While IT stands for "information technology," ICT stands for "information and communications technology." One of the acronyms has a "C," while the other one doesn't, and the C, which represents communications, is the whole difference between IT and ICT. While these two tech-oriented fields share a whole lot of content in common, the difference between IT and ICT is a lot more subtle than their many similarities. Start with an understanding of IT as your foundation, as ICT is an extension of IT.
ICT vs. IT: Defining IT
Information technology, or IT, is all about the collecting, processing and sharing of – wait for it – information. The field of IT deals largely with the methods and tools used in said collecting, processing and sharing. These methods and tools include coding and programming, data conversion, means of storage and retrieval, and system analysis and design, among others.
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When someone says they work in IT, they're name-dropping a broad field that can include a wide range of professions, including network administration, computer support, computer science, system analysis, programming and more. In its modern usage, IT often specifically refers to the information technology that keeps businesses running and connected such as internal servers, web marketing and business software, which IT experts work to develop and maintain.
ICT vs. IT: Defining ICT
As an extension of information technology, the field of information communications technology includes everything that IT includes but expands the scope. When dealing with ICT, computer science comes in to play just as much as the collection, processing and sharing of data.
ICT puts an immediate emphasis on connective communication technologies. This field hones in on the communications technology that connects the IT world, specifically telecommunications. In the 21st century, ICT is especially focused on how wireless signals and the internet drive communication and enable the spread of data.
Deeper Into Differences
In general, IT refers to local information technologies, such as the worlds of private business servers and customized information infrastructures that keep corporations and governments operational on the tech side of things. In contrast, ICT's tech is more expansive, with a greater focus on outreach, community building and a desire to explore the ways in which telecommunications can enrich society. On a macro level, imagine that IT is your home's collection of immobile appliances, providing heat vents and water faucets inside the house, while ICT is the collection of pipes and wires that bring the electricity and water into the home.
There's no need to beat yourself up if you don't find the differences between IT and ICT immediately apparent, though, as the labels entail a certain amount of subjectivity. Don't be surprised if you hear IT and ICT used interchangeably often, especially as the business world makes moves toward an always-online state. It's not out of the question for the more telecom-leaning ICT to become the new norm or the new word for information technologies in general.