information technology

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information technology

[‚in·fər′mā·shən tek¦näl·ə·jē]
(computer science)
The collection of technologies that deal specifically with processing, storing, and communicating information, including all types of computer and communications systems as well as reprographics methodologies.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

information technology (IT)

a general term applied to all computer-based technologies of human communication. It can be viewed as a broad sub-type of NEW TECHNOLOGY. Office automation is the most widely implemented form of information technology and has had major implications for the organization and experience of clerical work. This development has stimulated much sociological research and commentary on the issues of DESKILLING and PROLETARIANIZATION as well as the feminization of clerical work (Crompton and Jones, 1984; Webster, 1996). Information technology underpins the flow of information (i.e. information systems) within and between organizations and societies giving rise to increasing dependency on global networks including the Internet (CASTELLS, 1996). The increasing reliance on computer-based information systems has also given rise to concerns over the electronic power of the state (Lyons, 1988) and the possibility that information technology turns work organizations into the new panopticans in which everyone is under continual surveillance and control, an interpretation that draws directly on the work of FOUCAULT.

Information technology can be said to have begun in 1943, with the building of the Colossus computing machine in the UK in order to break the German Enigma code. By the late 1950s computers had been introduced into the major British banks, and were being used within accounts departments a little later (Mumford and Banks, 1967). At this point, the technology was limited to routine activities, involving the computation of data rather than the communication of information. However, with the development of more powerful interactive (i.e. ‘real time’ computer systems), and of smaller computers (minis and micros) coupled with ‘off the shelf programs (generally known as ‘software packages’), information technology has spread throughout industry, and has now extended into people's homes and leisure activity. The main development in information technology in recent years has been the digital integration of information and telecommunications technologies, such as fax machines and electronic mail and currently between cell phones and ‘palm top’ computers. The divide between information and communication technologies has now been virtually eroded; they are now common technologies of communication.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000

Information technology

The field of engineering involving computer-based hardware and software systems, and communication systems, to enable the acquisition, representation, storage, transmission, and use of information. Successful implementation of information technology (IT) is dependent upon being able to cope with the overall architecture of systems, their interfaces with humans and organizations, and their relationships with external environments. It is also critically dependent on the ability to successfully convert information into knowledge.

Information technology is concerned with improvements in a variety of human and organizational problem-solving endeavors through the design, development, and use of technologically based systems and processes that enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of information in a variety of strategic, tactical, and operational situations. Ideally, this is accomplished through critical attention to the information needs of humans in problem-solving tasks and in the provision of technological aids, including electronic communication and computer-based systems of hardware and software and associated processes. Information technology complements and enhances traditional engineering through emphasis on the information basis for engineering.

The knowledge and skills required in information technology come from the applied engineering sciences, especially information, computer, and systems engineering sciences, and from professional practice. Professional activities in information technology and in the acquisition of information technology systems range from requirements definition or specification, to conceptual and functional design and development of communication and computer-based systems for information support. They are concerned with such topics as architectural definition and evaluation. These activities include integration of new systems into functionally operational existing systems and maintenance of the result as user needs change over time. This human interaction with systems and processes, and the associated information processing activities, may take several diverse forms. See Reengineering, Systems architecture, Systems engineering

The hardware and software of computing and communications form the basic tools for information technology. These are implemented as information technology systems through use of systems engineering processes. While information technology and information systems engineering does indeed enable better designs of systems and existing organizations, it also enables the design of fundamentally new organizations and systems such as virtual corporations. Thus, efforts in this area include not only interactivity in working with clients to satisfy present needs but also awareness of future technological, organizational, and human concerns so as to support transition over time to new information technology-based services.

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Engineering. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

information technology

(business, jargon)
(IT) Applied computer systems - both hardware and software, and often including networking and telecommunications, usually in the context of a business or other enterprise. Often the name of the part of an enterprise that deals with all things electronic.

The term "computer science" is usually reserved for the more theoretical, academic aspects of computing, while the vaguer terms "information systems" (IS) or "information services" may include more of the human activities and non-computerised business processes like knowledge management. Others say that IT includes computer science.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


(Information Technology) Processing information by computer. IT is the latest moniker for the industry as a whole, and the term became popular in the 1990s. It actually took 40 years before the industry settled on what to call itself. First it was "electronic data processing" (EDP), followed by "management information systems" (MIS) and "information systems" (IS) and finally "information technology" (IT).

IT Versus OT
Contrast information technology with "operations technology" (OT), which uses computers to control machines in manufacturing and other industrial applications. IT handles the business information derived from the products made by OT. IT and OT systems may be highly integrated or have minimal or no integration. See Internet of Things, process control and PLC.

Networking and Often Voice
IT includes networking but may exclude telephone service. Increasingly however, voice is based on the same IP networks as the company's computers, and telecom has become part of the IT world rather than an entirely separate department. See information system and enterprise networking.
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