Home Topics What is IT Management? What is IT management?
Explore IBM's IT management solution Subscribe to AI Topic Updates
Illustration showing the use IT management solutions to efficiently manage hardware, software and network services
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 enterprise guide to observability

Read our guide to get your business started on its journey with observability.

Related content

Read a guide to intelligent automation

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 that 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 is 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 might 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 USD 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 might 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 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 AI, Internet of Things (IoT) and more to prepare for the future.


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 the 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 might become vital to helping enterprises manage IT and accelerate innovation.


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 might be doing better.

Cognitive learning further enables the business to unlock IoT value. For one, it might 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.

IT Management solutions
IBM Cloud Paks®

A faster, more reliable way to modernize and move to cloud.

Explore IBM Cloud Paks
Workforce Identity and Access Management (IAM)

Secure user productivity with cloud delivered Single Sign-On, multifactor authentication and identity governance.

Explore IBM Security Verify for Workforce IAM
Server and storage infrastructure

Servers, storage and software for on-premises IT and enterprise hybrid cloud.

Explore IT infrastructure solutions
Db2® on Cloud

A fully managed SQL cloud database. Easily deploy and scale on demand.

Explore IBM Db2 on Cloud
IT systems management for IBM Z® 

Optimize complex cloud environments with efficient systems management and operational insights.

Explore IBM Z systems management solutions
Resources The imperative role of strategy in cloud migration and app modernization

Find out why migration to the cloud is more than a technical exercise.

What is IT infrastructure?

Learn more about combined components needed for the operation and management of enterprise IT environments.

Take the next step

IBM Instana provides real-time observability that everyone and anyone can use. It delivers quick time-to-value while verifying that your observability strategy can keep up with the dynamic complexity of current and future environments. From mobile to mainframe, Instana supports over 250 technologies and growing. 

Explore IBM Instana Book a live demo

"2018 cost of data breach study" Global overview, Ponemon Institute LLC

"9 forces shaping the future of IT"(link resides outside ibm.com) IDG Communications, Inc.