operating systems

Introduction to ICT

Short for information and communication technology, it is the study or business of developing and using technology to process information and support communication.

(e.g.: voice conversation, e-mail, processing of business data via computer applications, etc.).

In recent years, the way information is collected, archived and used in companies and government agencies around the world has been completely revolutionized. In much of the world, the workplace has transitioned from a paper document-based workplace fraught with errors and delays to an information technology (IT)-based workplace.

However, apart from the explanation of an acronym, is there no universally accepted definition of ICT? Why? Because the concepts, methods and applications of ICT are evolving almost every day. It’s difficult to keep up with the changes – they happen so quickly.

Let’s focus on the three words behind ICT:

INFORMATION

COMMUNICATION

TECHNOLOGY

A good way to think about ICT is to consider all the pre-existing uses of digital technology to help individuals, businesses and organizations use information.

ICT includes all products that store, retrieve, manipulate, transmit or receive information electronically in digital form. For example personal computers, digital television, email, robots.

So ICT deals with storing, retrieving, manipulating, transmitting or receiving digital data. Importantly, it also addresses how these disparate uses can work together.

Discuss: Why IT is so important to the modern world

In business, ICT is often divided into two broad product types:

The traditional computer-based technologies (things you can usually do on a personal computer or with computers at home or at work); and

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The newer and rapidly growing range of digital communication technologies (which enable people and organizations to communicate and share information digitally)

Traditional computerized technologies

These types of ICT include:

Standard office applications – main examples

word processing

B. Microsoft Word: Write letters, reports, etc

spreadsheets

eg Microsoft Excel; analyze financial information; calculations; create forecast models etc

database software

B. Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Access; Management of data in many forms, from simple lists (e.g. customer contacts) to complex materials (e.g. catalogue))

presentation program

eg Microsoft Power Point; Make presentations, either directly from a computer screen or data projector. Publish in digital form via email or over the web.

desktop publishing

eg Adobe Indesign, Quark Express, Microsoft Publisher; Create newsletters, magazines and other complex documents.

graphics software

eg Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator; Macromedia Freehand and Fireworks; Create and edit images such as logos, drawings or images for use in DTP, websites or other publications

Specialist applications – examples (there are many!)

accounting package

B. sage, oracle; Manage an organization’s accounts including income/sales, purchases, bank accounts, etc. A wide range of systems are available, ranging from basic packages for small businesses to sophisticated packages for multinational companies.

Computer Aided Design

Computer Aided Design (CAD) is the use of computers to aid in the design process. Specialized CAD programs exist for many types of design: architecture, engineering, electronics, road construction.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Software that enables companies to better understand their customers by collecting and analyzing data about them, such as:

Traditional computerized technologies

The C part of ICT refers to the transmission of data by electronic means, usually over some distance. This is often accomplished through networks of transceivers, cables, and satellite links.

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The technologies involved in communication are usually complex. You certainly don’t need to understand them for your ICT course. However, there are aspects of digital communication that you need to be aware of. These relate primarily to the types of networks and the types of connection to the Internet. Let’s take a quick look at these two.

internal networks

Commonly referred to as a local area network (LAN), this involves the connection of a number of hardware elements (input and output devices plus computer processing) within an office or building.

The goal of LAN is to share hardware devices such as printers or scanners, software applications, and data. This type of network is invaluable in office environments where colleagues need access to shared data or programs.

External Networks

Often you need to communicate with someone outside of your internal network, in which case you need to be part of a wide area network (WAN). The Internet is the ultimate WAN – it’s a vast network of networks.

ICT in a broader context

This will almost certainly cover the above examples of ICT in action and perhaps focus on the use of key applications such as spreadsheet, database, presentation, graphics and web design software.

It also covers the following key topics dealing with the way ICT is used and managed in an organisation:

The nature of the information (the “I” in ICT)

This includes issues such as the importance and value of information; how information is controlled; the limits of ICT; legal considerations.

management of information

this includes how data is collected, verified and stored for effective use; the manipulation, processing and dissemination of information; keep information secure; Designing networks for sharing information

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Information systems strategy

It takes into account how ICT can be used within a company or organization as part of the achievement of objectives

As you can see, ICT is a broad and rapidly changing topic.

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