Information & Communication Technology 1996-2003

GCSE Revision

Applications & Effects

ICT is now a significant part of many day to day applications. Inevitably this will have an effect in many ways on industry, employment and consumers.

See also Social Effects of Information Systems


Consider the following applications of ICT as used at a checkout in a large modern supermarket of the 90's:

  • Each item is swiped over a bar code reader. The bar code is printed on the packaging by the manufacturer.
  • The computer looks up the current price listed against the bar code in a database.
  • Discounts or loyalty credits are taken care of.
  • The prices for all items are added up to provide a total - usually shown on a digital display.
  • The customer's debit card is scanned and the money is automatically transferred from the customer's bank account to the supermarket's account. If real cash is used then the correct amount of change is calculated.
  • An itemised receipt is printed.
  • Each item is automatically reordered from the warehouse via cable and made ready for the next delivery.
  • At a later stage various charts can be easily produced to compare monthly sales, calculate profits, etc.

This is how it was done in the 70's and is still done in small shops today, without the use of ICT:

  • Every item is priced individually using a sticky label put there by a shop worker - when prices change these have to be updated manually.
  • The sales assistant looks at each label and adds up the prices to provide a total, either mentally or using pen and paper.
  • He/she then takes money from the customer and calculates the amount of change required.
  • If a receipt is required it is hand written.
  • Every month all stock on the shelves is counted manually and new stock is ordered by mail or collected from the warehouse.
  • All cost analysis and charts are produced by hand from records written daily.

Effects of using ICT on the company:

  • Everything takes place much more quickly and efficiently.
  • The price of an item can be altered at any time simply be entering the new price against its bar code on the computer database.
  • There is much less chance of human error when performing calculations and handling money.
  • Less paperwork needs to be stored and information can be retrieved more easily.
  • Real money (cash) does not have to change hands, reducing the opportunity for theft.
  • ICT equipment is very expensive to purchase and maintain. If it breaks down there could be major problems continuing normal business.

Effects of using ICT on employment:

  • Initially fewer staff are needed but the shop can become bigger and more staff will then be needed.
  • Large numbers of typing, filing and price labelling staff no longer needed.
  • Staff need to be retrained or made redundant. Staff with new skills need to be appointed.
  • Staff involved in generating sales charts and accounts can work remotely or even from home.

Effects of using ICT on the customer:

  • Customers do not have to wait so long at the checkout.
  • More goods can be purchased at one time.
  • The customer does not need to carry any cash.
  • There is less chance of being wrongly charged or given the incorrect change.
  • Some shops provide bar code readers for the customer to use while they shop, saving more time at the checkout.
  • Goods may be purchased over the Internet, then either collected or delivered to your door.

BackUp Page last updated 30/03/2002 I.D.Lee, Didcot Girls' School
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