Information technology can be described as the application of computers to store, transmit, retrieve and manipulate data. It can also be described as the use of any technology to create, store, process, secure and/or exchange all kinds of electronic data. In more general terms, the definition of information technology can be anything that involves computers, servers, software, networks, databases, intranets, web sites and telecommunications.
Today, most of the modern businesses and organizations heavily depend on the information systems, from database management and employee email to to eCommerce websites. Hospitals have huge patient databases for storing patients information, Universities have lots of sprawling networks, and even small businesses use IT to track their progress.
A Brief History of Information Technology
After understanding the definition of information technology, let’s now look at its’ history. The IT industry originated with the 1st giant calculators digitally manipulating and processing numbers, and then later expanded to digitize various other areas. However, it was til the 1980’s when all computer related activities started revolving around interactions between a computer and a person.
When the first Personal computer arrived, it was simply a mainframe on a desk. It brought about a great stream of enhanced personal productivity applications which in turn contributed to the growth of the enterprise data, along with the start of digitizing various home based and leisure related activities.
However, the major leap occurred when personal computers got connected to one another via the Local Area Networks (that is LAN). This is where Ethernet became standard, and then long distance via WANs (that is, Wide Area Networks). At this age you could use a PC to digitally create a memo (that you previously had to type on the typewriter), and distribute it via email. The computer networks made the whole process digitized, ensuring proliferation of messages; this drastically increased the amounts of data moved, created, stored and consumed. The connection of people in the vast and widely distributed network of PCs, increased the amounts of data generated and also led to new ways of getting more value out of it, which unleashed numerous new enterprise applications and data mining.
The next major phase in IT evolution came with the invention of World Wide Web (also known as the Internet). It led to proliferation of numerous new applications that were no longer limited to the enterprise related activities, but digitized nearly every other day to day activity. Most importantly, the internet provided us with many tools which greatly facilitated creation and sharing of data with anybody with access to Internet.
Currently, we might be already experiencing the next phase of evolution in IT. The cloud and The Internet of Things might actually be sketching for us the next phase of IT.
Importance of Information Technology
Now that we have learned about the history, lets now take a look at its’ importance. Well, with the introduction of computers, the world got changed forever. Using software and computers, many businesses use IT to make sure that all of their departments run efficiently and smoothly. They use IT in numerous different departments such as security, human resources, finance, manufacturing, and many others.
Information technology has actually become one of the major driving forces in most organizations and businesses. These organizations and businesses are seeking to get information technology applications that can help them sell services and products more effectively. For instance, by using the Internet, businesses and organizations can move information/data much faster, and also coordinate numerous activities in order to achieve efficiency and enhance productivity. They can also use the internet to market and sell their products and services. In the business community, the internet has helped create a networked economy where most businesses/companies are linked with their customers, partners, and manufacturers in real time. Lets take a closer look at the importance of information technology;
Information technology users can utilize tools like personal computers to do different tasks much faster and more accurately. Computers can multitask and perform numerous functions at the same time; this helps the users perform their tasks on time, and also helps reduce tension, stress and fatigue at work. A computer has applications that can store data/information in systematic ways making it much easier to organize and understand the important facts. Internet is another important tool which can be easily accessed at any time, any where, allowing users to easily interact with one another, and readily exchange information. Organizations and businesses can utilize the internet to communicate and interact with customers, and respond to their particular needs. Actually, time is a rather basic factor in life and in business, so IT speeds up the process of doing things which in turn saves time.
Well, information technological systems can operate 24/7. The systems only require proper maintenance and repairs when need be, otherwise, they can run all year round interrupted. This is ideal for both organizations/businesses and customers who require services on time. The IT systems ensure the customers receive reliable services.
Consistency and Accuracy
Although information technology is basically managed by people, it’s always more accurate. Users are normally well trained on exactly how to use the IT tools. For instance, an accountant has to be well trained on exactly how to use various accounting software such as Quick books to carry out accounting tasks. The user requires formal knowledge on accounting basics so that they’re well equipped with the necessary IT knowledge and understanding to help them perform their accounting tasks. With the right knowledge and the necessary IT tools, users can achieve consistency and accuracy in all that they do.
In business, information technology also helps in bringing down some costs by automating the systems, utilizing cheaper platforms for advertising and marketing, and using cost effective communication alternatives.
As definition of information technology clearly states, the IT systems offer faster ways of creating, manipulating and transmitting data. These in turn enhances efficiency in many day to day activities such record creation, transactions, and calculations. This ultimately results in more efficient service delivery.
Information technology helps in enhancing the physical security of organizations and businesses, and also ensures safe keeping of the delicate data and information.
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