What does information and communication technology (ICT) imply in 2021?
The legacy ICT arena－which was always a hi-tech arena－has morphed into possibly the most dynamic edge of technology for manufacturing concerns and others anticipating the IoT with more excitement and trepidation than most.
Toss in the advent of 5G – and the (almost) default integration of BYO devices into commerce and industry – and it’s easy to see just how positively vanguard-like ICT now is as we head into the future. Reputable support crews like Mustard IT can attest that ICT issues can dominate software support. Today’s digitised marketplaces are all about communication via a host of platforms, including a multitude of data and access points－the nightmare of bygone support techies!
After evolving so dramatically over the last five years, what does ICT mean today?
The big themes of ICT today
Mobile is huge.
That’s a valid statement for everyone – regardless of whether you’re a personal user, a mobile service provider, or a business owner. Although cell phones were originally considered personal items when they first arrived on the scene, and weren’t often used by staff at their workplaces for work–that notion’s been stood on its head!
Today, it’s more often a liability if you don’t have a smartphone or tablet to access your company’s IP from wherever you are.
The expectation has become that people will overlap into working with their personal devices, and it’s become so because it has business benefits. It enables collaboration (and extended working hours), and it also feels like you can meet your clients’ expectations of communication if 1) everyone is connected and 2) all channels are open. This stance on working connectivity and its impact on the customer journey has diversified ICT enormously.
Of course, BYO device assimilation comes with risks alongside those benefits, and managing those most cost-effectively again falls to the ICT consultant. Probably the greatest pain point ICT consultants resolve, however, is with finance.
As mobile has become a default business platform, many companies have struggled to contain costs. Finance has been moaning every month about extraneous spending on mobile, constantly covering spiraling staff and company bills in a blur, and this while battling to determine if they’re even getting value for money.
The irony is: once agnostic consultants are brought in, typically service provider costs comedown, service per se is amalgamated into a single manageable solution with but few inputs and – with streamlined ICT – its effectiveness in allowing for productivity and customer liaison can finally be legitimately gauged.
If you like a good analogy, ICT consultants are today’s version of the old circus lion tamers. Whip in hand, facing the beast of mobile costs and performance, their external expertise is a welcome outsourced solution for most companies.
The 5G IoT is coming, raining from the cloud
As if mobile devices (and their hundreds of millions in cost ownership issues with workers all over the world) wasn’t a big enough input for ICT, here comes the IoT looking for its animation to the looming 5G network. Quite apart from the massive endpoint overload that will now constitute ICT’s concern, there’s the novelty of the 5G network to factor in.
There are industries that are likely to accelerate their adoption of robotic AI where it suits their purposes more ideally, and ICT is going to find new currency here. When workers, customers, and every single production point in your process are all communicating－and they will－that’s ICT on steroids. The ICT arena is going to become significantly more voluminous and challenging, at least in terms of keeping comms flowing along a now heavily diversified (and often novel) set of channels.
Cloud solutions add another angle to ICT –and to its challenges.
While cloud security has remained tight and corporate fears of data loss have gone largely unfounded, the mere fact that there’s typically huge daily traffic into the cloud raises the bar on monitoring protocols and access security. Those are ICT concerns, too.
It’s easy to see how with every advance in ease of access – and the diverse modern data storage and usage platforms – ICT protocols must come to police and facilitate them.
ICT and IT support will likely morph into one
What’s does the future of ICT look like?
Well, aside from being a ‘less sexy’ cousin to the letters ‘IT’ for decades, ICT might just gain sufficient momentum to blur that distinction. It’s already blurred, of course－so much of ICT is officially an IT scenario, and many IT issues are equally concerned with ICT.
On ICT’s current watch, arrive the robots with artificial intelligence and disruptive abilities. The cloud will start to deliver its valuables along hitherto unimaginable routes, as Virtual Reality (VR) and holographic technology also threaten to mainstream into the commercial arena.
It’s an exciting time for ICT, and – though its acronym might morph soon to better depict its role in a business landscape that’s warping away from legacy commerce – it’s never been more relevant.
The future of ICT is bright
Indeed, it might be ICT that rises to be the principal contractor in the dawn of the age of AI, the midwife and shepherd to an unprecedented age of man.
While engineers and mechanics might have been able to service the demands of an automated plant or other highly mechanised business in times past, it will take ICT expertise to streamline and squeeze high performance out of a robotic workplace or suburban environment where robots and sensors aren’t just hard at work, but pulling intel from the cloud, communicating their progress to staff and customers, and constantly communicating along a synchronised timeline for a singular purpose.
Multiply that by a few thousand in the factory – or a few million in the case of a single smart city block equipped with IoT technology – and you can see where ICT is going.
Photo by Mario Caruso on Unsplash