The question posed in the title of this article seems very simple to answer, and even in their own words many of the people reading this might describe what they think is IT. And the fact is that their definition is likely to be very correct, although perhaps incomplete.
The often used IT acronym comes from the words Information Technology. When most people think of Information Technology, focuses more on "Technology" and less on "Information" which is, to me, even more important. By (simple) definition "Technology" is a tool for a purpose, therefore we are left to ask ourselves what is that purpose and not to lose focus on it. And that purpose is about the information itself; the gathering, processing, transmission, storage and, in some cases, interpretation of that information in order to make better decisions.
Talking about Information lead us to related concepts as "data" or "knowledge." And this brings us to a conceptual model that shows the relationship between them called the Hierarchy of Knowledge or "Pyramid DIKW" (Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom). This pyramid displays the transformation from Data to Wisdom.
"Data" are symbols, signs, signals, etc.. we capture from the environment. "Information" is the useful meaning of those symbols. "Knowledge" is that information organized, related and contextualized. And finally the "Wisdom" includes the value judgment, which currently requires the human component. All of this allows us to conclude that information technology works primarily with the lower 3 layers of the pyramid. Which were conquered over time.
Evolution of the "human" resource
If we do a superficial analysis, we can see that throughout history humans as a resource for work evolved in purpose and the type of result that is expected of him. Centuries ago people performed tasks that today we only think of as automated by machines. Yet society has found new jobs making the usefulness of the "human" resource change over the years. They have freed the man from the assignments machines could do without intellectual capacity, and he has been assigned tasks that require the power of the mind and reasoning. And the raw material of these tasks is none other than the information itself.
All this led us through the "Information Age" and get into the "Knowledge Economy" which focus is on creating value through the transformation of information and knowledge. This shows us the importance of information as a resource in the world today, able to add value to the processes and people.
Value added in Organizations
Organizations and Businesses, as fundamental parts of the society in which we live, are not outside of the importance of information and the use of it. It became commonplace and an essential component that not only represents value, but is capable of generating it. It is no coincidence that big companies invest large sums of money on improving their processes with IT projects. Because, as we discussed above, this is what a project in IT is about (or should be): improve processes.
Throughout history companies focused their efforts on automating tasks and processes to later, at present, concentrate on generating added value from the processes and information that they generate. This allows them to project, know the reality and take strategic level decisions in order to adapt and become more competitive. These days it is vital for organizations to be able to take such decisions in a timely manner based on quality information obtained at the right time. This makes clear the impact of IT in the globalized world.
There is no doubt of the importance of information in our lives today. We could not conceive our occupations in the modern world if we did not have the information we have, at the speed and manner in which we consume it.
In my opinion, and based on my experience, I think the success of an IT project is directly conditioned on the importance that is given to Information and the affected process, over the technology used. Keeping in mind that both are important.
Therefore it is vital to give importance to the "I" in IT and understand that when it comes to Information Technology is not enough to be skilled in handling the tool but you need to understand the purpose of it. Understand which process is to be improved, which public will perceive an added value for the solution, and not lose focus on the true goal.