a keyboard and a mouse within the device. Basically, hardware is any part, component or device related to computers and their networks that you can physically touch and manipulate.

Unlike hardware, software is not something you can physically change. Software encompasses all the data, application and programs stored electronically, like an operating system or a video-editing tool.

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So how does this distinction apply to an IT career? Nearly every IT job requires a blend of hardware and software-based know-how. Some IT workers may spend more time working with configuring hardware components, but those components are also governed by software. Additionally, IT professionals are responsible for deploying and setting up software applications for users.

IT career opportunities

Now that you know the general responsibilities of an IT department, you may be wondering what the individual roles within are. Here are some of the positions that you’ll find in many IT departments:

  • Computer support specialists work on the front lines troubleshooting any technology issues including software issues, computer crashes and hardware trouble. These specialists may also assist senior-level IT members with larger-scale network issues.
  • Network systems administrators focus on the big picture of the network system, security and performance.
  • Computer systems analysts work behind the scenes to marry IT with smart business solutions. They usually specialize in a particular industry while working for a technology firm or work directly in an industry, like finance or government.
  • Information security analysts are responsible for the security of an organization’s computer networks, conducting tests and developing company-wide best security practices.

Keep in mind that some of these roles will change depending on the size and scope of the company. In smaller companies, most of your daily work may revolve around relatively mundane things like troubleshooting printers, but on the other hand, you may be required to be more of a jack-of-all-trades with broader knowledge. With large firms, IT employees have a more diverse array of potential focus areas—some may work upward into management and strategic planning roles, while others may pursue specialized areas like cybersecurity.

What characteristics are employers looking for in IT candidates?

Candidates who are best suited for IT work are those who have strong communication skills. From helping executives develop sophisticated technological solutions to troubleshooting a network issue, those in information technology need to have a level of empathy that allows them to see exactly what a client or co-worker is dealing with and calmly help them achieve their goal or solve a problem.

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This may mean breaking down a large problem or an end goal into multiple steps so that the stakeholder can see exactly what it will take to accomplish it. Taking time to define and explain what’s needed can help an IT department better manage stakeholders’ expectations and maximize the department’s hours in the best way possible, according to Keri Peterson, IT business analyst and project manager at University of Northwestern-St. Paul. Many businesses want to use technology as a means to an end, and a competent IT department can help them get there.

A positive attitude and passion for technology can help an IT employee succeed and advance. Jack Bedell-Pearce, managing director of 4D Data Centres, says that the combination of these traits will foster greater responsibilities. Plus, this passion for technology will make staying up to date on the latest technology and advancements—another must for the IT professional—much easier and enjoyable.

Are you a fit for an IT career?

Now that you’ve got a better handle on the basics of what information technology is and the important nature of the field, you might be wondering whether a tech career is the right fit for you. Our article, “8 Signs You’re Wired to Major in Technology,” lays out some of the telltale indicators you’d do well in a Technology-related degree program.

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [information accessed November 5, 2018] https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and include workers at all levels of education and experience. Employment conditions in your area may vary.

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FAQs

What is information technology beginner? ›

Information technology refers to the development, management, and practical application of computer networks, systems, and software. IT plays such an important role in business operations today and significantly affects how we exchange information and communicate in our daily lives.

What is information technology in your own words? ›

Information technology (IT) is the use of any computers, storage, networking and other physical devices, infrastructure and processes to create, process, store, secure and exchange all forms of electronic data.

What is information technology for students? ›

The field of information technology, or IT, covers the support, administration, and design of telecommunications and computer systems. Some positions in this field include system analysts, software programmers, computer scientists, computer support specialists, and network and database administrators.

What is technology in your own opinion? ›

Technology is the use of scientific knowledge for practical purposes or applications, whether in industry or in our everyday lives. So, basically, whenever we use our scientific knowledge to achieve some specific purpose, we're using technology.

What is the importance of information technology? ›

Information technology helps to build and grow the commerce and business sector and generate the maximum possible output. The time taken by different sectors to generate business is now minimized with advancements in Information technology. It provides electronic security, storage, and efficient communication.

Why is IT called information technology? ›

The term IT (Information Technology) in its simplest form covers every task that computers are used for. The usage of technology to crunch information and resolve business challenges or to streamline and organize processes through technology in an organization is commonly known as IT.

What is information technology paragraph? ›

Information technology (IT) is the use of computers to create, process, store, retrieve, and exchange all kinds of data and information. IT is typically used within the context of business operations as opposed to personal or entertainment technologies. IT forms part of information and communications technology (ICT).

Why is information technology important in education? ›

Using information technology in education has made it possible for students to keep on learning, irrespective of where they are. Teachers and professors can send assignments to students and they can complete and submit them even without physically stepping into the classrooms and so learning never has to stop.

How does information technology affect our everyday life? ›

Technology affects almost every aspect of 21st century life, from transport efficiency and safety to access to food and healthcare, socialization and productivity. The power of the internet has enabled global communities to form, and ideas and resources to be shared more easily.

What are the benefits of information technology in education? ›

Advantages of technology in education
  • Provides a better interactive experience during the learning and teaching process. ...
  • Provides access to an unlimited amount of current information and data from a variety of sources. ...
  • Teaches them digital literacy. ...
  • Reduces educational costs.
8 Jul 2021

How has technology improved our lives? ›

Modern technology has paved the way for multi-functional devices like the smartwatch and the smartphone. Computers are increasingly faster, more portable, and higher-powered than ever before. With all of these revolutions, technology has also made our lives easier, faster, better, and more fun.

How technology influence my life as a learner? ›

Technology has a big impact on me, as a learner it helps me to do everything even without the guide or help of the adults, I can learn it on my own. It makes my work easier like school works and everything and also it helps me to learn, discover, explore everything that new to me.

How technology has changed our lives for the better? ›

Technology has made it easier to farm, more feasible to build cities, and more convenient to travel, among many other things, effectively linking together all countries on earth, helping to create globalization, and making it easier for economies to grow and for companies to do business.

What is the role of information technology in our society? ›

Information and communication technologies (ICT) play a significant role in all aspects of modern society. ICT have changed the way in which we communicate with each other, how we find needed information, work, conduct business, interact with government agencies, and how we manage our social lives.

Why information is important to the society today? ›

People have access to an unlimited amount of information, knowledge of which allows them to build communication with the entire international community. Knowledge of certain information makes it possible to control the society, to influence the public consciousness.

What is information technology and its uses? ›

Information technology is building communications networks for a company, safeguarding data and information, creating and administering databases, helping employees troubleshoot problems with their computers or mobile devices, or doing a range of other work to ensure the efficiency and security of business information ...

What is the base of information technology? ›

There are four primary elements for information technology as a whole: information security, database and network management, computer technical support, and business software development.

What is an example of information technology? ›

Examples of IT

Telephone and radio equipment. Video conferencing equipment. Personal computers. Performance management software for managing goal setting and performance review.

When did information technology start? ›

The term was first published in the 1958 Harvard Business Review when authors Harold J. Leavitt and Thomas C. Whisler said “the new technology does not yet have a single established name. We shall call it Information Technology.”

What is information technology in PDF? ›

The term «Information Technology» is «any activity that involves information. processing and integrated communication through electronic equipment.» This term is more comprehensive and refers to all types of technology that operate. with information, whether in an information system, in the automation of an industrial.

What is the best definition of technology? ›

What is technology? Technology is the application of scientific knowledge to the practical aims of human life or, as it is sometimes phrased, to the change and manipulation of the human environment.

How many types of information technology are there? ›

77 Types of Information Technology.

How will technology help students in the future? ›

Collaboration – Both teachers and students can work with others around the world. Differentiated instruction – Not every student can learn from lectures or reading. Some concepts are difficult to grasp without interaction. Technology allows students to learn in a variety of ways and find what best suits their needs.

What are the positive and negative impact of information technology? ›

Positive effects of Technology. Less expense, better efficiency, communication channels, increase in networks, etc. Negative effects of Technology. Social isolation, job loss, adverse health effects, scams, etc.

What is the role of information technology in education and business? ›

Information technology or the IT department is a crucial part of any company of business as they monitor and manage almost everything that is to do with information technology and communication systems.

Which IT course is best for beginners? ›

What Are the Best IT Courses Online for Beginners?
  • IT Infrastructure and Networking. ...
  • Linux System Administration. ...
  • AWS for Job Training. ...
  • AWS SysOps Certification Prep. ...
  • Python Automation. ...
  • IT Infrastructure and Networking. ...
  • Linux for Jobs. ...
  • Red Hat Certified System Administrator Prep.

What are 3 examples of information technology? ›

Information Technology examples
  • Telephone and radio equipment.
  • Performance management software for managing goal setting and performance review.
  • Software for word processing and spreadsheets.
  • Video conferencing equipment.
  • Personal computers.
  • Content management software for blogging and collaboration.
11 Jun 2019

What is a job in information technology? ›

Information technology (IT) professionals are responsible for helping organizations maintain their digital infrastructure and providing troubleshooting assistance to technology consumers. IT employees are in demand to help others keep up with technological advances and security procedures.

Is information technology a hard major? ›

Yes, Information Technology is somewhat hard depending on the field you choose to study and your aptitude for the field. If you are comfortable with mathematics and statistics and are willing to put in the time and effort required to study and learn the curriculum, it is more than manageable. IT is a broad field.

Which IT course is best for future? ›

The best IT certifications that can help you kickstart a career, or move up in your AI and Machine Learning career are: Artificial Intelligence Engineer Master's Program. Post Graduate Program in Data Science. Machine Learning Certification Course.

How can I learn technology on my own? ›

  1. Allocate Adequate Time for Research & Exploration. ...
  2. Identify All Prerequisites for the Particular Technology. ...
  3. Find the Right Resources for Learning Process. ...
  4. Don't Hesitate to Ask Help. ...
  5. Do Practice the Things You've Learned. ...
  6. Put your Knowledge to the Test. ...
  7. Share Your Learning With Others.
29 Dec 2020

Which computer course is best for IT job? ›

Best Computer Courses for Government Job
Course NameProvider
Data Entry Operator courseITI, Coursera, Udemy, edX
Advance Diploma in Computer ApplicationBCC, Excel class, IISDT
O' Level Computer CourseNIELIT
Bachelor in Computer ApplicationChrist University, Loyola College, Amity Institute of Information Technology
1 more row
13 Sept 2022

What is information technology in daily life? ›

Information technology is used in every sphere of life like education, communication, business, commerce, treatment and banking etc. Businesses are investing heavily into new technological trends as well as offering businesses the chance to operate more effectively through the application of information technology.

Why is IT called information technology? ›

The term IT (Information Technology) in its simplest form covers every task that computers are used for. The usage of technology to crunch information and resolve business challenges or to streamline and organize processes through technology in an organization is commonly known as IT.

Which field is best in information technology? ›

  • Data Scientist.
  • Software Developer.
  • Information Security Analyst.
  • Computer Systems Analyst.
  • Web Developer.
  • Sales Engineer.
  • Information Technology Manager.
  • Computer Research Scientist.

WHAT IT jobs are in demand? ›

Now that the dust has settled, let's take a look at the 10 most in-demand tech jobs in 2022.
  1. Information Security Engineer. ...
  2. Full-Stack Engineer. ...
  3. Data Scientist. ...
  4. Machine Learning Engineer. ...
  5. Java Developer. ...
  6. Data Engineer. ...
  7. Cloud Engineer. ...
  8. Backend Engineer.
21 Jun 2022

Is information technology a good course? ›

There are lots of employment opportunities for a BSIT graduate. You can be an Application Developer, Data Analyst, System Analyst, Network Administrator, Database Administrator, System Engineer, Test Engineer, Software Engineer, etc.

Do you need math for information technology? ›

Computer science is a broad field, so if you're looking to get your computer science degree, the kind of math you'll need to know will depend on your specific program and career path. But generally speaking, most degree programs require a basic understanding of calculus, algebra, discrete mathematics, and statistics.

How do I become an IT? ›

Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming an Information Technology (IT) Specialist
  1. Step 1: Graduate from High School (Four Years) ...
  2. Step 2: Complete an Undergraduate Degree (Four Years) ...
  3. Step 3: Obtain Entry-Level Work (Timelines Vary) ...
  4. Step 4: Pursue Vendor-Specific Certifications (Timelines Vary)

Which is better information technology or computer science? ›

Which is better Computer Science or IT? There is no such thing as “better” because they lead to different careers and have different specialisations or subfields. Either discipline is a great choice for your studies, as long as you're passionate about technology, and you understand what each study option implies.

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