Information technology, also known as IT, is a comprehensive term that includes all types of technology used to exchange, store, use or create information. Commonly used information technology equipment includes computers, servers, peripheral devices, Internet connectivity equipment and phone systems. From basic computer terminals to IP-based telephony systems, information technology is an integral part of most modern business operations.
Rapid communications can help increase productivity, allow for better business decision-making and ease a company’s expansion into new territories or countries. Email servers, routers, internal company billboards and chat services can serve as the backbone of a company’s communications. These electronically based communication systems are used to disseminate routine and critical business information in a quick and efficient manner. IT equipment can be used to send business status reports to executives, to update employees on critical business projects and to connect with business partners and customers.
Streamlined work flow systems, shared storage and collaborative work spaces can increase efficiency in a business and allow employees to process a greater level of work in a shorter period of time. Information technology systems can be used to automate routine tasks, to make data analysis easier and to store data in a manner that can easily be retrieved for future use. Technology can also be used to answer customer questions through email, in a real-time chat session or through a telephone routing system that connects a customer to an available customer service agent.
Adoption of information technology resources allows companies to maintain a competitive advantage over their rivals. Companies using the first-movers strategy can use information technology to create new products, distance their products from the existing market or enhance their customer services. Companies that follow a low-cost product strategy can look to information technology solutions to reduce their costs through increased productivity and reduced need for employee overhead. Businesses can also build-in information technology to their products that makes it difficult for customers to switch platforms or products.
Companies can harness information technology resources to lower their costs. Using IT infrastructure, redundant tasks can be centralized at one location. For example, a large company could centralize their payroll function at one location to lower employee costs. Economic efficiencies can also be realized by migrating high-cost functions into an online environment. Companies can offer email support for customers that may have a lower cost than a live customer support call. Cost savings could also be found through outsourcing opportunities, remote work options, and lower-cost communication options.