Information Technology and Its Development Environment
In a broad sense, information is structured, processed and organised information. It gives context to other information and enables effective decision making in any situation. For instance, a single customer’s sale in a restaurant is information it becomes information the company can use to segment customers into specific groups or can use to calculate average order values. Thus information is key to any successful organisation.
How then do we structure information to give meaning to it and make it meaningful? This is the age-old question posed by Praveem Bhandari and Amresh Wali, the Co-chairs of the IT and Management Association of India (IMAI). The solution lies in the integration of information technology (IT) and database management software (DMS). Information technology refers to designing and developing information systems such as e-commerce and web portals. Database management software optimises the access, processing, storage and retrieval of information and data for both routine and complex situations. The two complement each other and form the key ingredients of information technology and information management.
The challenge facing organizations today is how to use IT and database management software to design information systems that are not only relevant, but also cost-effective. Many believe that designing and developing information systems should be a ‘bottom-line’ activity because it costs thousands of crores to develop an information system. Organizations therefore look for ways to cut down on expenditures whilst still delivering a valuable service or product. The Indian government is taking initiatives to change the way organizations handle information technology and database management software by introducing a number of financial incentives and federal grants in the form of Minimum Financial Capability (MFC) and Improved Financial Condition (IFCS) schemes.
The introduction of a MFC is aimed at improving the process of information exchange and will help organizations develop and maintain a suitable information-disposal strategy. To improve the disposal process, organizations must also develop a data governance policy, which involves ensuring that information stored in the database is properly secured. The introduction of a MFC requires the release of database management software developed by an external organization, typically a private sector company. The MFC is usually supported by an IT-expert team who ensure the software meets the stipulated MFC criteria.
An important step towards the use of information technology and its related activities is the creation of a data management infrastructure, which should include servers, workstations and computers. The development environment of information technology includes a number of projects, such as developing a website, creating a web application, producing a distribution service, producing a content management system and developing a corporate intranet. These projects require large investments, and most IT organizations can’t afford to invest these large resources without having an information security plan. This plan generally involves building firewalls, monitoring software, implementing antivirus programs, controlling access to files and database, and developing disaster recovery procedures. Organizations also need to have systems in place that provide protection against hackers and provide information to support the operations of the company.
The introduction of MFC into organizations has helped reduce the risks associated with information security and increased productivity. Information technology security plans and policies can be updated whenever required, and the requirements of the projects can be changed according to progress of the company’s business. MFCs allow users to make more efficient use of information technology resources, and they can also be used to share information between different departments.