Information technology is a phrase used to refer to specific technical components, normally organised as hardware, software and communications, which are used to make up an information system. But that is an almost hopelessly simplistic view of what information technology is.
The world of technology is constantly changing and presents special challenges. An IT support group in a large organisation needs to know about the different technologies that are used - the communications kit, the database software, the operating systems, and even the physical infrastructure that houses the technology - but what can a smaller business do to protect its interests? And, what do we all need to know as individuals if we are to make the best possible use of technology? If new technologies appear on average every three months, do we need to update our investment every three months? If we do not, what will the consequence to be?
This becomes an exercise in managing time horizons.
Stone, Z., Zickler, T. & Darrell, T. (2010) Toward large-scale face recognition using social network context. Proceedings of the IEEE, 98 (8), pp.1408-1415.
Zak Stone and colleagues provide an interesting, short, and optimistic (but somewhat mathematical) introduction to issues and methods of face recognition on the social web. I am not convinced that their positive optimism is warranted; they conclude with this assertion: "Ultimately, the growth of online social networks, the development of improved social tagging systems, and the increasing interconnectivity of the web have the potential to enhance our ability to achieve face recognition at scale. Exploring computational techniques that take advantage of these trends seems a worthwhile endeavor". Really worthwhile? What do you think?
Seif Zadeh, H., Luftman, J., Santana, M., Rigoni, E., Rodriguez-Abitia, G., 2012. Key Information Technology and Management Issues: 2011-12 Americas Study.
The IMBOK takes information technology and pegs it right at the left-hand end of our spectrum of interest; it is therefore interesting to find this survey of senior IT management (461 of them) that reveals a shift away from simple cost reduction (at the time of the 2008 global financial collapse) to intentions to improve productivity. This is not quite the same thing as cost reduction of course. It is essentially a comparison of the differences between the United States and Latin America, focusing on Business intelligence (BI), Cloud computing, ERP systems, Mobile and wireless applications and Customer relationship management (CRM). I worry about the fact that these might have been the top areas of concern, but are they apples and apples, or apples and oranges? It is an odd mixture: ERP includes BI; BI can rely heavily on the Cloud as a data resource, CRM is (in my view) a pure example of an application that may or may not depend on mobile devices. In summary, this is a paper that desperately needs to be unpacked using the IMBOK so that the critical dependencies between techology, systems, processes, benefits and strategies can be properly understood. Without the separation of these quite different areas of concern, confusion will be endemic. Are you convinced? If you have thought for a moment about the rationale for the IMBOK then you should be ... but perhaps I am being too hard on Luftman and his friends. Have a look, make up your own mind.