What is information technology?

Information Technology (IT) refers to the utilization of computers and telecommunication equipment for storing, retrieving, transmitting, and manipulating data. It serves as the cornerstone of modern technology, fundamentally transforming how we live, work, and communicate.


Information technology (IT) encompasses the utilization of computers, storage, networking, and other physical devices, along with infrastructure and processes, to generate, process, store, secure, and exchange electronic data in various forms. It is predominantly employed within business operations rather than for personal or entertainment purposes. The commercial application of IT includes both computer technology and telecommunications.

The term “information technology” was introduced by the Harvard Business Review to differentiate between purpose-built machines with limited functions and general-purpose computing machines that could be programmed for diverse tasks. Over the evolution of the IT industry since the mid-20th century, computing capability has increased while device cost and energy consumption have decreased, a trend that persists today with the emergence of new technologies.

What does information technology encompass?

The IT department is responsible for ensuring that an organization’s systems, networks, data, and applications are interconnected and functioning effectively. The IT team manages three main areas:

  1. Deployment and maintenance of business applications, services, and infrastructure such as servers, networks, and storage.
  2. Monitoring, optimization, and troubleshooting of application, service, and infrastructure performance.
  3. Oversight of security and governance measures for applications, services, and infrastructure.

Within the IT team, staff members have diverse responsibilities, including:

Administration: Administrators handle the day-to-day operations, deployment, and monitoring of the IT environment, covering systems, networks, and applications. They may also handle tasks like software upgrades, user training, software licensing, procurement, security, data management, and ensuring compliance with business processes and regulations.

Support: Help desk staff specialize in responding to queries, collecting information, and guiding troubleshooting efforts for both hardware and software issues. They may also manage IT assets, assist administrators with procurement, handle data and application backups and recovery, monitor performance through logs and other tools, and adhere to established support workflows and procedures.

Applications: Many businesses rely on software to conduct their operations. Some applications are acquired from third-party vendors, while others are developed in-house by skilled developers to meet specific business needs. Developers work with various programming languages to create applications and interfaces, including APIs, to deliver essential business services. They may also be involved in building interactive business websites and mobile applications. With the shift towards agile or continuous development methodologies, developers are increasingly involved in IT operations such as deployment and monitoring of applications.

Compliance: IT staff members play a crucial role in ensuring that businesses comply with government and industry regulations related to data security and access control. They work closely with legal and business teams to establish and enforce policies that govern access to business data and applications. This involves tasks such as security management, monitoring, and investigating potential breaches, as well as reporting incidents to relevant authorities.

Why is information technology important?

Information technology is important for several reasons:

  1. Efficiency: IT streamlines processes and automates tasks, leading to increased efficiency in various sectors such as business, healthcare, education, and government. It reduces manual labor and human errors, resulting in higher productivity and cost savings.
  2. Communication: IT enables instant communication and collaboration through emails, messaging apps, video conferencing, and social media platforms. It connects people globally, facilitating knowledge sharing and enhancing teamwork.
  3. Access to Information: IT provides access to vast amounts of information and resources on the internet. It allows individuals to research, learn, and stay informed about current events, trends, and developments across different fields.
  4. Innovation: IT drives innovation by enabling the development of new technologies, products, and services. It fosters creativity and problem-solving, leading to advancements in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology, and renewable energy.
  5. Globalization: IT has transformed the global economy by facilitating international trade, outsourcing, and supply chain management. It connects businesses with customers and partners worldwide, expanding market reach and growth opportunities.
  6. Education: IT enhances educational experiences by providing access to online learning platforms, digital textbooks, educational apps, and interactive multimedia content. It promotes lifelong learning and skill development in a rapidly changing world.
  7. Healthcare: IT improves patient care and healthcare delivery through electronic health records, telemedicine, medical imaging, wearable devices, and health monitoring systems. It enhances diagnosis, treatment, and disease prevention, leading to better health outcomes.
  8. Security: IT plays a crucial role in safeguarding data, networks, and systems from cyber threats such as viruses, malware, phishing attacks, and data breaches. It employs encryption, authentication, and other security measures to protect sensitive information and ensure privacy.

Overall, information technology has become an integral part of modern society, driving progress, innovation, and economic development across the globe.

Difference between Software vs. hardware

Software and hardware are two essential components of computer systems, each serving distinct functions:


  • Software refers to the programs, applications, and instructions that tell a computer what to do.
  • It includes operating systems, such as Windows, macOS, and Linux, which manage hardware resources and provide a user interface.
  • Application software, such as word processors, web browsers, and video games, performs specific tasks based on user commands or input.
  • Software can be further categorized into system software, which manages hardware resources and provides essential services, and application software, which fulfills specific user needs or tasks.
  • Software can be modified, updated, and customized to suit individual preferences and requirements.


  • Hardware refers to the physical components of a computer system, including the central processing unit (CPU), memory (RAM), storage devices (hard drives, solid-state drives), input/output devices (keyboard, mouse, monitor), and peripherals (printers, scanners, speakers).
  • Hardware components work together to process data, execute instructions, store information, and interact with users.
  • Hardware is manufactured and assembled using various electronic and mechanical components.
  • Unlike software, hardware is tangible and can be physically touched and manipulated.
  • Upgrading or replacing hardware components can improve system performance, speed, and capabilities.

In summary, software comprises programs and instructions that govern the operation of a computer system, while hardware consists of the physical components that enable computing functions. Both software and hardware are essential for the functioning of modern computer systems, with each serving specific roles in processing and managing data.

Difference between Information technology vs. computer science

Information Technology (IT) and Computer Science are related fields within the realm of computing, but they focus on different aspects:

Information Technology (IT):

  • Information Technology primarily deals with the implementation, maintenance, and use of computer systems, networks, and software to manage and process data.
  • IT professionals are responsible for the practical application of technology within various industries, such as business, healthcare, education, and government.
  • Key areas within IT include network administration, system administration, database management, cybersecurity, and technical support.
  • IT professionals typically work to ensure that technology infrastructure functions efficiently, securely, and in alignment with organizational goals and objectives.
  • IT coursework may cover topics such as computer hardware, networking fundamentals, operating systems, database management, web development, and cybersecurity.

Computer Science:

  • Computer Science is a broader field that encompasses the study of algorithms, data structures, programming languages, software engineering, and theoretical foundations of computing.
  • Computer scientists focus on designing and developing software, systems, and algorithms to solve complex problems and advance technology.
  • Key areas within Computer Science include artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, software development, computer graphics, and computer theory.
  • Computer scientists often work on research, innovation, and development of new technologies, as well as creating software applications and systems that power various industries.
  • Computer Science coursework may cover programming languages, algorithms and data structures, computer architecture, software engineering principles, and theoretical concepts of computation.

In summary, Information Technology (IT) is more concerned with the practical application and management of technology within organizations, while Computer Science is focused on the theoretical and technical aspects of computing, including software development and algorithm design. Both fields are integral to the advancement of technology and play crucial roles in shaping the modern world.

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