Information Technology, IT is the technology that is used to acquire, store, organize, and process data which is provided by people in a computer systems to a form that can be used in specified applications, and disseminate the processed data. Thus, information is processed data based on which decisions can be taken and appropriate actions initiated while data is the raw material fed into the computer. Conclusively, information is processed data that improves our knowledge, enabling us to do work more efficiently.
The main purpose of IT is to process the data through a series of instructions to give out the results as information. It is mainly concerned with acquisition, storage, organisation, processing of data, output and dissemination of processed data. Therefore, there has to be an intelligent system to enable it process data into it through an input device and give out the results as information via an output device. The interface that links different components of an IT system is known as a computer system.
IT is a broad field that has so much to offer. The computer has made work easier because of its speed, accuracy, diligence, reliability, storage capability, versatility and resource sharing. It has transformed the world into a global village as information can be easily shared with different people across the globe. The advantages of IT far much surpasses the disadvantages and therefore it is a very powerful tool and has been adopted by many companies and institutions to help in accomplishing different tasks in different fields. The computer systems are very intelligent and are slowly replacing people in different places of work. The developments in the IT field continue to be realized day by day and according to researchers, the innovations and the developments are far from ending. As time goes, the physical sizes of computer systems tend to reduce with an increase in performance. This makes the use of computers more and more convenient and efficient.
Computer Systems – ‘The Taxonomy of Information Technology’
A computer system is a combination of components designed to process and store data. The design of the computer system is based on the intelligence of humans and the operations tend to imitate how a human brain functions. A computer system has three parts mainly the hardware, software, and the people who make it work. This is outlined below:
It is the physical tangible parts of a computer system and it provides the capabilities or the platform on which operations are conducted. They include the Central Processing Unit (CPU), keyboards, monitors, drives etc. Computer hardware is further classified into:
a) Input devices
They are used for capturing data into the computer. They form the interface between the operator and the computer.
i) Central Processing Unit, CPU
It is the control centre of a computer unit and has two main parts used for different operations.
(1) Arithmetic Logic Unit, ALU
Performs arithmetic and logical operations that include; Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, comparison and moving data.
(2) Control Unit
This unit controls systematic running of the computer system by sending electrical signals to various parts of the system.
ii) Main Memory
The main memory or immediate access store stores all programs and data that are being used. As the data or programs are needed immediately, the memory is immediately accessible. The main memory is made up of two types of memory that include
(1) Random Access Memory, RAM
This a temporary memory that looses all the information stored when the computer is switched off. RAM is sometimes referred to as volatile memory because stored data disappears when the computer is switched off. Data and instructions that are currently being processed by the computer are stored in the RAM. Because the access is random, the data and stored instructions can be accessed immediately. Information and data can be put into the RAM using input devices such as keyboards, light pens, wand readers etc.
(2) Read Only Memory, ROM
ROM can only be read from. It cannot be changed. Programs which need to be kept permanently are stored in ROM. Programs kept in ROM include the operating system and sometimes the language the computer uses. ROM is a permanent memory and is often referred to as being non-volatile. ROM is placed in a silicon chip.
Their main purpose of storage in a computer is to hold the data being processed and store the information that has been processed. Types of storage include Main storage and Backing storage.
They display the results of processed information. Examples Monitors, Printers, Speakers.
These are steps of instructions that the computer follows to execute a particular task. It is the intangible part of a computer. Also known as programs. Computer software is made up of:
a) Application packages
These allow the user to accomplish specific tasks. Examples are MS Word for Word processing, Oracle for Database Management Systems, MS PowerPoint for Presentations etc.
b) Programming language
These programs are used to write instructions that can be translated into machine language. Examples are C++, Visual Basic, Smalltalk etc.
c) System software
These special programs enable the hardware of a computer system to function correctly. The system software is not just one program. It consist of a number of programs each responsible for a particular task;
i) Booting software
This program initiates the bootstrapping process that starts operating systems when the user turns on a computer.
ii) Language translators
These enable instructions to be converted into machine code. There are three types of translators. They include;
They are translator programs supplied by the computer manufacturer. They translate assembly language instructions into machine code. Assembly language is a low-level programming language which is easy to translate into machine code.
Interpreters are translator programs that translate and execute each instruction in turn from a high-level language into machine language.
Compilers are programs that can translate a complete source program from a high-level language (source program) to machine language (object program).
iii) Operating system, OS
This is the most important program that allows the user to access application programs by providing a software platform, perform basic tasks such as recognizing input and displaying output and control hardware devices.
The operating system decides what order the programs are carried out, this is referred to as job sequencing. Some of the programs are given priority (Job scheduling) and it is possible for the computer operator to change the order. Other functions of an OS are resource management, data management, and standard means of communication between the user and computer.
Examples include, Windows XP/Vista/7, Linux, UNIX, Mac
Also known as Live-ware or User. They are concerned with directing the operations and the sequence of tasks to be performed in a computer system using hardware and software. For the user to get information into the CPU, you need an input device. To get information out you need an output device. The input and output buffers are part of the CPU where the data is stored temporarily to cope with the difference in speeds of the various peripheral (input and output) devices.
Information Technology Trends
The future of Information Technology is progressing at an ever-increasing pace. The growth and development of information technology has led to their wide diffusion and application, thus increasing their economic and social impact. New technologies for extremely dense storage, enormous bandwidth over optical fibers, and faster transistors are fueling this growth. A major trend is the connected computation everywhere that will rapidly change the interaction of people and objects with the digital world, making pervasive devices the dominant means of information access. Expectedly, a utility-like model for value delivery through IT will emerge, based on an intelligent infrastructure.
Information Technology value will therefore advance by building higher level of software components, increasingly delivered as services, on winning application platforms. Another trend is the e-business, which in the future will be dynamic, adaptive and continuously optimized, depending on powerful business analytics and knowledge management for survival. Information technology emerging trend is set to be seen in different areas of specialization, the significant one being Healthcare, hotel industry, accounting industry, and education. For example, the industrial engineering department at Purdue University has revealed the “vision-based hand gesture recognition” technology that will aid surgeons of the future to use a system that recognizes hand gestures as commands to control a robotic scrub nurse or tell a computer to display medical images of the patient during an operation. Evidently, both the hand-gesture recognition and robotic nurse innovations might help to reduce the length of surgeries and the potential of infections.