Innovations from ICT — and the roll out of these technologies — touch every aspect of our lives. They are shaping political agendas and can help us achieve our development goals. Ahead of this Sunday’s ‘World Telecommunication & Information Society Day‘, PhD fellow Shuan SadreGhazi explains more on the links between ICT and innovation.
Innovations from ICT and the implementation of these technologies have pervaded different aspects of our lives. Look everywhere, you can see one way or another how ICT has really facilitated our lives. We need ICTs as a tool, as a catalyser, because for innovation you need information.
Once you gather information, you need to collaborate with others, you need to communicate with others: to interpret the information, to find out what are the opportunities for innovation. And then you need to find and leverage resources, you need to collaborate with other actors in different areas to push the innovation further. Often you need a platform to get all these things going on, and these are all things where ICT is really crucial and can play a wider role.
In the context of development, I would say the role of ICT should be even more highlighted, because there are certain limitations in developing countries where we need additional tools to go forward with innovation. For example in terms of infrastructure, there are difficulties in reaching the audience or those who are in need of the initiative.
Yet technology alone is not a panacea for innovation. You always need additional measures on the social and human aspects of innovation. For example, even if you have the best computer software and hardware to enhance teaching at schools in rural areas, if there is not a proper mentor, or a teacher who is trained to utilise those technologies for educating those students, the whole investment will be in vain. We have seen in several cases that despite smart ideas being behind ICT for innovation, the initiative has not delivered on its promises.
Another issue is with regulations. Specifically in developing countries, regulations tend to lag behind the development and roll out of ICT. For example, in the case of mobile banking, although it can be very useful to offer banking services to people who cannot normally have a bank account, we have seen several issues with regulation, preventing people from actually using these services.
In general ICT is just a tool to enhance innovation. At the end of the day, it deals with humans, so if we do not have the human components well integrated in this whole ecosystem, then we will face problems. It is crucial therefore to understand the context in which we are using or applying our innovations; only then can we make the most of their potential.