What is information technology or IT? Definition and examples

Information Technology or IT refers to the development, maintenance, and use of computer software, systems, and networks. It includes their use for the processing and distribution of data. Data means information, facts, statistics, etc., gathered together for reference, storage, or analysis.

As the digital landscape evolves, IT continues to play a pivotal role in transforming data into actionable insights that drive business and societal progress.

The word technology on its own refers to the application of scientific know how for practical purposes.

According to Information Technology Trends in 2019:

“Information technology refers to anything related to computing technology. The Internet, for example, comes under the umbrella term IT. So does computer hardware, software, and networking.”

Software includes all the computer programs – codes and instructions – within a computer. Computers do not work without software. Hardware, in this context, refers to the physical components of a computer system. The screen (monitor), mouse, and motherboard, for example, are hardware items.

Nature.com has the following definition of the term:

“Information technology is the design and implementation of computer networks for data processing and communication.”

“This includes designing the hardware for processing information and connecting separate components, and developing software that can efficiently and faultlessly analyze and distribute this data.”

According to Valforex, the term Information Technology first appeared in the English language in 1958 in a Harvard Business Review article.

Information Technology
Information technology covers a vast area. According to Wikipedia: “The term is commonly used as a synonym for computers and computer networks, but it also encompasses other information distribution technologies such as television and telephones. Several products or services within an economy are associated with information technology.”

Information technology vs. computer science

The terms information technology and computer science cover similar areas. Although their meanings overlap a lot, their focus is different.

  • Computer science

We can say computer science or CS. CS focuses entirely on efficiently programming computers. Computer scientists use mathematical algorithms. They study theoretical algorithms and the practical problems that exist in implementing them through computer software and hardware.

Artificial intelligence, computer graphics, and programming are sub-fields of computer science. If you need programming help, you need help in a field of computer science. Software engineering is also part of computer science. Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to software technologies that make computers think and behave like humans. Most robots have artificial intelligence in their software.

  • Information technology

IT involves installing, organizing, and maintaining computer systems. It also involves designing and operating databases and networks.

Computer Science Degree Hub says the following regarding careers in IT and computer science:

“IT professionals typically work in a business environment installing internal networks and computer systems and perhaps programming.”

“Computer scientists work in a wider range of environments, ranging from businesses to universities to video game design companies.”

For those who want to combine business and IT skills, there’s increasing demand for positions in the management of information technology. According to Maryville University, you can use a degree in Management Information Systems to:

“Qualify for jobs in major tech companies, software publishers, government agencies, information security firms, consulting firms, financial and insurance services, information services, computer system design services, and private enterprises.”

If you want to become an IT professional, you should enjoy using software, installing computer systems, and maintaining databases and networks.

If, on the other hand, you enjoy software design and mathematics, computer science is more up your street.

Regarding the similarities of the two fields, Computer Science Degree Hub says:

“In general, the relationship between information technology and computer science is quite close and interdependent.”

Despite their interconnectedness, each field uniquely contributes to the advancements in our digital world, often collaborating to innovate and solve complex technological challenges.

Moreover, the growth of mobile technology and cloud computing is expanding the scope of IT, creating new opportunities for integration with computer science expertise.

Information technology a relatively new term

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the term ‘information technology’ has been around since 1958. It first appeared in the Harvard Business Review. Etymology is the study of the origin of words and how their meanings have evolved.

In 1958, Harold J. Leavitt and Thomas L. Whisler wrote the following in a Harvard Business Review article:

“The new technology does not yet have a single established name. We shall call it information technology. It is composed of several related parts.

Compound nouns with “IT”

In the world of information technology, numerous compound nouns – terms composed of two or more words – incorporate the acronym “IT.” One such term is “IT Professional.” Let’s look at some of them, their meanings, and how we can use them in a sentence:

  • IT Infrastructure

he composite hardware, software, network resources, and services required for the existence, operation, and management of an enterprise IT environment.
Example: “The company invested heavily in its IT infrastructure to support the increased remote workforce.”

  • IT Professional

An individual with expertise in computing and related technology, often responsible for managing IT infrastructure, software, and other technological aspects of a business.
Example: “The IT professional recommended updating our cybersecurity protocols to protect against new threats.”

  • IT Management

The discipline whereby all of the information technology resources of a firm are managed in accordance with its needs and priorities.
Example: “Effective IT management ensures that all technological resources are aligned with the company’s business goals.”

  • IT Services

Services provided by enterprises to design, create, deliver, operate, and control information technology services offered to customers.
Example: “Our company relies on external IT services to maintain our network infrastructure.”

  • IT Consultant

A professional that provides expert advice in the area of information technology and computer systems to organizations.
Example: “The IT consultant provided valuable insights on how we could improve our software deployment strategies.”

  • IT Security

Measures and protocols put in place to protect information technology systems from theft, damage, or unauthorized access.
Example: “After a recent data breach, the firm decided to invest more in IT security to protect client data.”

  • IT Policy

Guidelines and rules that govern the use of information technology within an organization to secure its information and IT systems.
Example: “All employees must adhere to the IT policy to ensure responsible use of the company’s digital resources.”

Two Videos

These two YouTube videos come from our sister channel, Marketing Business Network or MBN. They explain what the terms “Information Technology (IT)” and “Cyber” mean using easy-to-understand language and examples:

  • What is Information Technology (IT)?

  • What is Cyber?