INTRODUCTION OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY
OVERVIEW OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY
Information and communication technology (ICT) is often used as an extended synonym for information technology (IT). It is a more extensive term (i.e. broader in scope) that stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications (telephone lines and wireless signals), computers as well as necessary enterprise software, middleware, storage, and audio-visual systems, which enable users to access, store, transmit, and manipulate information.
The term ICT is also used to refer to the convergence of audio-visual and telephone networks with computer networks through a single cabling or link system. There are large economic incentives (huge cost savings due to elimination of the telephone network) to merge the telephone network with the computer network system using a single unified system of cabling, signal distribution and management.
However, ICT has no universal definition, as “the concepts, methods and applications involved in ICT are constantly evolving on an almost daily basis.” The broadness of ICT covers any product that will store, retrieve, manipulate, transmit or receive information electronically in a digital form, e.g. personal computers, digital television, email, robots.
Information technology (IT) is the application of computers and telecommunications equipment to store, retrieve, transmit and manipulate data, often in the context of a business or other enterprise.
The term is commonly used as a synonym for computers and computer networks, but it also encompasses other information distribution technologies such as television and telephones. Several industries are associated with information technology, including computer hardware, software, electronics, semiconductors, internet, telecom equipment, engineering, healthcare, e-commerce and computer services Information center- A division within the IT department that supports end-user computing. It is responsible for training users in applications and solving related personal computer problems.
APPLICATION AREA OF INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY
The Benefits of Using ICT in Business & Finance
Information and communications technology systems include desktop computers, laptops and tablets, fixed and mobile telephone systems, communications networks and software – even wearables. Your business can use ICT systems to benefit from improvements such as reducing costs, increasing efficiency, improving decision-making and increasing your competitiveness in the marketplace.
ICT systems allow your business to store, process, analyze and share vast amounts of data. The information available from corporate data enables managers and employees to make decisions quickly and accurately so that they can manage operations effectively and respond rapidly to business opportunities or threats. Communication networks also enable decision-makers in different locations to work together easily when they need to take joint decisions.
Increased Manufacturing Productivity
By automating business processes and giving employees ICT tools, your business can improve its individual and overall productivity. On the production line, for example, solutions such as computer-aided design can help to reduce set-up times and improve manufacturing accuracy so that employees spend less time on reworking. Access to manufacturing data enables managers to plan production more effectively, making better use of resources and reducing lead times.
Improved Customer Service
Quality of customer service is an important differentiator for businesses. Your company can use ICT solutions to offer faster response to and higher standards of service to its customers. If you run a call center, for example, your agents can access databases that provide comprehensive customer information, including purchase history and product preferences. The information helps them deal quickly and efficiently with inquiries, boosting customer satisfaction. Service personnel working in the field can access customer, service and product databases using smartphones with secure Internet connections. This enables them to fix problems quickly and effectively, again boosting customer satisfaction.
Greater and Virtual Collaboration
Communication networks enable your project teams to collaborate effectively. By using videoconferencing or web conferencing over the Internet, teams can hold virtual meetings that bring together members from different locations, or different organizations, such as suppliers or business partners. This helps to create stronger project teams and enables the teams to maintain progress on important projects, rather than waiting for members to meet in a single location. In a product development program, for example, teams can reduce overall project time and get new products to market faster, giving the company a strong competitive advantage.
Improved Financial Performance
ICT solutions can help your organization reduce costs, increase revenue and improve profitability. Using videoconferencing to host meetings between members in different locations, for example, reduces travel costs. Production data can help staff identify quality problems, reducing waste and reworking costs. Call center agents can use information available on their customer databases to increase revenue by identifying opportunities for selling additional products or services. Cost reductions and revenue gains make an important contribution to overall profitability.
THE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF ICT
As it is known from time immemorial that everything in life is like the two side of a coin, there is always a positive and negative side of every phenomenon. But whether the effect is positive or negative the effects of Information Communication Technology (ICT) is far reaching and cannot be overemphasized. The Effects of ICT lens looks at how our lives have been changed, for better and for worse, by the impact of ICT. It includes both positive effects and negative effects and looks at how individuals’ organizations and society are affected.
ICT CAN HAVE POSITIVE IMPACTS ON PEOPLE
Access to information: Possibly the greatest effect of ICT on individuals is the huge increase in access to information and services that has accompanied the growth of the Internet. Some of the positive aspects of this increased access are better, and often cheaper, communications, such as VoIP phone and Instant Messaging. In addition, the use of ICT to access information has brought new opportunities for leisure and entertainment, the facility to make contacts and form relationships with people around the world, and the ability to obtain goods and services from a wider range of suppliers.
Improved access to education, e.g. distance learning and on-line tutorials. New ways of learning, e.g. interactive multi-media and virtual reality. New job opportunities, e.g. flexible and mobile working, virtual offices and jobs in the communications industry.
▪ New tools, new opportunities: The second big effect of ICT is that it gives access to new tools that did not previously exist. A lot of these are tied into the access to information mentioned above, but there are many examples of stand-alone ICT systems as well: ICT can be used for processes that had previously been out of the reach of most individuals, e.g. photography, where digital cameras, photo-editing software and high-quality printers have enabled people to produce results that would previously require a photographic studio. ICT can be used to help people overcome disabilities. e.g. screen magnification or screen reading software enables partially sighted or blind people to work with ordinary text rather than Braille.
NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF ICT ON PEOPLE
▪ Job loss: One of the largest negative effects of ICT can be the loss of a person’s job. This has both economic consequences, loss of income, and social consequences, loss of status and self-esteem. Job losses may occur for several reasons, including: Manual operations being replaced by automation. e.g. robots replacing people on an assembly line. Job export. e.g. Data processing work being sent to other countries where operating costs are lower. Multiple workers being replaced by a smaller number who are able to do the same amount of work. e.g. A worker on a supermarket checkout can serve more customers per hour if a bar-code scanner linked to a computerized till is used to detect goods instead of the worker having to enter the item and price manually▪ Reduced personal interaction: Being able to work from home is usually regarded as being a positive effect of using ICT, but there can be negative aspects as well. Most people need some form of social interaction in their daily lives and if they do not get the chance to meet and talk with other people, they may feel isolated and unhappy.
▪ Reduced physical activity: A third negative effect of ICT is that users may adopt a more sedentary lifestyle. This can lead to health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Many countries have workplace regulations to prevent problems such as repetitive strain injury or eyestrain, but lack of physical exercise is rarely addressed as a specific health hazard.