What is IT management?

IT management refers to the monitoring and administration of an organization’s information technology systems: hardware, software and networks. IT management focuses on how to make information systems operate efficiently. Just as important, it’s about helping people work better.

Increasing numbers of organizations are putting IT at the center of their strategies. In the digital world, IT departments are tasked to do more than ever and are becoming a fulcrum for reinvention.

“The digital workplace merges work and life – a virtual space with applications, services and information on demand,” says Forbes Insights. “For users, this means access to the technology they need, when they need it, on whichever device they prefer to use.”

IT management essentials

An IT environment consists of a multitude of hardware, network and software components including computers, servers, routers, applications, microservices and mobile technologies. An IT infrastructure can be on premises, in the cloud or on a hybrid platform that integrates both.

IT managers monitor and govern IT systems to ensure they’re always available and function reliably. IT management responsibilities and tasks include:

  • Determining business requirements for IT systems
  • Managing IT budgets and costs
  • Monitoring safety and compliance
  • Controlling system and network security 
  • Implementing new software, hardware and data systems
  • Providing technical or help desk support

IT departments are usually headed by Chief Information Officers (CIOs). They determine IT strategies and goals for the business and ensure they’re implemented.

Many CIOs believe their roles will evolve in the next two to three years. They expect to shift from maintenance and management to higher-value, strategic activities. A key responsibility will be to “implement meaningful digital change through the creation of new tools, solutions and business models.”

Why IT management is important

IT underpins almost all enterprise activity. Automation, data processing and always-on connectivity have opened the door to previously unimagined capabilities and efficiencies. It may be impossible to separate technology from daily business operations.

At the same time, an organization is vulnerable when systems underperform or fail. A down network, lost data or malware can severely impact day to day operations. The average cost of a data breach in the US, for example, is $3.86 million. (1)

IT management practices ensure that information technologies are secure, highly available and perform at their peak.

CIOs also take a lead role in adopting new systems to improve operations. Suggests an IT executive: “Emerging technologies, such as machine learning, analytics, chatbots and blockchain, can completely revolutionize our way of offering services.”

“IT is on the precipice of unprecedented change,” says CIO magazine. “Every company, now in the business of technology, is experiencing glimmers of larger shifts to come: automation, decentralized technology budgets, rapid adoption of cloud-based services, and most recently, artificial intelligence as a business necessity.” (2)

CIOs may need to do more than invest in the latest service or system. Digital transformation requires innovation and strategic enablement. “For us, the CIO’s role is no longer the old back-office technology manager. There’s no boardroom conversation that happens without the CIO involved,” notes one IT executive.

"I think CIOs have to become more business savvy,” notes another. “We have to be integrated and ingrained in the business, so we know how to use technology to resolve business challenges and make things forward-looking from an industry perspective.”

Key features of effective IT management

Overseeing current IT projects and operations will always be part of an IT management mandate. But today's CIOs will need to use technology in new, innovative ways to help the business keep pace with rapid change.

IT management software and tools can help. Data and analytics, as well as cloud, are some of the areas CIOs have pursued. At the same time, they’re looking at artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and more to prepare for the future.

Analytics

An analytics solution can mine terabytes of operational data quickly to find the root cause of service impacts. It helps identify potential bottlenecks, predict outages and drive greater efficiency. Organizations gain insights into data or processing issues, negative IT trends and anomalies – making it easier to take steps to avoid system chaos.

Beyond in-house optics, analytics provide insights to help enterprises better understand their customers – which in turn can drive business strategy.

Cloud computing

Cloud services offer scalability, data security, data recovery services and more. Using the cloud can improve efficiencies and reduce infrastructure costs. It can benefit all aspects of the business, from operations to finance, and help position the organization for transformative cloud-based solutions in future.

Many enterprises host core business applications on mainframes, which process millions of transactions each day. Cloud enablement helps IT departments modernize their mainframe systems – while freeing up CIOs to focus on other priorities. Organizations benefit from higher levels of productivity and performance with less overhead.

AI and cognitive computing

AI systems analyze data, learn and predict problems to help IT managers deliver better service quality. As well, AI-based chatbots can function as virtual agents, talking with users to resolve technical issues. Customers can also use them to learn about products and services. Moving ahead, cognitive computing may become vital to helping enterprises manage IT and accelerate innovation.

IoT

IoT platforms collect and analyze data from devices and sensors, helping to proactively resolve issues and improve productivity. IT managers can quickly derive insights into what the organization is doing right – and what it could be doing better.

Cognitive learning further enables business to unlock IoT value. For one, it could combine multiple data streams to identify patterns and provide more context than would otherwise be available. Intelligent sensors too have the potential to self-diagnose and adapt to their environment without the need for human intervention.

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