The Collaborate Series: Chapter 5 – What Is The Importance Of ICT In An Office?

The importance of ICT in an office

The acronym “ICT” can be defined in dauntingly broad terms; standing for information and communications technology (or technologies), ICT refers to “the infrastructure and components that enable modern computing”, as explained in an article on the TechTarget website.

However, such is the considerable reach of ICT that a single, universal definition has long escaped it. Any definition that does exist has been largely formed through general consensus, but the term is usually deemed to refer to all devices, networking components, applications and systems which, in combination, enable both people and organisations to interact in digital form.

As such, ICT plays a crucial role in workplace communication in both the public and private sectors. This importance has continued to grow, but particular implications apply when ICT is implemented in an office. In this article, we will look at various ways in which ICT can enhance an office’s flexibility.

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The meaning of ICT also continues to grow

It can pay not to confuse ICT with IT – or information technology, as it is otherwise known. While the terms ICT and IT are sometimes used interchangeably, ICT is often used in reference to a broader and more detailed list of components associated with computer and digital technologies.

Indeed, ICT does not just cover the internet-enabled sphere to which many organisations, including office-based businesses, are accustomed. The term also takes in the mobile sphere running on wireless networks, while such antiquated, albeit still widely used, technologies as landline telephone networks and radio and television broadcasting infrastructure also fall under the ICT banner.

However, it is in the more cutting-edge elements of ICT, like artificial intelligence and robotics, where the more impressive and groundbreaking evolutions and refinements are taking effect. Over time, more and more ICT components have been added to the list.

Today, that list is exhaustive; it includes not only staples like computers and telephones but also more modern smartphones and robots. However, ICT components can vary in their relevance to the office environment, where they can combine to impressive effect.

 

ICT can feed into better decision-making

With huge amounts of data at a company’s disposal, ICT systems would let that business store, process, analyse and share it. This can prove particularly beneficial to managers and employees, who can make decisions both promptly and accurately on the back of this data.

Tasks with which the data can help them include efficiently managing operations and reacting quickly as new opportunities or threats emerge on the corporate horizon. Even in instances where personnel are called upon to make decisions jointly with staff based in different locations, this is possible due to the communication networks underpinning ICT, as the Bizfluent website explains.

 

Examples of customer-friendly communications technology

One area in which it is especially important for staff to make wise decisions is that of customer service. Fortunately, with a variety of devices and infrastructure – including computers and online systems – fitted in just one office, staff can deliver timely responses to customer queries.

Your staff and customers can exchange information in real time over email and live chat. Furthermore, these employees can increase the speed of their responses while still improving the quality of customer service. For example, they could, as required, quickly dip into databases filled with such in-depth customer information as their purchase history and product preferences.

With this data at hand, these workers could resolve customer inquiries more quickly and efficiently and so drive up customer satisfaction. With such databases accessible even via smartphones, staff could continue effectively handling customer queries even as they leave the office for business trips.

As they do, it would be beneficial for them to use a business-specific mobile data service like Gamma Mobile. Such scalable services can be expanded and updated it in a timely fashion, while you don’t have to worry about consumer traffic potentially slowing down the network as your staff use it.

 

A communication system for effective exchanges within the company

As organisations have gained access to information communication technologies (ICT) in various forms, this has opened up exciting new possibilities for how they can effectively carry out their office work. It has, for example, assisted in smoothing communications between managers and staffers.

Traditionally, disrupted communication lines between these tiers of the company have often led operations to break down. However, ICT has healed such discrepancies by giving employees direct access to management right around the clock, enabling various issues to be addressed more quickly.

These issues have touched on subjects including production methods and product delivery. While staffers can still converse by email or phone, they can also communicate by video chat, enabling them to “literally ‘show’ what they are talking about”, as Business 2 Community points out.

Similarly, video conferencing can prove effective in fostering fruitful collaboration further down the company. For example, through video or web conferencing, virtual meetings can be held for conversations with people outside the company, like suppliers and business partners.

This arrangement has a wealth of benefits, such as strengthening project teams and allowing workers to progress apace with crucial projects. These workers are not required to put those important projects on hold in a wait for collaborators to meet up in one physical location.

ICT has even accelerated improvements in HR software solutions, significantly easing the scheduling and tracking of human resources and jobs. Many tasks that required hours to finish manually have been streamlined, while HR software also lets HR staff effectively schedule work hours and breaks.

In this way, the software has given HR staff more time for face-to-face meetings with employees. It has also enabled the staff to schedule time for paid training – and, on that subject…

 

ICT has allowed for ongoing training

Many office-based businesses can benefit from regularly putting their staff through training to keep their skills refined and competitive. However, traditionally, arranging training has been, from a financial standpoint, significantly costly for businesses.

Many monetary resources used to be expended on sending workers to seminars and workshops where they would undertake job-related training. Advanced training would be particularly expensive, with staff sent to remote seminars or industry experts brought in for on-site training.

Fortunately, however, many of the expensive barriers to ongoing employee training have been lifted with the increasing implementation of ICT. Now, through the means of telecommunications and video conferencing, training can be provided through online-ready devices. This has paved the way for an especially convenient environment in which employees can be trained cost-effectively.

 

With ICT, office firms can identify room for financial improvement

As your office-based organisation peruses the communication tools at its disposal with ICT, it could recognise more and more strategies for saving money. Following through with these strategies could help you to trim costs while boosting revenue and profitability.

Consider how using video conferencing to facilitate meetings between people in disparate physical locations could see you saving money on travel. Meanwhile, if your staff can, in scrutinising production data, pick up on quality issues, then waste and reworking costs could both fall as a result.

Members of your sales department could even notice, in customer databases, information helpful in unearthing valuable opportunities for promoting particular products or services. Should your sales staff act well on these opportunities, appreciable increases in revenue could result.

In combination, cost savings and revenue increases can be influential in boosting your firm’s overall profits. However, there remain many other tantalising possibilities for how ICT could further evolve to the benefit of various companies this century.

With future growth possible in areas of ICT including 3D communications and remote printing, it will be intriguing to see what the approaching years and decades hold for ICT.

Implementing a unified communications (UC) solution like such as Horizon Collaborate can inject your office technology with the speed necessary to attract millennials, who are set to form the modern workforce’s largest generation. Horizon Collaborate makes a truly future-proof solution.

Read about the benefits of Unified Communications and how it can help improve an enterprises efficiency and tackle the challenges of the future. 

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1 October 2019 | Neil Taylor

The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.