What is Information and Communication Technology?

Information and communications technology (ICT) refers to all the technology used to handle telecommunications, broadcast media, intelligent building management systems, audiovisual processing and transmission systems, and network-based control and monitoring functions. Although ICT is often considered an extended synonym for information technology (IT), its scope is more broad.

Information technology (IT) is the use of computers to store, retrieve, transmit, and manipulate data, or information, often in the context of a business or other enterprise. IT system is generally an information system, a communications system or, more specifically speaking, a computer system – including all hardware, software and peripheral equipment – operated by a limited group of users. 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. IT is considered to be a subset of information and communications technology (ICT).

ICT encompasses both the internet-enabled sphere as well as the mobile one powered by wireless networks. It also includes antiquated technologies, such as landline telephones, radio and television broadcast – all of which are still widely used today alongside cutting-edge ICT pieces such as artificial intelligence and robotics. The list of ICT components is exhaustive, and it continues to grow. Some components, such as computers and telephones, have existed for decades but smartphones, digital TVs and robots, are more recent entries.

Components of ICT

Cloud computing – The term is generally used to describe data centers available to many users over the Internet. Large clouds, predominant today, often have functions distributed over multiple locations from central servers. If the connection to the user is relatively close, it may be designated an edge server. Clouds may be limited to a single organization (enterprise clouds), be available to many organizations (public cloud) or a combination of both (hybrid cloud). The largest public cloud is Amazon AWS .

Software is a set of instructions, data or programs used to operate computers and execute specific tasks. Opposite of hardware, which describes the physical aspects of a computer, software is a generic term used to refer to applications, scripts and programs that run on a device. Software can be thought of as the variable part of a computer and hardware the invariable part. Software is often divided into application software, or user downloaded programs that fulfil a want or need, and system software, which includes operating systems and any program that supports application software.

Hardware – in the context of technology, refers to the physical elements that make up a computer or electronic system and everything else involved that is physically tangible. This includes the monitor, hard drive, memory and the CPU. Hardware works hand-in-hand with firmware and software to make a computer function. Hardware is only one part of a computer system; there is also firmware, which is embedded into the hardware and directly controls it.

Digital Transactions can be broadly defined as online or automated transactions that take place between people and organizations—without the use of paper. Digital transactions save time and money, resulting in a better bottom line. Customer experiences are also enhanced (think of the convenience of eSigning versus having to print a contract, sign it, and then return it by mail or fax). And digital transactions improve tracking capabilities—which helps reduce errors.

Digital Data is data that represents other forms of data using specific machine language systems that can be interpreted by various technologies. The most fundamental of these systems is a binary system, which simply stores complex audio, video or text information in a series of binary characters, traditionally ones and zeros, or «on» and «off» values.

Internet access is the process of connecting to the internet using personal computers, laptops or mobile devices by users or enterprises. Internet access is subject to data signalling rates and users could be connected at different internet speeds. Internet access enables individuals or organizations to avail internet services/web-based services. The internet began to gain popularity with dial-up internet access. In a relatively short time, internet access technologies changed, providing faster and more reliable options. Currently, broadband technologies such as cable internet and ADSL are the most widely used methods for internet access. The speed, cost, reliability and availability of internet access depends on the region, internet service provider and type of connection.

There are many different ways to obtain internet access, including Wireless connection, Mobile connection, Hotspots, Dial-up, Broadband, DSL or Satellite.

However, ICT commonly means more than its list of components, though. It also encompasses the application of all those various components.