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Communication through information technology has literally changed our lives. Some people will say that this is for the better. They say that because of IT, we are far more aware of what happens in the world, that it’s cost effective, that we can communicate easier with others, that IT has created more jobs and that it saves time in the long run.
Others say that our reliance on information technology is not always a good thing. They say that it has led to people losing their jobs, a lack of privacy, a lack of job security and a creation of a dominant culture in the form of America.
This report will look at both sides of the argument in more detail.
The world has become a much smaller place in recent years. This is largely due to the Internet. It has become much easier and cheaper to communicate with family and friends around the world using sites like Skype and social media networks such as Facebook or Google+.
The internet has also opened up the world of online shopping. In 2012, 43% of Irish consumers purchased online last year. 75% of these purchases were spent outside of Ireland (Farrelly, 2013). This surge in on-line shopping is not limited to downloading music through iTunes and the like but downloading books, purchasing electronics and clothes through sites such as Littlewoods or Amazon. The Chinese on-line market is seen as the new frontier for Irish shoppers to buy on-line with the price of the goods outweighing the waiting period for the product to be received.
Information Technology includes smartphones and tablets which have become extremely popular in the last number of years. Android and Apple are the largest manufacturers of smartphone and tablet operating systems. Over a billion phones and tablets use the Android operating system, making it the most popular in the world (Google.com, 2014). Apps on these operating systems include Skype which allows users to video call to messaging apps like WhatsApp which is an internet led messaging app that allows users to send group messages. All of these allow us to communicate faster, cheaper and easier than ever before.
E-mail has made it easier and faster to communicate with friends or colleagues throughout the world.
It has never been easier to communicate with family and friends around the world.
Letters and faxes to colleagues are being fast replaced by e-mail. E-mail allows users to easily communicate with colleagues or clients in a quick and efficient way. Delivery reports can be requested on some e-mails sent ensuring that the sender is aware when the e-mail has been delivered. Attachments can be sent with e-mails allowing for users to forward vital information to colleagues quickly. E-mails can be encrypted to ensure that information is not hijacked by others and can be easily stored in servers. Most computer systems are backed-up to servers nightly thus ensuring that e-mails are safely saved by the company.
Skype allows users to video call family and friends with ease. It is also used by businesses as a cost effective way to hold business meetings where the participants are not all in the same office. This is a cheap and easy to set up too.
Facebook and other social media sites allow users to post pictures and updates for their friends to view and comment on. Most social media networks will also allow users to message each other for free, allowing greater communication. Some such as Google+ allow users to video call each other too.
Social media also allows companies to communicate with their customers by updating their pages with pictures of new products, new shop openings and increasingly using it for customer complaints and comments with some of these going viral. Social media also lets companies upload how-to videos to help garner a larger customer base and increase hits to their website. A good and well managed social media presence can increase a customer base.
Information Technology has made the workplace easier to navigate than ever before. Mobile phones can be used to check your e-mails on your commute to work. Tablets can be used in presentations in business meetings. Both can be used to look up information needed in a meeting. Books and documents can be stored as references in meetings allowing for greater discussions and quicker replies in terms of business.
Almost all offices use computer technology to write and store letters sent to clients or colleagues. Computers can be networked together allowing for information to be stored in one overall source – the server. The server will also back up all information at the end of the day and may also transfer this data to an outside source thus ensuring that data will not be lost. By doing this, computers can work faster and ongoing work can be shared more easily with colleagues. It also makes it easier for work to be looked back on.
As Information Technology has brought the world together, it has helped us to understand and communicate with our neighbours in different cultures. The world has been open like it never has been before and we have all changed because of this.
It’s easier than it has ever been before to communicate with people from other countries. Skype even allows you to see each other in real time. This form of communication along with messaging apps and e-mail ensure that people can communicate and describe what is happening to them.
Technology has made it easier to learn new languages without having to go to classes to do so. You can subscribe to a learning webpage like Alison.com and learn new languages and skills for free. Other sites such as rosettastone.ie will let you learn a new language in a number of different ways such as through a CD Rom on your computer or through a downloadable version.
New technology and competition between airlines have also made it easier than ever before to travel to new countries and taste their culture such as Vietnam or India. More and more people are making such trips and communicating their trip to family and friends at home through messages and pictures.
Information Technology especially in terms of e-commerce has allowed people to shop and bank on-line at a time that suits them. Being able to do a range of chores on-line such as paying bills or getting quotes for your car insurance allows people to do other things on their lunch break. There is less stress for people using up lunch breaks allowing them to do other things. Employers will find this as a benefit as it allows for greater productivity at work.
On-line shopping and price comparison websites allow people to look for the items they may need, compare websites and read reviews of the products to ensure they are getting what they want allow for people to get their shopping done quicker. Many people may wish to look for big electrical goods on-line. They might check out all the shops for price comparison, check out reviews on different sites. Spending a little time doing this and focusing on the product they really want, saves a lot of time in the shop discussing your needs with the sales assistant. Some individuals will however, purchase the item on-line and have it delivered to their home.
Information Technology has opened up new job opportunities for mechanically minded people. There are many different types of jobs out there in Information Technology ranging from Software Engineering where an individual would create programs and apps for computers and smartphones to hardware engineering where the computers and smartphones would be built.
There are jobs in maintenance where an individual may maintain a network of computers in an office. This could also be considered network engineering. Jobs can also be found in customer services where the end customer is helped with any problems they might have with their software or hardware. For example Amazon has started to use this with their Fire Tablets and Phone. The newer versions of the tablet and the phone have a button that will connect the user to a customer service representative that will help them with any problems they may have using the device.
The dominance of Information Technology could lead to larger unemployment in some instances. As was mentioned above, the office environment has changed dramatically with the introduction and development of computer systems. Computer systems have made letter writing easier and faster, allow for complex spreadsheets to be created and updated and for databases to be easily created. A lot of these systems allow for items from other programs to be easily inputted. E-mail has allowed for a significant amount of lessening in the postal system. This has led to a lessening in the number of people needed to work in an office.
In an article called How Technology is Destroying Jobs, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, contend that robot technology is taking jobs from ordinary workers. Studies contend that robots work alongside the workers to assist them in jobs they are unable or unwilling to do. In a lot of cases, such as Amazon’s use of robots (the Kiva) to bring products to the workers in order for them to be packaged have resulted in people unwilling to do the job. Brynjolfsson and McAfee concluded that technology is widening the gap between the lower skill workers whose jobs are safe as they cannot be completed by robots and the high tech jobs where the technology is being developed is widening and it shows no sign of slowing down (Rotman, 2013).
Technology companies acquire other companies in order to adopt the technology that has been developed. In doing so this has often led to redundancies and job losses in the company acquired. A case in point is Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia. Microsoft purchased Nokia in February 2014 in order to branch out into the mobile technology sector. In July of this year, it announced that it was to cut 18,000 jobs from its workforce worldwide (Anon., 2014). Coincidentally, Nokia have just announced that they are creating a new tablet, the N1 that runs on the Android operating system, not 6 months after selling their devices division (Rosendahl, Jussi, 2014).
Privacy is a big issue when it comes to Information Technology. Information Technology in itself is not secure and there is a big industry involved in securing it. Most people will download anti-virus software to run on their home computers to try and stop viruses from attacking their files and destroying them or having their photos etc. hacked from their computers.
With cloud technology, it’s more important than ever for companies to ensure their servers are safe from hackers in order to keep their clients information private. As can be seen from the hack of Apple’s cloud and the distribution of female celebrities private photo’s, this is not always achieved.
As people are living their lives through technology, it’s often the case that their information is being linked and kept by companies. Take for example Google. It’s search engine is the biggest in the world, it’s Android operating system for mobile phones and tablets is the most used operating system in the world, it’s Gmail e-mail system is highly popular as is the popularity of its new Chromebook. That is a lot of information on individuals for one company to have. It is vital that the company lives up to the trust that people are placing in it by keeping their information private and free from abuse. The company runs hacks on it’s systems itself regularly trying to infiltrate the computer software and take down systems. It does this to help with privacy.
Technology keeps moving at an exponential rate with new devices and ideas released continuously. The two biggest operating systems for mobile phones and tablets, Apple and Samsung, launch new updates or new versions of their systems annually. Microsoft, the largest operating system manufacturer for computers and their office software, update their systems constantly with new operating systems being launched every few years.
This moving technology means that people who work in the technology industry will constantly have to keep learning and adapting to new systems in order for them to be employable in today’s job market. New ideas are the lifeblood of the technology job market. Innovation is the key to success but the technology often moves faster than the ideas can be generated and launched. This has resulted in a lack of job security for everyone who works in the technology industry.
A case could easily be brought that America is the dominant culture, especially in English speaking countries.
As the world is becoming a smaller place and news from around the world is at our fingertips either at the nearest computer or even our smartphones, it is a lot easier to become aware and even copy the culture coming from America.
Ireland as a whole has always looked up to and copied in our own way the culture that comes from America. This could be because so many of our ancestors emigrated there and adapted to the culture. American television shows have been historically shown in Ireland which has increased this love we have for their culture. This coupled with the dominance of American movies in our box office has helped to secure the dominance of America as the dominant culture especially in this part of the world.
With the emergence of the internet and our ability to get information on what is going to happen in our favourite television shows, this dominance has just increased. Nowadays, we can be only days behind America in airing some of these shows.
Because of this dominance of America, we are also a lot more aware of how they dress, speak and what they listen to. You only have to look at teenagers of today to see how they are influenced. Their style and music listened to is very similar to what they see on television.
Information technology has changed our world. That is not the issue. Whether it has been for the best or for the worst, is the question.
We as a people have always strived to do better; after all we developed the wheel and have since travelled into space. Is continuing to create and develop better technology not part this? I believe so but not at the loss of our privacy. This is the fundamental disadvantage of using information technology in my opinion, and the one companies are striving to correct. WhatsApp announced in November 2014 that their messaging service will be encrypted end-to-end. This will assure users that even the company itself will not be able to read the message. But is our privacy sacrosanct? Should it be abandoned if we take part in criminal activity such as terrorism or even bullying? As technology is growing faster than our laws and since the jurisdiction for crime could be in question, this question will be asked for years to come.
Anon., 2014. Microsoft to cut 18,000 jobs worldwide. [Online] Available at: http://www.irishtimes.com/business/sectors/technology/microsoft-to-cut-18-000-jobs-worldwide-1.1869354 [Accessed 27 11 2014].
Farrelly, J., 2013. How Businesses Ise eCommerce in Ireland: Top Take Aways. [Online] Available at: http://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/ie/blog/how-businesses-use-ecommerce-in-ireland-top-take-aways/# [Accessed 25 11 2014].
Google.com, 2014. android.com. [Online] Available at: http://www.android.com/phones-and-tablets/ [Accessed 12 October 2014].
Rosendahl, Jussi, 2014. Nokia aims for better health with its iPad-rivalling tablet. [Online] Available at: http://www.independent.ie/business/technology/news/nokia-aims-for-better-health-with-its-ipadrivalling-tablet-30755795.html [Accessed 19 11 2014].
Rotman, D., 2013. How Technology is Destroying Jobs. [Online] Available at: http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/515926/how-technology-is-destroying-jobs/ [Accessed 27 11 2014].