Any news article written about IT trends today is very likely to be about ‘electronics’ and ‘digital transformation’ to be featured greatly. And yet there is confusion over what this really means. It has been misappropriated by a few, changing everyone’s understanding. It may be used for anything from tech change to new program releases, or, even more cringe worthy to describe any IT focused project. We have seen this happen before, with terms in news articles like intelligence, network performance management, and the word cloud being misinterpreted by some news articles. However, the difference is that all of those conditions have clear definitions laid down by industry bodies: for instance, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) defined cloud a decade ago.

The challenge with ‘electronic’ lies in the absence of any obvious industry news definition. Observationally, the term will be used in two different ways as outlined below:

The first relates to the use of IT for something, such as ‘digital program’, ‘digital banking’ or ‘digital journalism’. These work nicely in subject areas where IT and non-IT versions are both easily available, distinguishing one from the other. However, in regards to IT-specific contexts, we may safely assume analogue computing isn’t being considered, so the term digital is effectively redundant.

The second relates to an older use of this expression and is perhaps more enlightening. Since the dot-com boom companies have been changing their main customer interfaces to be more electronic in nature, replacing face-to-face, telephone and postal communications with web sites, mobile programs and text messages. This has more recently expanded from IT and internet enablement to more cultural shift, together with the incidence of social networking, chat bots and large data analytics.

Similarly, we have seen the development of the term ‘digital workspace’ in which implements IT to provide more flexibility and agility from the interfaces between an organisation and its employees, which makes it feasible to safely operate from anywhere. The term ‘electronic’ can definitely apply to those transformations within an organisation’s interfaces with its customers, employees, partners and suppliers. These electronic transformations are also moving deeper into the IT solution space so as to fulfill such user-centric requirements. By way of instance, customers expect rapid change and personalisation to match their requirements. They will not tolerate performance failings from demand-supply gaps and anticipate direct access in their own terms.

Given these challenges it is no great revelation that cloud models are the standard for electronic transformations since they supply the agility, flexibility and modularity to be required. Indeed, many believe private cloud computing is necessary for electronic transformation. But that does not simply imply any movement to the cloud is an electronic transformation. Surprisingly though, it is possibly the redundant use of the term ‘digital transformation’ that really should be applied here, to remind us that cloud adoption, but not necessarily satisfying a digital schedule, is transformational in nature.

Adopting a transformation mindset
This is most easily achieved by first taking the time to develop the plan and business case, ensuring that they reflect the suitable strategic objectives and target gains. Both might have to be revised to change from an outsourcing mindset into a transformational one.

Defining a clearer future
Similar things apply to electronic transformations. Without confusing one with the other, it has to work closely and obviously with the company in both situations. Utilizing a common and well-understood language is essential. Consequently, if we connect ‘cloud’ with transformation, and just use ‘electronic’ for all those initiatives addressing the important business ports, everything will become much clearer within news terms.


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