Information technology is a well-known term in widespread usage: indeed, owing to the current dependence on computers, computer networks, and telecommunication devices, most people who are involved in enterprises – as most financial management books for sale will tell you – or educational settings are well aware that these devices are critical for the proper functioning of their organisation.
A broad description of Information Technology would include a reference to all devices and technologies used in the storage, retrieval, processing and communication of information. Whereas computers and networks are the technologies most people associate with the term, “IT”, the phrase also applies to all media involved in communication (television, radio, the printing press, etc.).
Being such an enormously broad field of influence and drawing on so many differing disciplines, several industries contribute to a well-functioning information environment, including: computer hardware, software, electronics, semiconductors, Internet servers and telecommunication transmitters/receivers/infrastructure.
In an attempt to narrow the vast array of elements associated with IT, the ITAA (Information Technology Association of America) has defined IT as specifically referring to the use of computer based information processing and communication.
The advantage in narrowing the context of IT lies in the fact that individuals may specialise in the industry of supporting the computer-related infrastructures that organisations (and society as a whole) have come to rely so heavily upon.
IT specialists are therefore those individuals who have been trained and are competent in meeting the computer-related needs of businesses, the government, education organisations, healthcare facilities and media channels.
Simply put, IT industry employees are tasked with: selecting the hardware and software required by an organisation’s needs (as properly assessed by an IT specialist); integrating the latter technologies within the organisation; and installing, customising and maintaining the various components of software and hardware thus allowing computer end-users to fulfil tasks as needed.
Typically, examples of the latter responsibilities include the installation of networks, network administration and security, the design and coding of html files (and webpages), the improvement of media channels, monitoring the functioning of the email system/s, and managing the lifecycles of both hardware and software technologies (that is, retiring and upgrading systems as is needed and where possible).
Owing to the still expanding demand for individuals technically skilled in the fields of computer hardware development, software development, network management and information technology administration, those interested in becoming professional IT specialists should be aware that employment opportunities remain abundant.
Tertiary training in the field is normally a requirement, but it is not essential if the respective individual is knowledgeable and capable. All of which is to say that if you have a passion for the IT industry (or one of its sub-disciplines), then a career is not only viable, but certainly realistically obtainable.
In South Africa, there is a plethora of tertiary institutions offering courses in Information Technology, so do some research on the net and find one that best suits you!