IT, or information technology, and IS, or information systems, are different yet poorly understood. IT requires hands on computer experience alongside both people and management skills to successfully plan and manage a company’s hardware and software products and to ensure their usability for employees who work in separate fields. IS concerns itself with the bigger picture, analyzing the information needs of schools, businesses and government agencies.
The phrase “information technology” would seem to share two meanings. To the general population, IT encompasses all computing. However, as a degree, its definition is closer to the preparation of students to meet the technological needs of organizations.
IT professionals are responsible for selecting reliable hardware and reputable management software which an organization requires, and organizing these purchases within the existing infra-structure. They must install, customize and maintain these systems, requiring knowledge and experience in writing code (or programming). IT professionals are considered to have taken on a complex job which requires not only technical skills, but also people skills, as they will most likely be working with and adapting to other employees who possess limited technical skills.
Positions IT professionals most often find themselves occupying are network administration and computer support jobs. Most likely you will see those who work in IT any time a piece of technology malfunctions or breaks in the workplace. They were also the ones likely to have selected and installed the device in the first place.
In much the same way which organizations used to hire people to manage resources such as labor, materials and money, IS professionals are hired to manage information. This position is linked to the undergraduate major; information systems management. This major provides a potential IS professional an education which fuses technology and business management. They must understand operations, objectives and organizational structures in business as well as possess a foundation of technical knowledge.
Serving as a middle man or translator between an organization’s technical and management communities, an IS professional must ask questions such as: What information is needed? Is the business’ structure designed for distributing the needed information? And, is the technology being used to its full potential?
Most often hired as project managers and system analysts, IS professionals tend to have a bird’s eye view of an organization’s information system and are charged with maintaining or fixing it.
Similarities and Differences in Duties
Overlap does exist between the two disciplines. Frequently, those with an IT degree are hired for IS tasks. Both IS and IT professionals must be experienced communicators with technological knowledge, and they are both in charge of selecting and maintaining technologies within an organization.
Ultimately, however, an IS professional tends to have more influence at a higher level. They design the information systems used, conveying the business needs of an organization into technological solutions. Whereas, IT professionals are those in charge of implementing these systems in an optimal and efficient manner and training employees in their use.
So whether you are a student looking at potential employment opportunities or a business owner looking for information as to what manner of degree a potential employee will require a particular job, you must understand the differences between the two roles and educations.