We are in the 21st century and everything revolves around technology. Technology has unlocked a world of endless possibilities – from baby monitors to cell phones, supercomputers to guided missiles, face timing with your friends and family at the other end of the globe to standing on the moon. Many individuals eagerly await the cutting-edge advances in the field of information technology (IT) and the demand for people with a comprehensive understanding of information technology management has increased exponentially. Thus, having an IT degree under your belt will shift your thinking towards creative solutions that influence and transform daily life – this is just the tip of the iceberg. An Information technology degree will enable you to assess your reasoning, logical and deductive skills and expand your career opportunities – from a Web Developer to an IT Manager to a Chief Information Officer.
IT degrees comprise a variety of themes including software applications, hardware, programming, security, business applications, design, artificial intelligence, databases, medical records, and so much more. Did you know that IT professionals fall under the top ten highest paying jobs in South Africa Imagine solving a wide variety of issues through IT and attaining a substantial financial reward while doing it – that is truly the icing on the cake. Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg and Elon Musk did it – now it is your chance to shine.
What is Information Technology?
You may have heard the term “information technology”, popularly known by the acronym IT, at career seminars, on the television and even radio broadcasts. The term information technology (IT) was created by Jim Domsic of Michigan in November 1981. However, what exactly is information technology (IT)? Most individuals perceive information technology (IT) as anything to do with computers, but there is an exact definition. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, information technology (IT) can be defined as “the technology involving the development, maintenance, and use of computer systems, software, and networks for the processing and distribution of data”.
In the contemporary world, information technology management is used by various businesses on a global scale to ensure that business processes are efficient and the overall business operations run smoothly. Businesses generally use IT in three key ways:
- To maintain basic information processing tasks
- To assist with decision making
- To drive innovation
In the absence of information technology management, businesses simply come to a halt! Human resources (HR), sales, finance together with other departments rely heavily on IT to complete their daily tasks. Through email, faxes and telecommunication devices, companies create greater accessibility and profitability through real-time communications. Video conferencing minimises the need to travel to business meetings and documents can be enhanced timeously. IT can be utilised for:
- Technical design
- Building Websites for products and services
- Creating presentations
- Continued research and development
- Data analysis and strategic planning
To remain competitive in the global market, companies utilise Websites to provide ordering information and product lists, thus enabling monetary transactions with customers. Websites also enable companies to obtain constructive feedback about customer wants and ideas for improvement. Additionally, Information technology management, together with information services (IS) safeguards the confidentiality, availability and integrity of data in a business world engulfed by technological threats.
Who uses Information Technology?
Humans constantly rely on IT-enabled devices to perform simple tasks such as recalling a phone number to difficult ones such as flying a fighter plane. Information technology management has applications in all facets of our life. Here are a few of the vital industries who rely on IT:
Science and Engineering
By using supercomputers, meteorologists can predict future weather by using a grouping of observations of weather conditions from numerous sources, a mathematical representation of the behaviour of the atmosphere and geographical data.
Business and Commerce
A majority of multinational corporations retain the employment records of their employees in large databases that are managed by computer programs. Similar programs are used in business functions such as billing customers, tracking payments received, tracking supplies needed and items produced. Modern technologies such as mobile commerce (m-commerce) allow people to perform repetitive financial transactions on the move.
With more information becoming digitised on a daily basis and the ease of accessibility to this information via the Internet, students at various educational levels are increasingly dependent on electronic sources of information rather than physical libraries for their requirements. Instructional methodology has also experienced an adjustment with the use of images, animations, videos, presentations and e-learning to supplement traditional learning methods.
Computerisation of government undertakings allows simplicity in supervision and audits and enables administration to be more receptive to the necessities of society. It also bridges the gap between the government and the people. Touch-screen kiosks assist in distributing information about land records and identity cards. India is a world leader in the effective utilisation of IT for elections.
IT plays a crucial role in healthcare. For instance, a scanner takes a sequence of photos of the body by means of computerised axial tomography (CAT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A computer then combines the photos to create detailed three-dimensional images of the body’s organs. Additionally, the MRI creates images that display fluctuations in body chemistry and blood flow. The majority of critical life support equipment is programmed to react to variations in the patient’s condition in split seconds, thereby minimising the reaction time and threat of human error.
IT has adjusted the lifestyle of most individuals. The merging of different technologies has produced many choices for entertainment such as games, streaming music and video, digital television broadcasts satellite radio, animated movies and so much more.
If you are searching for a former school friend, there is no simpler or quicker method than social media. Although Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest are some of the most popular social networking communities, new Websites are popping up on a regular basis to enable people to connect and interact over the Web. These sites can also be used to build lifelong business relationships.
IT plays a vital role in the agricultural sector. Farmers require information about recent varieties, changing weather patterns, crop production methods and enhanced agronomic practices for them to produce. Through IT, farmers in Africa are able to read what farmers in other areas of the globe are doing. This knowledge allows farmers to enhance their farming skills which ultimately results in considerable profits. Information technology has also been utilised in automated farm machines which are programmed to perform activities such as irrigation or spraying without the presence of the farmer, thereby making service delivery quite efficient.
What are the Different Types of Information Technology Management?
IT systems play a crucial role in managing daily operations within the modern business environment. A business requires the following six essential IT services in order to be successful:
IT hardware systems are a vital component within each business. However, a hardware failure or damage could have a negative effect on their income and ability to timeously meet the needs of a demanding market. This is where IT hardware services become extremely useful. These services assist businesses in securing their computers and additional hardware assets.
This focuses on software asset management (SAM). Under SAM, businesses ensure that their software licenses are current and in accordance with end-user contracts. Additionally, the SAM service provider will attempt to minimise software expenses by locating unused and redundant licenses. For instance, rather than purchasing a new license for a new worker, the SAM service provider will search for existing unused licenses.
3) Network Infrastructure
The network infrastructure within a business would usually consist of Internet connectivity and internal networking among computers and other devices such as printers. In the case of networks, the IT service provider’s key objective is to protect the network from a wide range of internal and external threats. It normally does this by installing and managing firewalls which deter the entrance of viruses such as worms and other malicious traffic into the business. The firewall will also monitor the network to spot and respond timeously to irregular traffic and attacks. The IT service provider will also assist with network policies. These may encompass external login prevention into the system and multi-factor authentication (MFA).
4) Mobile Device Management
In the modern business environment, employees tend to bring their private phones to work and use those same phones for work-related tasks. However, some businesses do not develop a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy to protect their information and assets on these external devices. An IT service provider will assist in enforcing BYOD in a business via mobile device management (MDM). This will enable a business to implement security policies on employees’ phones. MDM ensures that only safe devices such as unrooted phones are able to access the data and applications within a business. In the case of misplaced or stolen devices, MDM will enable a business to remotely remove data from those devices, thereby ensuring the confidentiality of data.
5) Cloud Computing
An increasing number of businesses are dependent on the cloud to host their data. In most situations, the data includes private information about customers and additional assets. IT service providers assist businesses in managing their cloud services. Firstly, they will assist with the difficult task of setting up cloud-hosted applications and data as well as resolve inaccuracies and downtime. Secondly, they will protect the cloud systems from various threats. The idea behind managed IT services is that it allows a business and its employees to focus their efforts on essential duties and avoid becoming preoccupied with the daily maintenance of cloud assets.
Cybersecurity is a constantly evolving field and it relates to each of the IT services discussed above. IT service providers will ensure that their knowledge in this field is current and invest in the required technologies to protect themselves and their customers. IT service providers can also assist with the implementation of forthcoming IT projects. Their consultants will bring their proven know-how to the table and help with determining the future requirements of a business. Their assistance will ultimately result in procurement and maintenance cost savings.
What is an IT Job? Career Opportunities with Information Technology Management
Information technology management continually changes the way we live, play and conduct business, thus it should come as no shock that IT is the fastest evolving profession, and will remain so for decades to come. The IT profession is dominating other professions due to many factors such as the rapid advancement of the Internet and electronic commerce (e-commerce), decreased hardware costs enabling more companies to upgrade their technology, greater demand for information security prompted by the growing occurrences and complexity of cybercrimes, the arrival of smarter applications allowing businesses to analyse data for business intelligence, cloud computing transforming the way IT departments function, and the constant creation of mobile devices. This is fantastic news for skilled information technology professionals or those just starting an IT career path.
However, what exactly is an IT job? An IT job is the utilisation of computers, software, networks, servers and additional technology to manage and store data. Whether you are providing desktop maintenance to office staff or coding sites and programs using cutting-edge technology, there are a variety of career opportunities available to individuals who are eager to enter the IT field.
If you are one of those ambitious individuals, it is vital to obtain the relevant information technology degree or IT certifications and grasp the current IT career landscape in order to build a competitive advantage and accomplish your career goals.
The following 11 informational technology management careers are in-demand based on development potential, earning power, job outlook and excitement:
1) Database Administrator
Database administrators (DBA) ensure that business data is precise, available and protected. The company database is the heart of main business systems that drive finance, sales, manufacturing and more, thus database administrators are acknowledged and remunerated for serving a vital role in an organisation’s achievements. In addition to database administrators’ high-income potential, DBA positions provide the personal contentment of resolving business issues and viewing (in real-time) how your hard work benefits the business. A balance of technical, communication and business expertise are significant to a database administrator’s success and upward mobility.
2) Web Developer
Web developers construct the Webpages and Web-based applications that consist of the Internet. A basic Web development work-flow entails gathering or producing Web content such as images and videos, preparing Website layout and navigation, coding the actual Web Pages, then testing and optimising the Website for superior user experience and performance. Web development projects require regular modifications and improvements, thus Web developers should possess patience and strong communication skills to collaborate with team members and customers. Web developer jobs are present in most enterprises and government agencies as well as small to medium businesses.
3) Network Administrator
Network administrators install, manage and maintain the networks and information systems that allow information to flow consistently. They implement and support network hardware and software, troubleshoot network issues, and ensure network safety, availability and performance criteria. Most businesses regularly implement innovative networking and communications technologies to gain a competitive advantage, thus creating a demand for network administrators to install, protect and optimise the new systems. This continuous demand for network administrators, irrespective of economic circumstances, has led most employment specialists to label network administrators a “recession-proof career”.
4) Network Architect
Network architects design computer networks. Network architects should not be confused with network administrators who manage and maintain the network, or network engineers who construct and restore the network. Network architects are in control of the preparation and design of data and communication networks. The duties of each role will intersect in some organisations, particularly in start-up and small to medium businesses. However, many corporations and government agencies hire specialised professionals or teams of professionals in each position. Besides hard technical expertise, network architects should grasp the needs of a business in order to design an effective, safe and scalable network that supports the strategic goals of a business. With a comprehensive understanding of the business problems, the network architect can start to develop the network blueprint, cautiously considering aspects such as hardware, software and cable infrastructure that will be appropriate to the current project.
5) IT Security Specialist
In the modern age of rapidly rising threats and refined cyberwarfare, organisations require the utmost vigilance in order to prevent or eradicate malicious intrusions. IT security specialists have a comprehensive knowledge of cybersecurity threats, technologies and various security measures to protect computer systems. Their job often entails installing and configuring security software to deter malicious attacks, providing employees with sufficient security education and training, observing and securing against network breaches, and reacting to cyber-attacks with suitable countermeasures. The demand for IT security specialists is high across schools, corporations, medical practices and government agencies.
6) Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts are the “big picture” intellectuals in IT. They are equipped with business and technology knowledge, can analyse an organisation’s existing computer systems and processes, and suggest strategic modifications to grow productivity, minimise costs and achieve additional business objectives. Most systems analysts are expert developers who plan and code computer system updates independently or manage the development team in an active capacity, whereas other analysts who do not possess programming experience or training will communicate with software developers to implement alterations. The systems analyst’s main goal is to maximise the return on investment (ROI) of an organisation’s IT costs. Their most important duties include observing computer system performance, locating and purchasing new technologies based on cost-benefit analyses, planning and building new computer systems, and interacting with customers to optimise performance and troubleshoot issues post-implementation.
7) Computer Scientist
Computer scientists explore and develop innovative technologies. These sophisticated technologists are a powerful force behind the progression of contemporary computing. Computer scientists create new information systems and enhance current ones by integrating deep technical insight, inspiration and scientific research expertise. Computer scientists work in a range of businesses such as the federal government (particularly in the defence sector), hardware and software design companies, IT research companies and academia.
8) IT Manager
IT managers ensure that their teams or divisions function efficiently. These professionals work closely with senior directors and division managers to develop and support innovative technology initiatives. Additionally, IT managers create and ensure adherence to organisational IT policies, processes and best practices.
9) IT Project Manager
IT project managers supervise all-encompassing technology projects. They ensure that difficult technical projects, such as system upgrades and technology deployments, are concluded timeously, below budget and meet the required specifications. These professionals prepare and synchronise the hard work of the core project team, third party contractors and advisors in order to ensure successful completion of IT projects. IT project management expertise is in high demand since a growing number of businesses choose specialists and project-based techniques to ensure that the job is done correctly the first time.
10) Chief Information Officer
The chief information officer (CIO) is in charge of the company’s technical path and thus puts forward the technology objectives of the company. Thereafter, the CIO plans and directs the different aspects within the main IT projects such as expenditure, the workforce and purchasing of equipment. As technology evolves and becomes more significant to business success, demand is rising for forward-looking CIOs who can understand the company’s needs, and implement revolutionary IT solutions to fill them.
11) IT Entrepreneur
Technology continues to evolve at a rapid rate and the ability to be flexible during those changes, and assist others in the process, has all the elements of a very powerful business foundation. If you have a comprehensive understanding of computers and how they function, beginning a small business as a computer repair and maintenance service may be a great business idea for you. You can provide your services to one operating system or support all key platforms. You can also enhance your business revenue with sales of computer-related items such as new hard drives, monitors and mice. Additionally, many small businesses lack the budget to hire a permanent, internal technical maintenance team, making outsourced IT support a possible and profitable business idea. You can offer network data backup and recovery, setup and maintenance services, and software installation and management. Depending on your customers’ needs, your services can also comprise various security measures and mobile device management (MDM). There are also many opportunities to work across industries and countries. The introduction of smart cities, growth in mobile users, the role of artificial intelligence, cybercrimes and additional factors will play a key role in the growth of the IT industry.
Types of Information Technology Courses and Study Options at MANCOSA
Remaining relevant in a continually changing workforce is no simple task, and IT courses are presently among the most consistently growing areas of demand for employees. Adding IT courses to your educational qualification portfolio is an excellent way to begin or progress your career. Whether you are pursuing professional advancement, new skills, or a new career, IT courses can assist you in becoming a more competitive and valued employee.
The IT qualification options at MANCOSA (a leading distance educational provider) offer a concrete foundation to the domain of technology using industry-standard structure and curriculum. MANCOSA will not only instil the expertise you require to begin a career in information technology but also assist you to relate that expertise to the world of computers and networking. If you are considering registering for an IT qualification, look no further than the vast IT programmes at MANCOSA.
- The Higher Certificate in Information Technology is a one-year structured programme for individuals who aspire to work as IT support staff within public and private sector businesses.
- The Bachelor of Commerce in Information and Technology Management Degree exposes students to the design and development of systems and creates individuals who are capable of providing and managing business solutions.
- The Postgraduate Diploma in Information and Technology Management aims to imbue individuals with the skills of aligning business strategies with technology to effectively perform their responsibilities.
Study an Information Technology Programme with MANCOSA
IT courses provide a variety of career opportunities, from people specialising in programming, database management, networking and desktop support. IT enables an individual to work in absolutely any industry and country. Every career needs the use of computer technology, thus making IT experts some of the most sought-after professionals on a global scale. For individuals who currently have careers in particular specialisations, an information technology degree can be an excellent way to gain a comprehensive understanding of the technological aspects of the said career. A qualification in IT is extremely valued in most careers, particularly those with a commercial or creative building focus. Employees who complete an IT qualification can improve their performance and job prospects instantaneously. Begin your IT journey with MANCOSA (a leading distance educational provider) in order to fulfil your career aspirations.
Authors: Theresadevi Moodley and Joyfull Jalubane