What is Information Technology?

The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) (n.d.) defines information technology as “the study, design, development, implementation, support or management of computer-based information systems, particularly software applications and computer hardware”.

This influential association could be expected to provide one of the most complete definitions of information technology (IT) and while their definition is vague enough to encompass a great deal it does not, for instance, take into account the roles played by ancillary yet crucial aspects of an IT system; people. Badawy’s definition certainly implies that IT “corporate resources” are not necessarily limited to hardware and software so in this respect forms a more complete definition.

In fact, Badawy expands his definition “…in designing and developing products and services for maximum customer satisfaction, corporate productivity, profitability and competitiveness” which provides a different viewpoint when taken with the original quote as here we see the inclusion of the very essence of what an effective IT system can achieve, which provides the reader with a much greater range of understanding the definition. Here Badawy implies that IT encompasses the whole organisation and given my experience I am inclined to agree. Increasing positive business measurement figures with IT is not just about hardware and software; people, process and performance factor heavily in success.

From a business perspective Entrepreneur Magazine (n.d.) defines IT as “A term that encompasses all forms of technology used to create, store, exchange and utilize information in its various forms including business data, conversations, still images, motion pictures and multimedia presentations.”, which is quite a different take from Badawy, again due to the objectives of the writer and their target audience.

Information Technology (IT) can be defined in many ways and any given definition is more than likely a result of the agenda and objectives of the definition writer. Having worked with all sizes of business with local operations and target markets and large international disparate corporations, in my experience the assumptions made by business leaders of what is included in the definition are often fundamentally different.

It is a much maligned and overused term which, today, cannot be clearly defined so as to apply to all. Therefore Badawy’s definition is one that could only be agreed upon in specific circumstances and could not be considered to be complete unless the definition suits the particular purposes of the audience.

References

Badawy, K (1998), Technology Management Education: Alternative Models. California Management Review. 40 (4), pp. 94–115.

Entrepreneur (n.d.). Term definition: Information Technology [Online]. Available from: http://www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/term/82268.html (Accessed: 12 October 2009).

Information Technology Association of America (n.d.). Information Technology Definition Aggregation [Online]. Available from: http://www.itaa.org/es/docs/InformationTechnologyDefinitions.pdf (Accessed: 12 October 2009).