Introduction to information technology
Information technology (IT) is the bedrock of modern enterprise organizations. The term refers to computer systems, software, internet, and other infrastructure that enables an organization's core capabilities. Forward-thinking organizations view IT as a competitive advantage that allows them to work smarter and achieve their business goals.
Depending on an organization's size, the IT department is typically led by the chief information officer (CIO), chief technology officer (CTO), VP of information technology, or IT director. The department may include engineers, operators, systems architects, analysts, product managers, and project managers.
The work IT teams carry out each day is broad and varies by company. It can involve day-to-day tasks like systems administration, tech support, and security patch management. But it also involves strategic planning.
IT teams today build and implement sophisticated solutions that can profoundly impact the success of an organization — and they are increasingly doing it with a product management mindset. By working with product managers to create roadmaps for internal tools, IT teams can help solve business problems and ultimately achieve critical business initiatives like digital transformation.
The benefits span the organization, including:
Facilitating streamlined processes and workflows
Increasing visibility and communication across departments, organizations, and locations
Improving employee productivity
Supporting faster and more effective reporting
Ensuring data integrity, security, and compliance
Reducing data loss and cyber risk
Delivering new functionality to move the business forward
The IT landscape is constantly evolving. As advancements like cloud, microservices, and infrastructure as code (IaC) become more ubiquitous, IT teams are even better positioned to help organizations embrace innovation and meet customer needs.
What are the different types of IT?
IT can take the form of any technology that teams within an organization use to get their work done. That includes hardware, software, and computer systems — as well as the infrastructure (networks, data storage, memory, etc.) needed to maintain those systems.
Organizational structures differ depending on the needs of the company. Common functional areas include application development, infrastructure and network administration, user support and productivity, security, and business operations.
Application development and maintenance involves building, managing, and upgrading all of the software applications that the business uses. These may include:
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools for storing data, generating reports, controlling user permissions, and managing workflows.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools for a centralized database of customer data, communications, metrics, and more.
Product management tools that allow users to set product strategies, manage timelines, and define and prioritize work.
Marketing and sales tools to deliver marketing campaigns and sales activities.
Human resources management systems (HRMS) to manage employee information.
Budgeting, legal, and accounting tools to manage resources and finances.
Infrastructure and network administration
A company’s infrastructure and network administration includes its hardware, networks, and any components needed to manage and deliver IT systems. Until the early 2010s, most companies purchased expensive network and infrastructure hardware. Today, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) gives companies access to once expensive infrastructure through an as-needed subscription-based model. Infrastructure IT typically includes:
Equipment such as computers, printers, and routers.
Telecommunications such as internet, IP addressing, and phone services.
Operating systems that manage how computers store files, run applications, and maintain security.
Data centers for data storage, backup, and recovery.
User support and productivity
IT teams support internal and external customers and troubleshoot issues. They also help facilitate cross-functional collaboration and employee productivity. Technology includes:
Communication and meeting tools to support teamwork, including web-conferencing tools for employees who work remotely.
Process automation, Machine Learning (ML), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to improve productivity and reduce manual processes.
Collaboration tools for document sharing and real-time collaboration.
Project management tools to organize work, document progress, and manage tasks.
Security and compliance
As an organization's digital footprint grows, so does its attack surface. Security and compliance teams protect business and customer data, while ensuring that the organization complies with security regulations. Security systems and tools include:
Documentation and storage software to comply with privacy laws and safeguard sensitive information.
Data loss prevention software to monitor the flow of data.
Antivirus software to protect the organization from viruses and other damaging malware.
Effective IT departments see themselves as strategic partners to the business. Business operations bridge the entire organization — this team or function helps align teams, recognize cross-functional dependencies, and introduce new strategic initiatives. They use business analysis (BA) tools, among others, to collect and analyze the organization's data, identify trends, and provide a future outlook
IT informs the overall business strategy through well-planned IT roadmaps and helps shape customer and employee experiences. Great IT departments lead with their domain expertise and find ways to continually improve — enabling better systems, processes, and people.