With the prominence and advancement of technology, it has inevitably become a large part of any functioning company's operations. It is virtually impossible for a business to thrive without interacting with some technology during day-to-day operations. From global corporations with complex systems and networks to small businesses that may only have a single computer and cash register, technology is always present.
Information technology (IT) describes the use of technology to solve business and organizational problems. Computers are used to store, recover, transmit, process and secure all forms of electronic data and information. The following are five IT functions in an organization.
Long before computers and information technology, communication was a vital part of any business. IT, however, has redefined the way we communicate with each other. Seemingly everyone has a smartphone nowadays, and it is possible to contact anyone around the world within a few clicks. Not only is this convenient for communication between employees of the same company, but it also opens the communication lines between companies - making for more efficient partnerships and collaborations.
IT allows an organization to communicate by multiple means, including phone, email, video conferencing and social media. Phone and email were the two primary means of communicating in the early days of IT, but the introduction of video conferencing has led to an increase of virtual meetings that allow employees to save time and companies to save money on in-person meetings.
The rise of social media has changed how companies communicate with their customers. Companies can use social media for advertising or customer service, as they are able to talk to customers in a way that makes them feel more connected with the brand.
Data has become one of the most valuable resources a company can have. Many companies - Facebook and Google, for example - have built their business models around collecting users' data and using it to sell advertisements.
Even if a company is not a technology company, it still needs data such as sales data, financial records, inventory information and customer records. IT systems allow an organization to collect, store, manage and utilize data.
The days of storing information on paper in rows of filing cabinets are gone; databases store vast amounts of information for businesses. And with the introduction of cloud technology, this information can often be accessed at any time from anywhere.
IT tools allow organizations to take raw data and put it in a format that allows for analyzing.
Company IT departments should also be tasked with putting information security measures in place to keep the company's data secure and free from hackers. Not only can data leaks lead to fines and regulatory action, but they also put an organization's reputation at risk.
Consumers do not feel comfortable giving their data away to companies who cannot keep it secure. IT security measures prevent this from happening.
IT is being used to improve the way organizations interact with their customers. Specifically, customer relationship management systems - often referred to simply as CRM in the business world - track and organize every interaction a company has with its current and potential customers.
These systems keep track of where an individual may be in the sales pipeline and aggregates all information so the company can provide a better user experience. Without IT, this process would not be nearly as effective.
One of the most valuable functions of IT in an organization is improving the efficiency of operational processes. IT systems are put in place to eliminate wasteful and useless activities that can be done better through the use of technology. For example, companies can now onboard and train new employees through online training sessions and modules - saving the company time and money.
Implementing IT allows organizations to automate processes and take over otherwise costly activities like printing and mailing billing statements to customers.