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.
ICT is sometimes used synonymously with IT (for information technology); however, ICT is generally used to represent a broader, more comprehensive list of all components related to computer and digital technologies than IT.
The list of ICT components is exhaustive, and it continues to grow. Some components, such as computers and telephones, have existed for decades. Others, such as smartphones, digital TVs and robots, are more recent entries.
ICT commonly means more than its list of components, though. It also encompasses the application of all those various components. It’s here that the real potential, power and danger of ICT can be found.
ICT is leveraged for economic, societal and interpersonal transactions and interactions. ICT has drastically changed how people work, communicate, learn and live. Moreover, ICT continues to revolutionize all parts of the human experience as first computers and now robots do many of the tasks once handled by humans. For example, computers once answered phones and directed calls to the appropriate individuals to respond; now robots not only can answer the calls, but they can often more quickly and efficiently handle callers’ requests for services.
ICT’s importance to economic development and business growth has been so monumental, in fact, that it’s credited with ushering in what many have labeled the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
ICT also underpins broad shifts in society, as individuals en masse are moving from personal, face-to-face interactions to ones in the digital space. This new era is frequently termed the Digital Age.
For all its revolutionary aspects, though, ICT capabilities aren’t evenly distributed. Simply put, richer countries and richer individuals enjoy more access and thus have a greater ability to seize on the advantages and opportunities powered by ICT.