Information technology (IT) refers to the management and use of information using computer-based tools. It includes acquiring, processing, storing, and distributing information. Most commonly it is a term used to refer to business applications of computer technology, rather than scientific applications. The term is used broadly in business to refer to anything that ties into the use of computers.
Mostly businesses today create data that can be stored and processed on computers. In some cases the data must be input to computers using devices such as keyboards and scanners. In other cases the data might be created electronically and automatically stored in computers.
Small businesses generally need to purchase software packages, and may need to contract with IT businesses that provide services such as hosting, marketing web sites and maintaining networks. However, larger companies can consider having their own IT staffs to develop software, and otherwise handle IT needs in-house. For instance, businesses working with the federal government are likely to need to comply with requirements relating to making information accessible.
The constant upgrade in information technology, along with increasing global competition, is adding difficulty and hesitation of several orders of scale to the business and trade. One of the most widely discussed areas in recent business literature is that of new organizational network structures that hold survival and growth in an environment of growing complexity.
Effective implementation of information technology would decrease liability by reducing the cost of expected failures and increase flexibility by reducing the cost of adjustment. The businesses reaction to the environment remains to be the vital determinant for its effectiveness. The capabilities and flexibilities of computer-communication systems make them gradually more appropriate to businesses by being able to respond to any specific information or communication requirement.
Information Technology is having impact on all trade industries and businesses, in service as well as in manufacturing. It is affecting workers at all levels of organizations, from the executives to middle management and clerks. Information technology is increasingly becoming a basic factor of all types of technologies such as craft, engineering, routine, and non-routine.
The advances in Information Technology would result in remarkable decline in the costs of synchronization that would lead to new, concentrated business structures. It enables the business to respond to the new and urgent competitive forces by providing effective management of interdependence.
In the near future businesses would be facing a lack and a redundancy of information called information glut. To solve the information-glut companies will need to introduce methods for selective thinning out of information. Improvements in telecommunications will make it easier to control business units dispersed over different parts of the world. Advances in telecommunications, would result in increased distance-communication. Indirect communication would be preferred for well-structured information for routine, preprogrammed and decision processes.
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Strictly speaking, Information Technology (IT) has been influencing society for thousands of years. Smoke signals, the abacus, writing, paper, pens and the printing press were all once considered the forefront of IT because those technologies were the latest and greatest in communication.
But today it is widely accepted that the forefront of IT lies in digital communications. As with all historical Information Technology developments, digital communication technology is revolutionary in terms of society, business, defence and culture.
But what is it about digital communications that sets it apart from all other previous technological advances? What is the role that this technology can play in modern society?
Firstly, IT acts as a facilitator. It is a medium that permits large volumes of information to be stored, processed or transferred at lightning speed. This means that there is more information at hand to make decisions, maintain relationships, monitor markets or follow movements.
The power of this notion should not be underestimated, it allows people to make decisions based on masses of up to date information. The military, educational institutions and large business have long understood the power of this notion but it has only been in the last ten years that mainstream society has also embraced the power of information for both social movements and small business.
Secondly, Information Technology is an enabler. Only a select minority of specialized companies in the world can claim that IT is their business. Most corporations and institutions use Information Technology to enable functions that drive their core business. This may include better communication between staff, suppliers or customers or it may include better asset management. Whatever the function, digital communication makes the storage, processing or transfer of information more efficient than ever before. But it is important to note that in essence it does not change core businesses, ideals, ethics or movements. It just enables them to function at a greater scale much more efficiently.
Lastly, Information Technology assumes the role of custodian. As data and information is amassed on just about any subject you care to imagine, massive stores of data are emerging ready to service any new requests. And therein lies the security paradox that modern Information Technology presents. One can argue that more available information makes our lives more efficient, safer and richer. Whilst the other argument is that the very same information that provides these benefits is also our achilles heal due to the security implications of unauthorized infiltration.
There is little doubt that the role of information technology is directed and constrained by the very technology that defines it. Today, that technology allows us to collect, manipulate and communicate masses of information. As a consequence, the role of IT revolves around improving the efficiency, capacity, speed or accuracy of any elements that can benefit from the functions that modern Information Technology systems provide.