Think of the wrath of customers queuing for service either in financial institutions or elsewhere, when there is a malfunction of the information systems or think of a world without the information systems and at least one gets an idea of the extent of the use of information technology. Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by microelectronics- based combination of computing and telecommunications (Rainer & Cegielski 2011). A variety of functions are included in Information technology such as data management, networking, and computer hardware engineering, database and software design.
The integrations of other technologies such as automobiles, televisions, use of cell phones, and more, are widening the scope of information technology. “Information technology today is not just a luxury available in some homes, schools, or offices… many aspects of our daily lives depend on high-quality information technology” (Schwalbe, 2009, p. 293). From learning in schools to producing and distributing foods and other products, and other day-to-day activities, to more complicated activities, the use of information technology cannot be underestimated.
The use of information technology stretches to even most-critical systems such as navigation systems, medical equipment and security systems. The entertainment industry is not left behind, with the uses of information technology results to the growing of the industry in riches and bounds thanks to innovative applications of information technology and systems. As information technology use becomes a critical factor and a necessity in everyday activities, my essay expounds more on these uses of information technology and systems.
Use of Information Technology in business
Information technology is transforming the way business is done in today’s world. Information technology helps in problem solving and increases the scope of business. For instance, it has helped in increasing productivity in businesses globally. Using computer programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint saves time and effort in writing documents and data information. This minimizes cost of running business and increases productivity. Clients and customer’s information including their names, contacts, social security numbers and other confidential information can be stored in a database and assign usernames and passwords for logging in to access the information. This ensures confidentiality and ease of accessibility.
In production of goods and services, computer- aided manufacturing uses computer to control the machinery, increasing accuracy and speed, and also reducing labor costs. Computer-integrated manufacturing is where computers control the whole production line reducing the need for human labor to perform the routine manufacturing tasks. To reduce the need of building physical testing models, computers are used to help design products using computer generated models and 3D drawings.
The internet can be used to communicate with customers, suppliers and other business players throughout the world through use of websites and email. This is known as E-commerce, which enlarges the market and the business hours are not limited. The customers also have a wide range of products and services, as well as shopping deals for new products. A good example is the official figures of Chinese online revenues in 2004, dominated by B2B e-commerce, where 40% of Chinese internet users stated to have engaged in e-commerce in previous 12 months (OECD, 2006).
Organizational employees, ranging from clerical workers to the executives derive a lot of support from use of information systems. This include in bookkeeping, day-to-day operations of the organizations, assigning of tasks, placing purchase orders, short-term planning among other uses of information needed or integrated into the business, significantly changing the manner in which business is done. For instance, all these information, assist the executives in introducing new product lines, relocating operations, and acquiring other businesses (Rainer & Cegielski 2011)
Information Technology bonding with a lot of creativity has created an elixir that has transformed the entertainment experience. It has become the means to the end as creative content is increasingly handled in digital form. The process of capturing, storing, manipulating, duplicating and delivering the content to the target audience has been simplified. (Screen, 2001)The entertainment industry has therefore been one of the greatest beneficiaries of the rise in use and application of information technology. There is simple and easy accessibility of entertainment products like movies, games, music and variety of books, especially through use of digital technology.
For instance, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development “China has the World’s fastest-growing online games market with estimated revenues of USD 580 million in 2005” (OECD) In addition, computer Animation and Graphics is one of latest technologies in entertainment industry. It involves delivery of continuous frames creating the illusion of motion to the viewers, which can be two dimensional (2D), or three dimensional animations (3D), in which sequences with better depth are portrayed. The use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), peer-to-peer (P2P), downloading software and blogging has also grown rapidly of late.
Information technology contributes to health sector in strategic planning to reduce costs. This is in development of continuum of care and improving the quality of service to patients and physicians. A strategic and thoughtful investment in information technology improves the ability of health care organizations to achieve desired organizational returns. For instance, information technology is used in coordination of activities in a health organization. The task performers are able to relay information fast and effectively amongst themselves. Also, bulky health records can now be easily and safely stored, and their accessibility is also made easy. This could include patient records for referral and so on. This has made health information management an important integral part of health care organization. It is inextricably bound up with transformations in health care practices.
The latest Telemedicine technology, ranging from remote patient monitoring to teleconferencing is saving a lot of money in the health sectors globally. There are also devices that capture personal health information in an electronic health IT infrastructure. These include diagnostic equipment, X-ray, MRI, monitors, etc.
How Information Technology/System enhance Learning
Somekh and Davis assert that learning involves “intellectual excitement and emotional commitment but it is also an ‘act’ involving practical skills.” And that use of “a variety of learning tools- including IT – have been an integral part of our learning.” (Somekh & Davis 1997 p. 1). Use of information systems and technology has become an integral part in learning. Some complicated problems, previously considered of higher levels can now be handled at lower stages, due to introduction of gadgets, from a simple calculator to an advanced computer. The tools used in learning are deliberate and proceeds in the full understanding of the power of the tool, its generative capacity, and demands made on the user during the learning period. Information technology helps in handling information increasing its authenticity and quality of its presentation. For example, “information-handling software can search, sort and represent information in graphs and charts, dealing with a range of media including pictures and sound” (Somekh & Davis 1997 p18).
The use of IT tool means reduced attention to memory and calculation while speed and accuracy is increased. This gives a chance to use of creativity. For example use of spreadsheets to operate a high level of abstraction, use of computers in various ways, like, as a measuring tool, plotting graphs, etc. Initiatives based on Information Technology that allow visualization of complex phenomena, such as three-dimensional structures, broaden the range of learning styles. The needs and learning styles of individual students can be easily accommodated by the instructor by use of Information Technology. For instance, use of Just in Time Teaching (Novak, Patterson, and Gavrin cited by Hilton, 2002 p. 78)
Learning, especially at the higher level, has been made accessible to many people throughout the world, by use of Information Technology. There are, today, online courses offered through the internet, and therefore one needs not to be physically present in a classroom setting to acquire education. The virtual learning or distance learning, has provided opportunities not only to the learners but also to the instructors, and thus a platform where knowledge is disseminated and benefitting both parties involved.
Visual mimicry and manipulation through access of images of works of practitioners in the arts through virtual museums and galleries on the World Wide Web and CD ROM has been supported by IT. In addition, it gives an opportunity to reflect on the development of artistic processes by comparing its potential with other media and techniques. (McFarlane A 1997)
Electronic monitoring and tracking systems by use of the global positioning systems (GPS), is also an advancement of information system and technology. This enables correctional personnel to track down offenders and as a guide to specific locations when the GPS is used in patrol cars. Information technology has also been a major part of modernization and reforming of the justice systems the world over to increase effectiveness and speed of service delivery. It also helps to move law enforcement closer to the goal of accurate recovery of historical information and identification of culprits. This capacity of the police and other justice system agencies depends in their advancement of information technology. For instance, according to Pattavina, “the introduction of digital technology in the courts has expanded to digital evidence presentation systems.” (Pattavina 2005 p. 15). This has assisted in instant display of exhibits by the legal teams by use of DVD players, laptop computers videocassette recorders (VCRs), printers, and document cameras.
In addition, the advent of the closed-caption television (CCTV) has helped the courts in respecting the constitutional rights of offenders while at the same time avoiding causing further trauma to victims. The use of CCTV allows victims of abuse and assault, especially the young, to present evidence without necessarily appearing in the same room with the accused. However, the CCTV has over the years been in use in interrogation rooms, in police cars, access points in government buildings etc to capture scenes which could be useful in conducting investigations. According to Pattavina, “Arguably the most valuable application of networking technology has led to integrated justice information systems.” Thus, time and money has been saved, quality of data improved, and timely, accurate access to information sharing ensured. Also police-community relations have been enhanced by use of effective websites in disseminating information. (Pattavina A 2005).
Computer technologies enhance the ability of security agencies in uncovering wrong-doing, like underpaid tax by use of automated fingerprints. In a matter of a few minutes, an automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS) computer can compare a new fingerprint with a vast file of prints and make identifications, previously only possible through a tedious manual process. Thus, a substantial increase in speed and accuracy is realized. There is also a considerable interest in using computer technologies to improve abilities to analyze and share the results of DNA tests. Linked photographic and telecommunications technologies are also being used to transmit prints to an AFIS. (Genetic.. 1990). DNA test evidence is authentic and used in serious cases like rape and other crimes.
Use of Information Technology/System in Communication
In modern society, the traditional communication systems, are being complemented or integrated with support systems, expert systems and groupware, referring to technology supporting, for example, electronic mail, video-conferencing, mobile calling, and flexible command and control systems. It is more adequate today to speak of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), an advanced form of IT that incorporates more aspects, like inter-organizational networking, outsourcing of activities, etc
Computing and networking technology aides communication in many ways; use of e-mail, video conferencing which involves simulating and synchronizing communication to relay information, thus providing interpersonal communication with geographical constraints removed. Also, there is intranet communication within the organization. There has been use of communication technology to access information, manipulate, transform, and exchange it. E-mail, instant messaging and other ICT tools had been designed originally for communication purposes, but eventually turned into information tools. All types of information can now be shared through the web including pictures, etc. There is, also, more and easier communication as the information technology and systems develop. This is evidenced by the influx of many social network sites, online games, video-sharing sites, and so on. (Harris 2008)
From the above discussion, then it can be concluded that Information Technology and Systems is an important, integral part of the modern society, without which, life would seemingly be incomplete. From learning in schools to producing and distributing foods and other products, and other day-to-day activities, to more complicated activities, the use of information technology cannot be underestimated. The use of information technology stretches to even most-critical systems such as navigation systems, medical equipment and security systems. This is in regard to the role it plays in almost all key aspects of life. And this indicates that the extent of the use of information technology is unlimited and has no equal substitution.