For proof of just how cool IT is these days, all you need to do is take a look around you.
“People are glued to their phones, replying to email, playing mobile games, watching Netflix, ordering on Amazon, posting selfies on Instagram, sending messages on Slack,” says Mike Holandez, author of “Super Desk Superhero.” “What makes all this magic work? Information technology.”
On the business front, IT touches every department and plays a direct role in productivity, communication, security and privacy. Undoubtedly, IT is more influential and more pervasive than ever before. Here are six reasons why:
1. You can’t escape IT. And you don’t want to. Technology has integrated itself into so many aspects of our personal and business lives. “There was, and in some cases is, this lingering image of IT workers as offering only back-office support,” says Jeffery Lauria, vice president of technology for iCorps Technologies. But that’s quickly changing, he says. HR departments now rely on IT pros to keep employee information secure, and marketers are pulling in IT teams to make sure they’re compliant with communication and information-gathering rules.
2. The great equalizer. An explosion in cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) that’s cheaper and easier-to-use has, in many cases, eliminated the need for businesses to have their own in-house servers or software installations, Holandez says.
“That’s a huge benefit, especially for small businesses,” he says. “Need to send a marketing email? Just sign up for Mailchimp or Contact or Hubspot. Need to build a website or landing page? Try Wix or Squarespace and you can build your own professional-looking site within a day.”
3. Economic engine. “In this digital age, IT drives over 85% of businesses,” Lauria says. Meaning, IT isn’t just a support tool, it’s an economic one, too. More and more companies are using IT to align their business goals, Lauria says, and they’re saving and making money because of it.
4. Career cachet. If you say you work in tech, there’s a certain element of prestige attached. Maybe that’s all mixed up in the idea of tech employees as hoodie-wearing, ping-pong playing wunderkinds at a soon-to-be-unicorn startup. Clearly that’s not always true, but IT is an in-demand field. More than half of the companies who are hiring for tech roles in 2019 are hiring to increase headcount, not just fill existing roles.
5. First line of defense. One of a company’s most important assets is its information. With cyber attacks on the upswing (the financial fallout from cybercrime is expected to hit $6 trillion a year by 2021) companies rely on IT pros to protect their data.
6. The best words. Donald Trump once said “I have the best words.” Well, so does IT. “Internet of things.” “Machine learning.” “Quantum computing.” Not only does IT have some of the best concept names, but the technology behind them is pretty fascinating.
- Blockchain technology. It’s not just about cryptocurrency anymore. Blockchain technology has major potential for data security, Lauria says, especially in finance.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Every time a website’s chatbot pops up to ask if you need help or Netflix recommends a movie, that’s AI and machine learning at work. “The biggest movement is in cybersecurity,” Lauria says. “AI is evaluating and addressing security threats in minutes versus days.”
- Augmented reality. Take a real-world environment, enhance it with computer-generated information, and then turn it into an interactive experience. Augmented reality is being used for everything from job training to project planning, Lauria says. Construction companies, for example, can offer a virtual walkthrough of a building instead of just a 3-D model.
The clearest sign of IT’s coolness? 77% of us now walk around with high-powered computers small enough to fit in our pockets. That’s pretty cool, huh?
Jennifer Thomas is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about business, finance, health and lifestyles.