What is Information Technology (IT)?


From checking emails on our phones to analyzing numbers on our laptops to hosting a conference call on cloud-based software, it’s hard to overstate the importance of cloud-based technologies. workplace information. But what exactly are we talking about when we talk about IT

Definition of information technology

The term “information technology” dates back to a 1958 article published in the Harvard Business Review. Authors Harold J. Leavitt and Thomas L. Whisler defined several types of information technology:

  • Rapid information processing techniques
  • The use of statistical and mathematical models for decision making
  • The “simulation of higher order thinking through computer programs”.

“Although many aspects of this technology are uncertain, it seems clear that it will enter the managerial scene quickly, with a definite and far-reaching impact on the managerial organization,” they wrote.

Six decades later, it’s clear that Leavitt and Whisler were on to something big. Today, information technology refers to everything that businesses use computers for. Information technology builds communication networks for a business, protects data and information, creates and administers databases, helps employees solve problems with their computers or mobile devices, or performs a series of tasks. ” other work to ensure the efficiency and security of the company’s information systems.

Examples of information technology

When it comes to IT career paths, examples range from tiny consulting firms to huge multinational corporations, and from highly technical specialties to managerial scales that require strong people skills. Here are some examples of routes you could choose:

  • IT Support Specialist – These positions require a bachelor’s degree and are well suited if you enjoy answering questions about computer software and hardware, setting up equipment, and training computer users. People in this role are expected to be proficient in many types of software, including database interface programs, environment tool development, and operating system software. The median annual salary for this job is $ 53,000, and positions in this field are growing faster than average, according to the BLS.
  • Network and IT systems administrator – This job often requires a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, although some employers only require an associate’s degree or a post-secondary certificate. Regardless, these jobs are often available to professionals with no previous work experience in the field, and BLS reports that they paid a median salary of $ 82,000 in 2018. Daily duties at this job might include maintaining computer network hardware and software, backing up data and troubleshooting network problems. To do this job, you need to know how to use database management software, as well as network monitoring and web platform development tools.
  • Computer Network Architect – This is a step in the career of a network administrator and usually requires a bachelor’s degree and previous experience in the IT field. People in this role design and build networks, such as intranets, local area networks (LANs), and wide area networks (WANs). The median salary for this type of work was $ 109,000 in 2018, according to the BLS. Network architects often need to understand a variety of software systems, including administrative tools, development environment software, and operating system programs. There is often an element of human touch to this job as well, as network architects may need to work with clients and sales and marketing staff to meet client needs and ensure accounts are running smoothly. configured.
  • Database administrator – This growing field involves the protection and security of data such as financial information and customer shipping records. Jobs are often in specialized companies that provide services to other companies, or in data-rich industries like insurance. The median salary for this job was $ 90,000 in 2018, according to the BLS. Most employers expect applicants for positions to have a bachelor’s degree in a discipline related to information or computer science. It is also helpful to understand database management software, as well as operating system tools, development environment and web platform software, and enterprise resource planning tools. .
  • Computer Systems Analyst – This job, also known as a systems architect, requires an understanding of both computer and business systems. As with many IT careers, the typical education for the job is a bachelor’s degree in a computer or information science field, but some people come to this job after studying business or even the liberal arts. Strong computer skills, often including programming tools, database management software, and development environment software, are required. At the same time, the people doing this work must be able to apply computer systems to solve business management issues such as workflow, inventory control, and production processes. As more companies turn to cloud computing, work in this area will expand. The median salary for the job was $ 88,000 in 2018, according to the BLS.
  • Information Security Analyst – It’s one of the fastest growing jobs in IT, with an expected 32% increase by 2028, according to the BLS. Professionals in these roles protect corporate networks and systems against cyber attacks. These jobs generally require a bachelor’s degree with a major in computer science, as well as some experience in the computer field. Professionals in this field should use development environment tools, as well as specific network monitoring and operation software and security tools. The median salary in this job was $ 98,000 in 2018, according to the BLS.

It is clear from this list that IT positions represent well-paying and fast-growing career paths. It is also clear that the first step towards many of them is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. In the context of higher education, computer science is largely focused on programming and software development, while information technology is the study of computer systems and networks as it relates to the functioning of a business. Either can be the basis of a great career in the field. Some students may also choose to specialize in particular IT-related fields like cybersecurity or to continue their education with a master’s degree in a related field.

Whatever your specific path, the world of computer science opportunity that Leavitt and Whisler saw emerge in 1958 continues to grow today, with no end in sight.

Dale Stokdyk is a marketer with a passion for STEM higher education. Follow him on twitter @dalestokdyk or log in on LinkedIn.


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