The Growing World of ICT
Business owners are increasingly seeing the acronym "ICT" everywhere. It shows up at B2B conferences, in meetings with colleagues, in technology articles and everywhere in between. The pervasiveness of ICT is symptomatic of the past decade's massive changes in information technology, as companies the world over have become more reliant on technology for every aspect of their business. But what is ICT, and how does it affect your company now and in the future?
ICT stands for Information and Communications Technology. As a concept, ICT describes the convergence of several different technologies into one unified technology field. Computer hardware and software, computer networking, telephone systems and the like are no longer completely separate entities in many organizations. Instead, business enterprises are leveraging the combined power of ICT to enhance business communications, allowing for a more connected and efficient workforce.
How did we get along without our Blackberry or iPhone? As little as 10 years ago, business communications were fragmented. Your email went to Outlook, voicemail went to the phone on your desk and that was about it. Only a few really high tech folks used instant messaging applications, and even then, these were external apps like AOL Instant Messenger and Yahoo IM. Remote email connections were accomplished through the use of Outlook Web Access, but it was hardly a convenient solution for business people on the go. Many of the conveniences we experience today, like email on your cell phone, were just being developed.
The first step toward ICT was growing the technologies we already enjoyed. Blackberry handhelds by Research in Motion and similar devices were the first to deliver low-tech but usable email to employees. Business people became used to the idea of email on demand and constant communication with the office became desirable at first, and then absolutely necessary. Information and Communications Technology made its way into the everyday dealings of companies everywhere, to the point where many employees can now no longer get along without their "lifeline" to their coworkers. This growing need to be constantly connected has furthered technology convergence and matured the concept of Information and Communications Technology into the vision of ICT we see today.
In the modern business world, at companies all across the globe, business communication is no longer the fragmented mess it once was. ICT supports a new concept in technology called "unified messaging." What unified messaging does is integrate various messaging technologies into one interface that can be accessed from various devices. With ICT, users can access their business email from their smartphone and it will look exactly as it does in the office. Voicemails can now be delivered as MP3 files to an employee's Outlook Inbox. Cloud fax services make paper-based fax machines a thing of the past, as faxes are sent and received via email. Combining these technologies simplifies the experience of the end-user, allowing for more efficient communication and a constant connection with employees. The cash benefit of ICT isn't just time and manpower savings, either. By leveraging existing IP technology for voice systems, companies can eliminate their telephone systems, a huge monthly savings.
Information and Communications Technology is a growing field that more companies are joining every day. The business world is growing and only ICT can make it smaller, allowing for quick access to vital employees instantly. When decisions need to be made, they need to be made right now. With staff members always travelling, telecommuting and working in the field, ICT isn't just convenient; it's crucial. When it's time to get serious about what technology can do for your business, it is time to look into ICT.