Capabilities And Limitations Of ICT

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3.1.5 Capabilities and limitations of ICT

An Overview

IT systems are able to :-

1. Carry out fast repetitive processing. They cannot do things that have not been programmed into them. Hence the human brain is needed to design the solution to the problem but the computer can carry out the process much faster.
2. Provide vast storage capacity.
3. Search or combine data in many different ways which would otherwise be impossible.
4. Respond to feedback eg from sensors so that temperature or light conditions can be varied accordingly. Examples of this might be: a greenhouse with windows that open automatically when a certain temperature is reached lights that come on at dusk when the light level reduces a multi-storey car park sensor that counts the cars in and out, displaying messages when there are spaces, or when the car park is full from sales, or use so that optimum stock levels can be maintained eg a bar code is swiped when an item sold at the till, this will reduce the stock level, but also alert staff when the stock level is too low or shelves are becoming empty.
5. Do what they are told very accurately, over and over again, repetitively and without making mistakes – providing, of course, the original instructions and data were correct!
Information Processing involves Input, Processing, Output and Feedback.
Input entails the capture of raw data from the organisation or from it external environment. An example could be when barcodes are being scanned at a supermarket checkout.
Processing entails converting raw data into a form which is useful. This could be where the number from the barcode is used to identify and price the products and to calculate the total cost.
Output entails transferring processed information to people who will use it. Outsputs at a supermarket checkout include the beep which confirms that a product has been scanned accurately, the VDU for customer and assistant so that they can see what has been scanned and the receipt which is printed out.
Feedback is output which is returned to appropriate members of the organisation to help them refine or correct the input phase.
As a computer can only ‘do what it is told’ the quality of the output depends entirely on the quality of the input, hence the expression
Garbage In Garbage Out (GIGO)

The advantages of ICT over manual methods of processing data:

Repetitive processing eg copy and paste (most applications) replication of formulae (spreadsheets) styles (most applications) style sheets (web authoring packages) headers/footers and master pages (WP and DTP) formatting tools and format painter (most applications) automated functions such as templates, wizards and macros

Speed of processing eg searching sorting retrieval of information automated functions such as templates, wizards and macros

Data storage capacity eg able to store large quantities of information efficient retrieval of data speed of processing affected by amount of RAM (Random Access Memory) accessibility of data by many people via shared areas and networks

Speed of searching eg find and find and replace (most applications) use of search criteria (database, spreadsheet, operating system) key words and search strings

Accuracy eg spell checking grammar checking validation and verification techniques

Speed of data communications eg e-mail fax the Internet text messaging satellite links video conferencing
SATNAV (satellite navigation)
LANs and WANs (Local Area and Wide Area networks)
Cable and satellite TV teletext The ability to produce different output formats eg data from a database presented as report or chart/graph data from a spreadsheet presented in table or graphical form portability of data eg export from Excel in CSV format to be read by another type of spreadsheet export data from Word in RTF (rich text format) to be transferred to Mac application

Hardware factors that limit an IT system are :-

Hardware - It must have sufficient RAM (Random Access Memory):