For many people, information technology (IT) is basically synonymous with the guys and gals you call when you need help with a computer problem. While this view of information technology is not entirely wrong, it drastically underestimates the scope of this important career field.
If you want to better understand information technology and the many facets of this field, you've come to the right place. We did our research and spoke with IT industry experts to create this helpful guide for beginners.
What is information technology and what does it include?
The most basic definition of information technology is that it is the application of technology to solve large-scale business or organizational problems. Regardless of role, a member of an IT department works collaboratively with others to solve technology problems big and small.
There are three main pillars of responsibility for an IT department:
- IT Governance:This refers to the combination of policies and processes that ensure that IT systems are operated effectively and in accordance with the organization's needs.
- IT Operations:This is a comprehensive category for the day-to-day work of an IT department. This includes providing technical support, network maintenance, security testing, and device management tasks.
- Hardware and infrastructure:This focus area relates to all physical components of the IT infrastructure. This pillar of IT includes the configuration and maintenance of devices such as routers, servers, telephone systems and individual devices such as laptops.
While a company's IT department plays many different roles and plays a crucial role in keeping things running, says Andrey Prokopchuk, head of IT atBelitsoft, says the perfect IT department is one you don't even know about. This means they can automate many of their daily tasks and create processes to keep the business running smoothly. The ideal IT department is also aligned with business objectives and transparent enough in its processes for the rest of the organization to understand and contribute.
Why is information technology important?
Simply put, without functioning IT systems, most companies' work would progress slowly. You'll be hard-pressed to find a company that doesn't rely, at least in part, on computers and the networks that connect them. Maintaining a standard level of service, security, and connectivity is a daunting task, but it's not the only priority or potential challenge on your plates.
More and more companies want to implement more intuitive and sophisticated solutions. "IT can give a company the edge it needs to outsmart, outrun and outperform its competitors," said Edward Kiledjian, director of information security andtechnology blogger. Let's take a look at the needs that current and future IT professionals will be working on:
- Data overload:Businesses need to process large amounts of data. This requires massive amounts of computing power, sophisticated software, and human analytical skills.
- Mobile and wireless uses:More and more employers are offering remote work options that require smartphones, tablets and laptops with wireless access points and roaming capabilities.
- Cloud services:Most companies no longer operate their own "server farms" to store large amounts of data. Many companies are now working with cloud services - third party hosting platforms that manage this data.
- Bandwidth for video hosting:Videoconferencing solutions are becoming more popular, requiring more network bandwidth to support them properly.
Given the scale of these needs, you probably won't be too surprised to learn that jobs in computing and information technology occupations are expected to grow by 13% from 2016 to 2026, which, according to theDepartment of Labor Statistics.*
Hardware vs. Software
You know that working with hardware and software is a big part of an IT department's job, but what counts as hardware? And what is software? Let's break down this important difference.
Hardware includes all physical parts of a computer system. This includes the hardware installed in the computer, such as the motherboard, CPU and hard drive. Hardware also describes components that can be attached to the outside of a computer, such as a keyboard, mouse, and printer. However, keep in mind that some smaller tablets and laptops do integrate elements such as a keyboard and mouse into 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 includes all electronically stored data, applications and programs such as an operating system or video editing tool.
How does this distinction apply to an IT career? Almost every IT job requires a combination of hardware and software-based experience. Some IT teams may spend more time configuring hardware components, but these components are also controlled by software. Additionally, IT professionals are responsible for deploying and configuring software applications for users.
IT career opportunities
Now that you understand the general responsibilities of an IT department, you might be wondering what each role is. Here are some of the positions you'll find in many IT departments:
- IT support specialistsWork on the front lines of technology troubleshooting, including software issues, computer crashes and hardware issues. These specialists can also help higher-level IT members with larger network issues.
- network system administratorsFocus on the networking, security, and performance overview.
- computer systems analystsWork behind the scenes to connect IT with intelligent business solutions. They typically specialize in a specific industry while working for a tech company or working directly in an industry like finance or government.
- information security analystsare responsible for securing an organization's computer networks by conducting tests and developing security best practices across the enterprise.
Please note that some of these roles will change depending on the size and scope of the company. In smaller companies, most of your day-to-day work may revolve around relatively mundane things like troubleshooting printers, but on the other hand, you may need to be more of a jack of all trades with broader knowledge. In large organizations, IT professionals have a more diverse range of potential focus areas – some may move into strategic planning and managerial roles, while others pursue specialist areas such as cybersecurity.
What qualities do employers look for in IT candidates?
The most suitable candidates for the IT job are those who have strong communication skills. From helping executives develop sophisticated technology solutions to troubleshooting network issues, IT professionals need a level of empathy that allows them to see exactly what a customer or employee is dealing with and put them at peace. problem problem.
This might mean breaking a big problem or end goal into several steps so that the stakeholder can see exactly what is needed to achieve it. Taking the time to define and explain what is needed can help an IT department better meet stakeholder expectations and maximize the department's time, according to Keri Peterson, IT business analyst and project manager atNorthwest University St. Paul. Many companies want to use technology as a means to an end, and a competent IT department can help them achieve that goal.
A positive attitude and passion for technology can help an IT professional thrive and prosper. Jack Bedell Pearce, managing director of4D data centers, says that the combination of these qualities promotes greater responsibility. Furthermore, this passion for technology will make it much easier and more enjoyable to stay up to date with the latest technologies and advancements - another must for the IT professional.
Are you fit for an IT career?
Now that you have a better understanding of the fundamentals of information technology and the importance of the field, you might be wondering if a career in technology is right for you. Our article "8 Signs You Like Technology' represents some of the indicator indicators that you would do well in a technology-related degree.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Perspectives Handbook, [information accessed November 5, 2018]https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm. The information represents national averages for the occupations listed and includes workers of all levels of education and experience. Terms of employment in your region may vary.