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Introduction

Information technology, IT, is defined as the technology that is used to acquire, store, process and organize data to 'useful information' which can now be used to process data and in specific applications. This essay will examine the definition of the term Information Technology, the history of IT its importance, advantages and disadvantages that have resulted due to use of IT technologies.

Definition

According to the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), information technology is defined as the study, design, development, implementation and the management of computer based information systems. This entails the study of computer software applications as well as computer hardware.  With the advent of electronic computers, information technology is used covert, store, process, retrieve, protect, and transmit information to various sources. From obscurity, information technology has become an everyday term that has encompassed computing and technology. Therefore IT is a wide term and it involves use in many areas. IT professionals perform a wide range of tasks like installation of computer applications, designing and maintaining complex networks and computer databases.

The term IT therefore include the activities that include data management, networking, engineering computer hardware, database design, software design and its management and administration. IT thus includes the use of computers as well its association with information.  

History of IT

Information technology has been around for some time now as it has been used in communication since time memorial. There are four main ages for IT but it is the latest, electronic age that has had a big impact in us. IT has evolved over time to become a common term to most people as it affect like everybody in the world.

Importance and Uses of IT

Information technology is related to studying, designing and developing the information related to computers. The IT industry has grown rapidly over the last few years mainly because of its importance and according to experts in the industry the growth is expected to remain stable. IT is quiet important in very many sectors especially in business and education.

The importance of IT in business can be said to be revolutionary. Many businesses need software packages to satisfying their operational and functional needs. IT is essential for ensuring that a smooth running of businesses and all its departments. The specific importance of IT in business includes:

  • IT plays a major role in management and up-keep of vast amounts of information. This helps in creating and also aiding in information exchange. Due to this, business partners can work from any part of the world as if they were in the same room.
  • In medicine, IT has played and continues to pay an important role in various diagnostic procedures of different disease. With increasing innovation, nowadays there are computer aided surgeries as well.
  • IT has immensely contributed to various security systems for homes and companies. Complex security systems are also used in military bases and government agencies.
  • In science and engineering, IT plays a vital role in collecting and exchange of demographic data, weather patterns, behavioral science.
  • Through the World Wide Web (WWW) better known as the internet, is one of the most important means of connoting the world and thus has resulted to the "global village" making the world a much smaller place.
  • In the entertainment industry, IT has been used in special effects, graphical additions and such innovative multi-media applications that are used in movie making.
  • Through Global positioning System (GPS), IT is catching to more and more people nowadays. People are using the GPS technology to track out travel routes, recover stolen items like cars and mobile phones.
  • With a help of IT, public databases and secret identification of people is now maintained. Through this, criminals can be easily tracked by electronic gadgets that they may have been using.
  • In the educational sector, IT helps both the teachers and students to study course materials due to fast access. With the help of online libraries, has made knowledge grasping and learning easier. (Importance of information technology).

Advantages of IT

The world today has changed greatly with the advent of IT. Computerization has made manual work easy that by a single click, tasks get completed. The IT significance is seen from the fact that it has penetrated almost every aspect of our life; from business, leisure, work place and even society. IT helps us to streamline business processes and get constant real tie information that is up-to-date. Today personal computers, cell phones, fax machines, pagers, email and the internet have just but become an integral part of today's' lives as they play an important and essential role in our lives.

Some advantages of IT include in;

Globalization: globalization has brought the world together and enabled the word's economy to become a single interdependent system. Therefore information is now easily and efficiently shared. Also, geographical and language barriers have been bridged. The world is now termed as a "global village" allowing countries that have both language and boundary barriers to share important ideas and information.      

Communication: through IT, communication has become not only quicker and cheaper but also more efficient. It is now so easy and cheaper to communicate to anyone around the world by texting, emailing, talking over the internet and getting instant reply. Through the internet and such ideas as video conferencing, people are able to have face to face communication from different parts of the world.

Cost effective: IT has computerized business processes and thus streamlined businesses to make them cost effective money making machines. This it turn gives rise to profits through increased productivity translating to better salaries and less strenuous working conditions.

Bridging the cultural gap: IT has enabled people from different cultural to communicate with one another. This has resulted to exchange of ideas and overall awareness of cultural diversity implying reduced prejudice against other cultures.

Creation of new jobs: this is one of the best advantages of IT, creating new jobs. We have different categories of people who are directly employed as IT experts. They include; computer programmers, hardware and software programmers, hardware and software developers, web designers, system analyzers and many more who are involved in the IT business. (Some advantages and disadvantages of information technology).

Disadvantages of IT

The advent of IT has also its own disadvantages. These include:

Unemployment: although IT has streamlined business processes, IT has resulted to downsizing and outsourcing meaning that a lot jobs have been cut and some have been done away with causing unemployment. Privacy: although IT has made communication easier, privacy of information has been compromised. Cell phone signals can be tapped, emails can be hacked making people worry about their once private life becoming a public knowledge. Lack of job security: experts in the IT field believe that job security in IT is a big issue as technology keeps on changing every now and then. Therefore people employed in the IT industry have to keep on constant learning mode if they want to have their jobs secured. Dominant culture: yes, IT has made the world a global village but this has contributed to one culture dominating over the others especially the weaker ones. An example is the argument on how the US influences teenagers around the world on how to dress and behave. Some languages also may be come overshadowed while making others superior. For example English has become like the mode of communication in the IT world at the expense of other well established languages which are rarely used. (Some advantages and disadvantages of information technology).

Future of IT

There are strong signs that the IT industry will continue to grow across several industries as it is an essential component which ensures that that businesses run effectively. It is now hard to imagine a future without IT and the internet in general. Although not a reality now, but it seems that whatever humans think can be done. The future of IT seems that will be integrating human minds and technology. Technological advances will be made in computing with non-computer based populace in the world. Sidney Harris, a famous US journalist sees this in advance that he once said, "The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers."   

Coupled to the above, there are a number of emerging trends that have significantly combined the way society integrates. There is still unceasing demand for IT enabled innovations in the market and technology intensive products and services across all the sectors. Some of these future trends are in;

  • Off shoring- off shoring is expected to increase and through IT, such low cost nations will gain a greater proportion of the IT market. Through IT, china has managed to become the biggest exporter of IT market
  • IT is expected to shove up technology. This is expected to be done by digital natives. Creation of new technologies will most definitely shape the future of IT products and skills.

Social factors: there is a great desire for 'green IT' and this will major in debates about energy in the 21st century. Other social factors that will influence the future of IT will be the rise of social computing. The demand for employees to have higher IT skills will also be on the rise. Employers will want to remain competitive and seek an advantage through IT. Demands for IT professionals will remain competitive as a result, in the global environment. (Information technology: future trends).

Conclusion

The essay has dealt with IT in general. From its definition, its importance, advantages, disadvantages and the future trends of IT. Although such an important aspect of our lives, people should tread carefully as IT can also lead to professionals losing their jobs. The future of IT though looks bright for as it has formed an integral part of lives.

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