What’s Information and Communications Technology?
Written by: North Carolina Central University • Jan 26, 2024
What’s Information and Communications Technology? ¶
Technology and how we communicate are constantly evolving concepts. The telegraph and telephone of the 1800s paved the way for email, instant messaging, social media, Zoom calls, and other modern means of communication that are conducted using smartphones, tablet computers, and laptops.
For most people, using technology to communicate is a natural part of their daily lives, both personally and professionally. Information and communications technology (ICT) is an umbrella term that encompasses all applications, networking components, infrastructure, and devices associated with computing and the exchange of information.
It’s important to understand ICT’s role in business and the value of an IT degree for those who are considering a career in IT.
Information and Communications Technology Defined ¶
When learning about information and communications technology, it’s important to know that it’s not the same thing as IT, although some people use the terms interchangeably. For clarity, IT represents the technologies that focus on information. That includes all hardware, software, and networking that facilitate the transmission, exchange, and storage of data.
By comparison, ICT is far broader in scope, consisting of all technologies, components, and infrastructure that foster communication and our ability to access information. ICT includes telecommunications devices; IT doesn’t. For example, a landline telephone is categorized under ICT because it’s used as a communication device but can’t be used to transmit data.
According to IT publisher TechTarget, ICT consists of the following seven components:
- Cloud computing
- Transactions (e-commerce)
- Communications technology
- Internet access
Also worth noting is that any policies and protocols that are relevant to information and communications are typically categorized as part of ICT.
Pros and Cons of Information and Communications Technology ¶
The evolution of ICT has proven to be both a help and a hindrance. When new technologies are invented, they typically address a problem or deliver efficiency to a process. On that same note, some technologies create problematic by-products.
The main pros of ICT include the following:
- Networks and devices are more accessible than ever.
- Coverage areas are expansive.
- People have access to numerous avenues of communicating and accessing information.
- Technology has increased efficiency and convenience.
- Communication can be conducted on a macro level.
The cons of ICT include the following:
- Risks of privacy issues and security threats have increased.
- The potential for communication faux pas or misunderstandings has increased.
- Macro-level communications can be leveraged for misinformation and disinformation.
- The risk of technology dependence has trended upward as more adopt it.
- Technology may hinder social skill development and the ability to have face-to-face interactions.
The Role of Information and Communications Technology in Business ¶
Information and communications technology is synonymous with the modern business environment. In fact, the ability of an organization to leverage ICT to its advantage often determines its success.
For example, videoconferencing proved to be a suitable alternative to in-person meetings during the pandemic. Some companies discovered this sooner than others, thereby mitigating potential business disruptions and maintaining productivity.
Organizations of all sizes across every industry use ICT to communicate, serve customers, receive payments, and handle their data. Most companies are so reliant on the components of ICT that they can’t conduct operations without them, especially companies in the technology sector.
ICT enables companies to do the following:
- Data collection, analysis, and storage
- Effective and efficient business operations management
- Internal and external communications
- E-commerce transactions
- Cloud computing
- Remote work and collaboration
- Customer service and troubleshooting
- Automation of simple or repetitive tasks
- Advanced computing and data processing
- Digital marketing and advertising
How Amazon Leveraged ICT ¶
ICT is an integral part of today’s fast-paced business environment. It’s safe to say all businesses use ICT to a degree, but some do it better than others.
Amazon is a great example of a company leveraging ICT to gain a competitive advantage over its competitors. From 1994 to 1998, the company exclusively sold books online, providing ease and convenience to shoppers who wanted an alternative to physical bookstores. Amazon’s online format has equated to unlimited “shelf space,” overcoming the common problem of consumers being unable to locate a book because it’s sold out or the bookstore doesn’t carry it.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Amazon collects user data that it leverages to recommend titles and influence buyer behavior through targeted marketing. This strategic use of data is one of the main reasons that Amazon was eventually able to take over a space previously dominated by brick-and-mortar stores.
How to Qualify for Careers in the ICT Field ¶
Innovations in information and communications technology and its many applications drive the modern business world. ICT has not only evolved the way that we communicate and access information but also created numerous career paths for those who are proficient in an area of technology.
Those who have the right education and training qualify to become software developers, database administrators, computer systems analysts, and other rewarding roles in the ICT field. Also worth noting is that ICT roles offer competitive salaries and are projected to grow long term.
The best place to get started is by exploring your education options, such as the Bachelor of Science (BS) in IT with a concentration in ICT offered at North Carolina Central University. Taught by experienced instructors in a virtual format, students will learn the most important skills and competencies relevant to their career path, including the following:
- Database management systems
- Cybersecurity fundamentals
- Business programming
- IT and systems software
- Systems analysis and design
Learn more about the program so that you can see how an education in IT can support your professional endeavors.