In the business of computers, technology and programming, the term "IT" is often used as the umbrella term for all areas of computing. It’s a shortened abbreviation of the words "information technology." When professionals refer to “IT,” they are often calling attention to areas that involve hardware/software, Web programming, computer engineering, network administration and other computer-linked fields in an organization.
The history of information technology as a management concept arose from a 1958 Harvard Business Review article with the prescient title of
Management in the 1980s, a very forward-thinking piece that first coined the term information technology. The article described how information technology will transform business in three key areas:
- High-speed data processing
- Statistical application in decision making
- Higher-level business via computer programs
Once computers started to appear in military and government practice, and later in everyday business practice, the term “IT” was used to describe the work processes and management practices involved in the related computer technologies. How these processes and practices evolved with the company or organization became the ongoing definition of information technology.
IT is focused on the evolving aspects of technology and how the best areas can be harnessed for human potential (and also in many cases, commercial success). Companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Netflix have all harnessed information technology to drive their global success. The evolution of IT will continue to depend on how digitization, automation, digital security and artificial intelligence all take hold in the coming years.
Modern Day IT
IT departments today generally oversee all aspects of how technology affects the organization. IT in business is a revenue driver, a cost center and on the leading edge of business practices. Many businesses now have a CIO, or Chief Information Officer, on the Executive Staff to oversee IT departments.
The Internet in particular has reached many areas of our lives. Today, there is a new term called “The Internet of Things” that explains our ability to use the Internet to control lights, screens, appliances and more with our mobile devices. This area is sure to grow in the coming years.
As information technology has exploded in growth in work, life, and leisure, there is an increasing demand for workers with experience in the field.
Employees in an organization’s IT department may work in a variety of tech-related areas. These could include:
- Web development
- Network administration
- Strategic operations
- Information architecture
- Network engineering
What’s Ahead for IT?
As information technology evolves, along with the Internet’s place in our daily lives, so too have the concerns and questions of information technology. Participants in the field often look ahead to future scenarios, rather than look back at what’s gone before. In business, information technology will likely stay committed to its core goals of bringing more efficiency by automating processes, democratizing data and reducing user friction to create a seamless technology experience.