Information Technology (IT)

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What is Information Technology (IT)?

Information technology (IT) refers to any hardware component, software component, or service that is used to process, store, secure, generate, or transmit information.


Hardware describes the physical components of IT infrastructure. Software describes the logical components that run on hardware – and services describe activities that optimize the use of both hardware and software components. 

An IT department’s overall strategy, budget, and performance are typically overseen by a Chief Information Officer (CIO). In large organizations, a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) will sometimes share responsibilities with the CIO

Typically, the CIO focuses on aligning IT strategies with business objectives, managing IT investments, and ensuring the smooth operation of IT services. The Chief Technology Officer’s job is focused more on the technology itself. 

Techopedia Explains IT Definition

Harold J. Leavitt and Thomas L. Whisler are credited with coining the term ‘information technology’ to differentiate between machines specifically designed for limited functions and general-purpose computers that can be programmed for various tasks.

In a paper published in 1958 by the Harvard Business Review, Leavitt and Whisler’s IT definition described the convergence of three emerging use cases for computers: processing large amounts of data, applying statistical and mathematical methods to decision-making challenges, and simulating complex thought processes through computer programs.


In the last fifty years, since the invention of the microprocessor, information technologies have advanced rapidly. Today they are an essential part of commerce, and businesses of all types have come to view IT as an essential service.

This evolution has transformed how companies operate, communicate, and interact with their customers. The increasing availability of internet access and digital platforms, as well as advancements in artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and mobile technology, have integrated IT into every aspect of business. 

The History of Information Technology

In the past, information technology was often considered to be a component of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) – and many large corporations had separate IT and ICT departments, each with distinct responsibilities and workflows.

The IT department typically had a narrow focus that involved managing internal computing systems, networks, and data.

The ICT department had a broader focus that involved working with IT, as well as managing telecommunications technology, integrating internal and external networks, and conducting business with tech vendors.

Essentially, the IT department was responsible for the organization’s local area network (LAN) and the ICT department was responsible for the organization’s wide area network (WAN). 

Now that communication technology has been digitized and cloud services have become the norm, the distinction between IT and ICT has blurred. Today, many large corporations have merged the two departments under the umbrella of “enterprise IT” or simply “IT.” 

This change reflects a more unified approach to managing today’s hybrid information and communication technologies, as well as a change in focus from “keeping the lights on” to using technology to drive business innovation, enhance operational efficiency, and create strategic advantages.

Examples of IT

Information technology includes the hardware, software, and IT services that are used to process, store, secure, generate, and transmit information. 


Hardware refers to the physical components of a computer system or network. Examples include: 


Software refers to the application programs used to operate computers and execute specific tasks. Examples include:

IT Services

In the context of information technology, the term service refers to any activity or task an IT department is responsible for. Examples include: 

IT Service Management

Why is IT So Important?

Over the years, IT has inspired new business models, changed the way businesses interact with customers, and changed the way people work. Today, IT plays a critical role in business sustainability and growth in the global market.

Sector Importance of IT
Communication IT has made it easier for people to share information, collaborate, and maintain relationships regardless of distance.
Education Online courses, e-learning tools, and educational apps have made education more accessible and interactive, enabling remote learning and personalized educational experiences.
Business Efficiency IT enhances efficiency by automating manual workflow processes, providing analytical tools for better decision-making, and enabling e-commerce.
Healthcare In healthcare, IT has improved patient care and research. Electronic health records (EHR), telemedicine, and AI-enabled health informatics systems have streamlined the way health data is stored, shared, and analyzed. 
Banking and Finance IT has revolutionized the way banks and financial investment firms interact with their customers. With the help of online banking, mobile payment solutions, and automated trading platforms, financial transactions are faster and safer than ever.
Cybersecurity IT plays a crucial role in protecting data and ensuring the security of online transactions and communications. IT professionals are responsible for implementing security measures, such as firewalls, encryption, and intrusion detection systems, to protect against unauthorized access, data breaches, and other cyber threats. They also manage the infrastructure that supports secure communications and transactions.
Governance IT has improved the accessibility and efficiency of government services. IT contributions include online portals for public services and digital platforms for citizen IDs.
Innovation & Growth IT is a major driver of innovation and economic growth. It creates job opportunities and plays an important role in the development of new products and services.

IT Careers

IT and computer science are overlapping career paths that have different emphases. 

IT professionals are responsible for deploying and maintaining computing technology. Their focus is on using technology to solve real-world business problems.

In contrast, computer science professionals are more concerned with the theoretical foundations of IT, including the development of algorithms

If you enjoy troubleshooting technical problems and using technology to ensure business operations run smoothly, then an IT career might be a good fit for you. If you’re more interested in creating new technologies and solving complex problems using code, then a computer science career might be more your calling.

IT professionals often work in office settings, and their ‘customers’ are internal end users. They may also work remotely or on-call, depending on their specific role. Successful job candidates have excellent problem-solving abilities, communication skills, and customer service skills.

Salaries for IT jobs can vary widely depending on experience, skills, and location. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for IT professionals in the United States was $100,530 in 2022.

IT Certifications

While a bachelor’s degree in IT or a related field is often preferred, many IT jobs can be obtained with an associate degree, on-the-job training, and certifications in specific areas of IT such as cybersecurity, data science, data management, and cloud security.

Popular information technology certifications that are known for paying well include:


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.