What is ICT?
ICT stands for "Information Communications Technology".
ICT is the use of technology for the input, processing, storage and transfer of data and the output of information.
ICT does not just refer to traditional computers doing tasks such as sales processing. The input would be sales data, output would be an invoice.
ICT involves laptops, PDAs, mobile phones, digital set top boxes and more.
What is a System?
System does not just apply to computers, it applies to many areas of science and engineering.
All systems have three stages: input, processing and output.
An example of a system:
- A restaurant needs a system for recording customers' orders. (Input)
- Put all the prices for the seperate items together and add up the total the customer has to pay (Process)
- Produce a bill for the customer (Output)
The stages of input, process and output form the basic functions of a computer system. Explanation:
- Data is entered via an input device (keyboard?)
- Calculations, queries and other operations are performed on the data to process it.
- The results are sent to an output device (monitor? printer?)
What is an ICT System?
ICT systems are those where the output from the system goes directly to a human being or into another ICT system.
Organisations use ICT systems in various ways for a variety of reasons:
- ICT systems are used to fufil goals. The nature of the ICT system will depend on what the goals are.
- ICT systems are used to replace paper based systems.
- This includes receipts, invoices, sales, reports and wage slips.
- Other ICT systems have been created for situations which would have been impossible without the processing speed of modern computers.
Components of ICT Systems
The following are the components of an ICT system:
No ICT system can work without people being involved at various stages.
Analysis, design, implementation and testing would be done by programmers and system analysts.
A system is more likely to succeed if clients and end users are involved at every stage.
Large organisations are often divided into departments that carry out the four main functions of business. They make use of ICT systems in all aspects of the business.
- Sales - processing transcations involving the sales of goods/services.
- Purchasing - processing transcations inolving the purchase of goods/services.
- Finance - managing the flow of money in and out of the organisation.
- Operations - carrying out the main business of the organisation.
Departments in an organisation would communicate with each other and communicate with customers/suppliers. This will be done using various types of ICT process:
- finance, payroll, budgeting, forecasting using spreadsheet software.
- stock control using relational database management software.
- marketing of products and services.
Networks and intranets can help workers to communicate and share data to produce and efficient organisation even if some of the workers are on the opposite side of the world.
Definition of data is raw facts/figures or a set of values.
Examples of data:
- 25, 30, 45, 60
- Jones, Smith, Parker
Data can be input by different input devices (see Chapter 1 for different input devices).
Examples of input devices:
- Bar-code reader
- Digital Camera
If an ICT system is to work effectively, procedures must be in place.
Organisations have a code of practice which governs the way in which one can use their ICT system.
All laws and legislation introduced by the government must also be taken into account when using ICT systems.
These include: Data Protection Act, Computer Misuse Act and the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (all covered in Chapter 13)
Users must ensure security procedures are also followed. Examples include the use of user names and passwords and using anti-virus software to check removable media for viruses or any potential threats to the system.
Breaches of the procedures can be dealt with via the company's ICT code of practice.
Software packages are the programs that make the computer a useful tool by carrying out the processing.
More in Chapter 4. The choice of software will depend on the system being implemented.
The choice of software must ensure that the desired output will be produced.
The choice could be from:
- Word processors
- Webpage designers
- Database management
- Desktop Publishing
- Presentation packages
Special purpose software such as accounting packages may also be used in an organisation.
The type of computer and peripherals chosen will depend on the type of processing and output that is intended for the task.
Storage space and processing power are two key aspects that will be taken into account when making choices about the hardware chosen.
Main hardware components of an ICT system include:
- Input devices
- Processors (CPU)
- Output devices
- Ports and cables (Paralell, USB, serial)
- Storage devices (hard drive, CD-R, DVD-R, memory stick)
The final output is the information produced. Information is data that has been processed into something that is meaningful.
An example would be grades achieved in an exam presented in a graph. The input would be the raw marks. The processing required would be converting the raw marks into a standardised mark, converting it into a grade and sorting them accordingly.