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Home > Industry Event > Information technology

Major Industry Trends
The term information technology (IT), sometimes called information and communications technology or ICT, encompasses a vast range of activities. These include:
- computer programming;
- computer consultancy;
- computer gaming;
- computer networking activities;
- computing facilities management;
- data processing;
- data hosting activities;
- internet service provision;
- telecommunications;
- web portals.

The sector is highly innovative and subject to constant technological development. It is also the source of dramatic changes in business practices in all other industrial sectors. Consumers and businesses now expect to be able to communicate with each other instantly and IT has driven huge increases in productivity in recent decades. A process of convergence has also been underway for some time between IT and telephony, driven by transforming voice traffic from an analogue signal to a digital packet, indistinguishable from other data packets travelling through a computer network.

Cloud computing services are now providing yet another catalyst for ICT convergence, and a revolution in the way businesses operate. Telecommunications carriers are gradually moving IT systems and internet data centers into the cloud, while uniform standards are being developed to speed rapid cloud development. One of the main advantages of cloud computing for businesses is that they no longer need to buy or maintain expensive and energy-draining servers. IT administration, including licensing issues, software updates, and IT security management, is looked after by the cloud computing provider. Cloud computing also allows a dispersed workforce to work effectively, and collaborate easily, even if they are stretched around the globe.

One other key trend is the integration of smart devices, which is changing the way consumers use their home devices (television sets, smartphones, and personal computers or PCs), and blurring the boundaries between these formerly separate industries. As a result of advances in smartphones and tablets, consumers are increasingly using these devices to access the internet. The difference between mobile phones and tablets is also blurring, with phones becoming mobile computers rather than simply a device for making calls or sending text messages.

Software subdivides into numerous specialist areas, from relational database technologies to enterprise applications, to “horizontal” office applications characterized by Microsoft Office, for example.

Somewhat off the main track of IT at present, but very much related to both increases in processor power, and to work in simulation and artificial intelligence, is the field of robotics. This lies outside the scope of this profile, but the linkages between robotics and IT are already transforming both manufacturing and defense.

In addition, the IT arena is characterized by a number of key trends and emerging technologies which, again, have the potential to transform the way businesses currently use IT and carry out their operations, for example, outsourcing IT services, such as desktop PC support, or whole IT-supported functions, such as accounts processing. In technology, the trend to virtualization refers to the ability of large servers to be subdivided into a number of virtual machines, which can be either virtual PCs or virtual servers.

Smart machines, 3D printing and digital business are just a few of the disruptions that are impacting business and IT. With so much change, IT leaders face a new set of realities moving forward.

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