ICT is a dumb piece of bureaucratic jargon that found its way into the technology mainstream.
I say dumb because it confuses matters and makes understanding unnecessarily difficult. The term is widely misused as a substitute for IT.
IT, or information technology, is readily understood. It refers to computers, software and all the other stuff used to create and process information. This includes the communications networks used to move information from one place to another.
Information technology can be complex, but we all know what it is when we see it.
ICT (information and communications technology) fails as a useful name because it isn’t clear and unambiguous. It is irritating and unnecessarily pompous.
The term is popular in some circles because it sounds more substantial than IT. Not because it adds meaning.
You could argue the word communications is redundant – after all most modern communications technologies are a sub-set of IT.
Blame public servants
It’s not surprising the term was first used by people in government. Pomposity is the public servants’ first language. But the term is creeping in elsewhere.
The Wikipedia entry for ICT gives a fairly detailed explanation of how the term is used as a synonym for IT but has a more general meaning that takes in telecommunications and other technologies.
We need a term to describe the bigger technical picture, but ICT is too much like IT and that leads to the two terms being confused.
ICT – We’ve been here before
In the late 1980s the term IT&T (information technology and telecommunications) was pushed as an alternative to IT. It was especially popular with Japanese companies that sold products into both sectors.
At the time there was much talk about convergence between IT and telecommunications. As expected the two industries converged and IT&T fell from favour.