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What Is IT? Information Technology

The field of information technology (IT for short) is often associated with the computer systems, hardware, software, and networks related to the processing and distribution of data. These include networking hardware, such as servers and routers, and applications that allow communication over a variety of networks and the Internet at large.

What types of information technology are there?

The first "modern" use of the term "information technology" was in a 1958 Harvard Business Review article defining IT as technology that falls into one of three categories:

  • Techniques for processing
  • The application of statistical and mathematical methods to decision making
  • The simulation of higher-order thinking through computer programs

What is information technology in simple terms?

Current definitions refine the scope to the computer systems, hardware, software, and networks related to the processing and distribution of data.


What is an IT department?

Organizational units that handle computer systems, hardware, software, and networks related to the processing and distribution of data are often called IT departments. Some organizations refer to their IT departments as IS (information systems) or MIS (management information systems).


What do IT technicians do?

Over the decades, IT technicians' primary focus has been on designing, installing, managing, and troubleshooting computers and networking components. In recent years, the scope of IT has been shifting to more than just computers, switches, routers, and access points.

Today, a myriad of connected user devices and a growing and diverse collection of connected IoT devices--such as LED lighting, cameras, door locks, thermostats, machine monitoring controls, TVs, and even air conditioners--come under the purview of IT.

Cybersecurity specialists play a key role in securing information systems. They work to protect the integrity of organizations' networks and data.


How do I become an IT technician?

You can take Cisco Networking Academy IT courses in person at a local educational institution, as most Networking Academy students do. This is the ultimate way to get hands-on experience while gaining career-ready skills. Search for a location near you, and reach out to Cisco Networking Academy directly.

Cisco training and certification programs provide additional learning paths for people interested in IT careers. Among the options are certification paths that cover a breadth of topics, including:

  • Network architect
  • Routing and switching
  • Data center
  • Cybersecurity operations
  • Security technology