What is IT and why do we need it?
Basically, IT or Information Technology is the combination of Hardware (computer systems) and Software (Applications) which manage the information. That information is processed by the hardware and stored locally or in a Central location.
A computer system (or desktop computer) pretty much consists of a monitor, a main box (containing the hard drive, memory, mother board and DVD/CD drive) as well as a keyboard and mouse. An alternative to this is a laptop, which is a much smaller version of a desktop computer and contains all of the above components in one portable unit.
Both of these systems do have their benefits depending on what it is that you need. A desktop computer would obviously be confined to just the one spot in the office, however the laptop is very flexible and mobilized. Being a battery-run machine it can be carried if needed both around the office and outside of it.
Despite their differences, each of these systems requires software to function. Without the other both hardware and software are basically rendered useless.
What are the basics involved in IT systems?
Over the years IT systems has evolved from very simple examples including a single operator to very complex ones including multiple servers, strong storage devices, backup devices and to go with it a booming occupation of people dedicated to IT administration.
If we have a look at small/medium businesses, in general what will be found is a common set of applications that are use on a day to day basis to perform basic operational functions in the workplace.
Emails are used in order to communicate both internally within the company and externally beyond the workplace. Over time we have seen faxes being replaced by simple emails for many types of correspondence. Emails are a quick, cheap, reliable and effective way for businesses and their staff to communicate.
Banking and Accounting
There are heaps of IT programs out there which are designed to allow business to keep their finances in order. Programs such MYOB, QuickBooks and other accounting packages have allowed generate invoices, reports, reconciliation of accounts and both payable and receivable accounts to become simple tasks when utilizing these software packages.
Additionally, with access to the internet almost any of your external banking can be done through your computer by accessing your accounts online. All of the major banks have online banking capabilities that allow you to access transfers, balances, payments and the tracking of all your company and personal financial transactions.
Customer Databases and Customer Relationship Management Systems
Having a list of all existing clients, leads, prospects in a searchable in an easy to find format is absolutely ideal, especially for medium to large businesses. Using a computer system, businesses are able to quickly and efficiently manage existing accounts, find the right contacts and even look back at their historical records. Many facets of a business such as sales, accounts, management and all staff are able to utilise client databases in multiple ways. Databases streamline the business process and create internal efficiencies, allowing important information with widespread relevance to be centralised as well as backed up to avoid data loss.
Office Tools (Word processing, spreadsheets etc)
Many businesses will use Microsoft Office software such as Word and Excel in the day to day running of a working week. Microsoft Word is a crucial tool for word processing, creating documents and formatting information whilst Excel is essential for creating and processing information databases, tables and graphs. However in addition to these most popular programs are Publisher, PowerPoint and Outlook. Publisher allows you to create brochures and document templates for your clients and customers, whilst PowerPoint makes creating your business slideshows easy and Outlook is a simple and effective medium for email.
Efficient use of these tools is essential to the end product that you are able to produce and there are many guides for Dummies or beginners on how to use these programs both in paperback and online form.
Businesses use these essential tools so often that they often forget about the basics such as saving and backing up documents and programs. With the right IT partner, this should not be an issue as proper document management and back-up can and should be implemented or at the very least directed by your IT partner.