In its early days, computers were nothing more than “giant machines” that streamlined logical tasks in research institutions, large companies and government entities. But with technological advancement, these machines have not only become more compact, they have also become more reliable and powerful. So expressive, computational evolution has led us to a concept that is present in all areas of knowledge: Information Technology (IT) .
This denomination makes a lot of sense. If we look closely, we will see that information has always been behind all development efforts in computing, from the primitive computers of the last century to the very modern servers, PCs, notebooks, smartphones and other electronic devices that surround us today.
First of all: what is information?
From an analytical point of view, information is an asset, a set of data that has value. When digital, this data does not correspond merely to a bunch of bits and bytes , but to a classified and organized set of details that, as such, can be used by people, educational and research institutions, governments and other organizations in favor of a or more goals.
In this sense, information is so important that it can even determine the survival of a business, for example. Just think about what would happen if a financial institution lost all of its customer information or imagined itself in the role of a person who gets rich overnight by discovering valuable information by analyzing large volumes of data.
Information is so important that organizations of all sizes and industries constantly invest in technologies for obtaining, classifying, analyzing, protecting and preserving data.
This is where Information Technology comes to play an important role in the daily lives of individuals and organizations. It is the decisions linked to this concept that will define how data can be collected, analyzed and classified to be transformed into information and, from there, be made available, accessed, processed and protected for the benefit of a certain purpose.
So, what is IT?
Information Technology (or, in English according to AbbreviationFinder, Information Technology – IT) can be defined as the set of all activities and solutions provided by computational resources that aim to allow obtaining, storing, protecting, processing, accessing, management and use of information.
This set of solutions is essentially composed of a combination of equipment (hardware) and software:
- Hardware: PCs, notebooks, servers, tablets, smartphones, network equipment (such as routers and switches), printers, barcode readers, among others;
- Software: operating systems, applications (programs), communication protocols, antivirus, ERP solutions , digital certificates , technologies such as blockchain and so on.
Why is Information Technology important?
If information is an asset, an asset that adds value and gives meaning to the most diverse activities, it is important to ensure that hardware and software resources are applied and maintained in a manner consistent with each activity. That’s why companies and other organizations often rely on an IT department (or similar division).
This IT department can work on its own, be outsourced – when IT services are provided by professionals or external companies – or, even, correspond to a combination of both.
What matters is that IT-related decisions are made and executed in a way that ensures that the activities that depend on them obtain the necessary resources and results.
A supermarket chain, for example, needs to guarantee that its sales system will be in operation during the entire commercial operation, otherwise, the loss will be great; likewise, a hotel must have a well-developed system to avoid booking rooms for two customers at the same time.
In addition to taking into account aspects such as performance (it is undesirable that the application is slow or unstable), availability (the system cannot be inoperable when in use) and security (to avoid data theft, for example), the IT department needs to make well-considered decisions to avoid wasting resources or unexpected expenses.
Take this example as a basis: if a company renovates its computer park by buying machines with very powerful video cards for employees who only need to access internal systems and office tools (such as Microsoft Office), it is making an unnecessary expense.
Powerful video cards are expensive and, therefore, should only be targeted at professionals who really benefit from them, such as video editors or game developers. Buying good quality computers does not mean acquiring the most sophisticated options, but those that have the necessary resources for each activity.
Another example: a company with 20 employees acquired a server for sharing and storing files over a network that supports 500 simultaneous users. If the company does not expect to significantly increase its workforce, buying a server like this is the same as purchasing a bus for a family of five.
There’s more: if that server stops working, the files will be unavailable, a situation that will certainly hinder the company’s activities. Wouldn’t it be the case, then, to purchase a server more suited to the size of the company or, depending on the circumstances, adopt a more flexible solution, such as a service based on cloud computing ?
These examples show that, regardless of the line of business or activity, Information Technology is part of the “gears” that move companies and other organizations, so it needs to be treated with priority – correct decisions will bring positive results; omissions or precipitations will have bad consequences.
Because it is so relevant, IT ends up having an intimate relationship with strategic planning routines, financial control, project management and, of course, human resources – that is, the functions performed by IT professionals.
An IT department can be divided into at least three areas:
- IT Governance : brings together professionals and resources that deal with processes, policies, standards, strategies and analyzes related to IT. This is a more managerial area, so to speak;
- Operational IT : concentrates professionals and resources that put Information Technology in the organization’s day-to-day. It includes divisions such as technical support, systems implementation, security analysis, among others;
- IT infrastructure : it is the part that deals with equipment (such as servers, PC parks and network routers) and communication structures (such as network cabling), for example.
These divisions can work together or, still, have connection with external sectors.
Also take into account that, depending on the industry or the size of the business, a company may have other internal divisions linked to IT, such as an area dedicated exclusively to software development.
The IT professional
The tasks of planning, management, development, implementation, maintenance, updating, security, optimization and support (whew!) Related to computational solutions are the responsibility of IT professionals .
But there is no “handyman” here. Because of its breadth, the Information Technology area can be divided into several sectors, as you saw above, in the same way that medicine has numerous specializations, for example.
In this sense, we can find IT professionals working in the market for each of the following segments: database, data analysis (like professionals who deal with Big Data), development, infrastructure, networks (including those linked to the telecommunications sector) , security, user support, resource management, among others.
For each of these segments, there are subdivisions. For example, in development, there are professionals who work only with commercial software (such as ERP), others who work with creating applications for mobile devices, those who work on web systems and so on.
As a rule, those interested in pursuing a career in the IT field take courses such as computer science, computer engineering and information systems . But those are not the only options. There are several types of IT courses, including with a technical focus, such as network technology, database technology and management technology.
IT professionals can also count on certifications for specializations and postgraduate courses (for professionals already graduated, of course).
Who needs IT? Nowadays, society as a whole. Today, Information Technology is related to the most diverse areas of knowledge and is increasingly present in people’s daily lives, even when they do not realize it.
If you file income taxes, your data is processed by government computers; if you take a passport, your information is registered in a Federal Police database (or other competent body, according to the country); if you shop on an e-commerce site, the store’s sales system drops inventory.
Anyway, examples abound. And note that information is always the central element of these and other activities. Information Technology is not only synonymous with modernity, therefore. Above all, it is a necessity of the new times, after all, information has always existed, but not in such a voluminous and usable way.