What Does an Information Technologist Do? (Plus Skills)
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Information technologists are important members of the IT department. These professionals ensure that computer and network systems operate effectively for seamless communications and operations. If you're considering this profession, knowing about the functions of the role can help you determine whether it's ideal for you. In this article, we define what an information technologist is, outline the duties of the role, list the skills and identify the different specialities of the profession.
What is an information technologist?
An information technologist is a professional who creates, operates, maintains and improves computer, network and data infrastructure. Their primary duty is to help organisations manage their information efficiently, using general and proprietary software and hardware solutions. As an information technologist, your work can involve creating specialised software to protect a company's confidential trade secrets or simplifying database management processes.
Information technologists can also formulate data management best practices and implement strategies and policies for preventing malicious actors from gaining access to trade secrets. There are several specialities in this profession, meaning that you can choose a field based on your interests and professional aspirations.
What does an information technologist do?
Understanding "What does an information technologist do?" can help you determine whether it's an ideal career path for you. Here are some common duties of information technologists:
Maintening telecommunications infrastructure
A common function of information technologists is to maintain telecommunications equipment and networks. These professionals ensure that hardware and software components are operating at optimal levels. They test new and old equipment and update obsolete or vulnerable components to prevent the failure or breach of critical communications systems. Their duties can also involve buying new information technology systems and advising management on investments in this area.
Developing telecommunications systems
Information technologists can also design and develop an organisation's telecommunication infrastructure. They collaborate with other members of the IT department to determine the type of network infrastructure, grade of computer systems required for daily operations and whether to host critical aspects of the system on-premises or on the cloud. These professionals perform different evaluations before choosing a strategy that combines cost-effectiveness with safety, ease of maintenance and the company's budget.
Managing telecommunications systems
Besides choosing the best telecommunications systems, information technologists also create guidelines for operating, maintaining and upgrading IT infrastructure. They develop best practices for using computer and network systems to prevent data and security breaches. These professionals also create contingencies to deal with potential cyberattacks to prevent the disruption of company activities and safeguard sensitive corporate data.
As an information technologist, your work can involve training people on the use of telecommunication equipment. This is an extension of the managerial aspects of the job. Your duties can involve teaching employees of a company how to use the latest version of proprietary software or operate an upgraded component of the network infrastructure. Sometimes, you may train technicians on how to maintain and repair new computer hardware and document resolving the problem.
Conducting feasibility studies
If you're a consultant information technologist, you can perform feasibility studies on behalf of clients. Such studies can help companies determine whether the market may accept a new product or service. The assessment may also focus on the potential returns on investment for installing a new IT system instead of upgrading an existing one.
Overseeing product development
Information technologists help develop computer software and hardware products. They can serve in different capacities during the software development life cycle (SDLC), whether as project managers, quality control analysts, product testers and liaison officers between technical and business teams and the client. As an expert in the SDLC, you can work on behalf of clients or service providers, such as reviewing the performance parameters for each sprint or implementing client revisions.
Analysing business data
Some information technologists perform data analysis functions. Depending on your training, you can perform basic, intermediate and advanced data analysis operations. With adequate training and specialisation, you can become a business intelligence specialist who collects, sorts, mines, analyses and interprets data from a company's operations. Business intelligence helps organisations identify patterns in their data and use those insights to enhance their decision-making process.
Coordinating IT operations
As an information technologist, you can also coordinate the activities of a company's IT department. This can include supervising help desk technicians and delegating duties to ensure the smooth operation of IT systems. The role can also involve working with other heads of departments to determine their requirements and advising management on ways to improve data security and information management.
In this role, you can create websites and other online real estate for clients or work as an in-house web developer for a company. Your duties can involve designing and building websites, loading themes, improving website layouts, advising the editorial team and monitoring and improving the user experience. The role requires a well-rounded professional in the technological development space.
Information technologists can specialise in application development. Your duties can involve designing, building and updating web and mobile applications for a wide range of uses. Providing this service requires learning one or two programming languages and being able to create applications with cross-platform compatibility and functionality.
Specialisations in information technology
Here are specialisation pathways you can choose as an information technologist:
Information security: Information security specialists protect the integrity of computer, network and database systems. They assess IT infrastructure for vulnerabilities and train users on best practices to prevent malicious cyber activities.
IT architecture: These specialists help organisations translate business challenges into technical terms teams can use to create bespoke solutions. They help business managers to identify technological solutions to achieve organisational goals.
Business intelligence: Business intelligence involves collecting, analysing, presenting and identifying patterns in data to support decision making. As a business intelligence analyst, you help companies make sense of their data and use it to improve results and processes.
Systems development: Systems development specialists solve business solutions with computer, network and database infrastructure. They ensure the organisation's telecommunications systems work optimally and are free from threats.
Database administration: As a database administrator, you manage, operate and maintain a company's database systems. The role requires knowledge of database query programmes and expertise in regulatory best practices.
Legal informatics: Specialists in this field have an in-depth understanding of the intersection of the law and technology. They help organisations create policies to guide the ethical use of technological solutions and adhere to regulatory guidelines regarding privacy, cyber security and financial crimes.
Skills for information technologists
Here are important skills that can help information technologists perform their roles effectively:
Working as an information technologist requires having excellent communication skills. The role involves interacting and collaborating with a wide range of individuals within and outside organisations. As the link between the technical and non-technical teams in a company, it's important for you to be adept at communicating IT terminologies in an accessible language to business professionals. This role requires exceptional written and communication skills and the ability to listen actively to other people's feedback to understand their needs and find appropriate solutions.
It's important to have a high level of organisational skills in this role. This is because information technologists have many duties that require overseeing the smooth operation of critical IT infrastructure. The role requires skilful planning, excellent delegation and timely threat assessments to prevent ensure smooth operations.
Information technologists are essentially problem-solvers. They help translate challenges facing business managers into key points technical teams can use to build solutions. These professionals also help management make informed decisions about how to solve IT-related challenges and comply with industry regulations.
If you want to be successful as an information technologist, it's important to have leadership skills. The role can be mid to senior level and often involves overseeing other technical staff. Besides, the position involves training people, managing resources and performing administrative duties, which require leadership experience.
Successful information technologists are experts in their chosen specialities. They also tend to have extensive general experience of information technology, which allows them to work effectively with diverse technical teams. To excel in this role, it's important to have at least basic knowledge of networking, software development, systems and database administration and technical support.
Working as an information technologist requires being knowledgeable about your employer's industry and business environment. This expertise can give you unique insights into how to apply technological solutions to business problems. It also allows you to work more effectively with the technical and business sides of the company, leveraging the capabilities of one to improve the efficiency and performance of the other.