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What Is IT (Information Technology)?

Jul 5, 2023

Nearly every aspect of modern life revolves around technology, and if you’re someone that enjoys keeping up with the latest advances in tech, then you may enjoy learning more about information technology (IT).

IT is a broad professional category and uses computer systems or devices to access information. It’s a significant component of business operations and the ability to access personal information in the world today. Professionals working in IT are tasked with a wide range of responsibilities that often include building communication networks, safeguarding data and information, and troubleshooting computer problems.  

While the terms “IT” and “technology” are often confused or mistakenly considered to be the same, the two are different things entirely. IT is the study of systems, and relates to computers and telecommunications, with the focus being the storage, retrieval, and sharing of information. Technology, on the other hand, refers to software and hardware developed because of the application of scientific knowledge and discovery. 

Within organizations, IT departments are tasked with maintaining hardware and software systems, including configuring and updating software applications, employee devices, servers, databases, and other IT infrastructure to ensure they connect and function properly. If IT sounds interesting to you, read on and learn more about this dynamic and exciting field.  

Definition of IT

Information technology (IT) is the use of computer systems or devices to access information. IT is used by nearly everyone, from enterprise companies to one-person businesses and local operations. IT is typically applied in the context of business operations, and uses computers, storage, networking and other physical devices, infrastructure, and processes to create, store, secure, and exchange all forms of electronic data. The commercial use of IT encompasses both computer technology and telecommunications. 

Some of the responsibilities associated with IT involve: 

  • The deployment and maintenance of business applications, services, and infrastructure (servers, networks, storage).
  • Monitoring, optimizing, and troubleshooting the performance of applications, services, and infrastructure.
  • Overseeing the security and governance of applications, services, and infrastructure.

IT, however, is a broad field and includes various positions within a team that are divided into key areas, including administration, support, applications, and compliance. 

Areas of IT    

The IT needs of a company can vary based on the organization’s industry or size, but most staff within the department will handle the following areas: 


Administrators handle the day-to-day deployment, operation and monitoring of an IT environment, including systems, networks and applications. Admins often perform a range of other duties such as software upgrades, user training, software license management, procurement, security, data management and observing adherence to business process and compliance requirements.


Businesses rely on software to perform work. Some applications are procured and deployed from third parties, such as email server applications. But many organizations retain a staff of skilled developers that create the applications and interfaces—such as application programming interfaces (APIs), or the code enables two software programs to communicate —needed to deliver critical business capabilities and services. Applications might be coded in a wide array of popular languages and integrated with other applications to create smooth and seamless interactions between different applications. Developers might also be tasked with creating interactive business websites and building mobile applications. The trend toward agile or continuous development paradigms requires developers to be increasingly involved with IT operations such as deploying and monitoring applications.


Help desk staff specialize in answering questions, gathering information and directing troubleshooting efforts for hardware and software. IT support often includes IT asset and change management, helping admins with procurement, handling backup and recovery of data and applications, monitoring and analyzing logs and other performance monitoring tools, and following established support workflows and processes.


Businesses are obligated to observe various government- and industry-driven regulations. IT staff play a major role in securing and monitoring access to business data and applications to ensure that such resources are used according to established requirements. Such staff are deeply involved with security tasks and routinely interact with legal and business teams to prevent, detect, investigate, and report possible breaches.

Why IT Matters

IT is important because it provides the means to develop, process, analyze, exchange, store, and secure information for a wide variety of purposes and uses in everyday life. People rely on computers and other devices for communication, education, banking, and shopping. Access to these activities is largely based on the quality of the technology offered by an organization. 

A company will benefit from having an IT department to help keep the business running. Dedicated IT equipment and systems ensure that organizations are able to survive in a competitive economy, keep up with trendsm and help companies manage costs and time efficiently. Therefore, it’s crucial for businesses and industries to have adequate IT and support systems in their offices, factories, warehouses, and distribution facilities and use IT to their advantage, including for: 

  • Management and sales
  • Communications
  • Human resources
  • Accounting and finance
  • Operations and research
  • Data and systems security

Careers in IT

IT roles pay well and are in high demand across today’s jobs marketplace, with many professionals finding information technology appealing because of the various career paths available to pursue, including in:

  • IT leadership roles: chief information officer (CIO), chief information security officer (CISO)/chief security officer (CSO), chief technology officer (CTO), IT director, and IT manager. 
  • Architecture roles: cloud infrastructure architect, enterprise architect, IT systems architect, solutions architect, and technical architect. 
  • Network and system administration roles: computer systems manager, network architect, systems analyst, IT coordinator, network administrator, network engineer, and service desk analyst. 
  • Database administration roles: database administrator, database analyst, data quality manager, database report writer, and SQL database administrator.   
  • Business analyst and business intelligence roles: big data engineer/architect, business intelligence specialist/analyst, business systems analyst, data analyst, data analytics developer, data modeling analyst, and data scientist. 
  • Software development, DevOps, and cloud roles: back-end developer, cloud/software architect, cloud/software developer, cloud/software applications engineer, cloud system administrator, cloud system engineer, DevOps engineer, front-end developer, full-stack developer, Java developer, etc. 
  • Security roles: application security administrator, artificial intelligence security specialist, cloud security specialist, cybersecurity hardware engineer, cyber intelligence specialist, cryptographer, data privacy officer, digital forensics analyst, etc.  

How to Choose a Career in IT

It may seem overwhelming to explore the many jobs within the broad field of IT. There are simple steps to take, however, that can help you identify the right choice as you consider the role you’re best suited for. Some tips include: 

  • Considering your interests.  
  • Researching your chosen specialties.  
  • Shadowing an IT professional.  
  • Completing an internship. 

As technology evolves, businesses in every industry are constantly on the lookout for talented candidates to join their IT departments. Not only are these tech experts in high demand, but professionals in this field also enjoy benefits like work flexibility, high earning potential, work-life balance, obtaining new knowledge and skills, as well as opportunities for career growth and development.  

The Bottom Line

IT gives organizations the tools they need to solve complex problems and allows those organizations to make better decisions. Technology is advancing at a record pace, and IT is helping businesses keep up with innovation to thrive and grow. With tech dominating much of today’s world, it’s easy to understand why a career in IT can be so impactful. 

If you’re considering pursuing an exciting role in IT, WGU offers a bachelor’s degree in computer science to strengthen your skills and expand your knowledge. An online degree from WGU prepares you for a fast-paced career dealing with the design, development, and systems optimization that employers look for. With opportunities to earn multiple industry-recognized certifications and enroll in IT programs that match your goals, WGU might just be the right choice to discover your full potential. 

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