Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, William Schmarzo, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, @ThingsExpo, @DevOpsSummit

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Dispelling Three Flawed Myths of Digital Technology | @CloudExpo #DL #IaaS #Cloud #Blockchain

Nobody agrees on just what constitutes digital technology

Digital transformation. Digital strategy. Digital leadership. Digital enterprise. Digital customer journey.

It seems the list of things that have gone digital is unending and remarkably broad.

Underlying all of these intertwined digital concepts? Unquestionably, some kind of technology.

Digital technology.

Just one problem: nobody agrees on just what constitutes digital technology. And without a grasp on what technologies are digital - or more to the point, what technologies are not digital - we've built our entire digital edifice on a foundation of sand.

Ones and Zeroes
We can all agree that the broadest definition of digital technology would be technology that uses ones and zeroes to represent data. After all, bits - aka binary digits - are where we got the word digital in the first place.

Using this definition, digital technology launched on Valentine's Day in 1946, with the introduction of ENIAC.

Yes, digital technology is 1940s technology. More memory, bigger storage, and faster networks have multiplied the speed and power of ENIAC untold billions of times over - but by this definition of digital technology, there's nothing particularly new or special, just more of the same. Move right along, nothing to see here.

The obvious conclusion from this argument is that we mean something different by digital technology today than we did in the 1940s. Not just more and faster, but intrinsically different somehow. Otherwise digital wouldn't be on the tip of every desperate executive's tongue 71 years later.

Let us not chuck out our venerable bits-based definition of digital so fast, however. During those seven decades, many technologies have navigated the transition from analog to digital - forming periodic digital transformations that may seem quaint today, but were disruptive at the time.

Transistor radios hit the market in the 1950s, but digital radio technology didn't roll out until the 1960s as communication satellites became the disruptive technology of their day.

Digital broadcasting, however, had to wait until the 1990s, thus spurring the rise of digital radio receivers and digital televisions in the 2000s.

Meanwhile, compact disk (CD) technology brought digital audio to the masses in the 1980s, but let us not forget the brief heyday of digital vinyl LPs in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Clearly, digital technology has been causing disruptions all along. Again - nothing particularly new here.

Narrowing Down the Definition
Digital communications satellites, digital broadcasting, digital TVs, and CDs were all disruptive digital technologies of their day - and all essentially represented moving from an analog technology to one dependent on moving bits around.

When we use the phrase digital technology today, however, we're generally not referring to the transition from analog to digital. After all, enterprises have been pushing bits around for most of the seven decades since ENIAC. We're still missing the proper context.

Perhaps the missing context is the customer?

Given today's customer-focused context for digital, many people jump to the opposite extreme from our bit-pushing definition of digital technology. For them, digital technology is technology that end-users directly interact with, including both the hardware and the software.

This definition of digital technology may be narrower than our more general one, but it's still rather broad. In this context, smartphones and their apps are at the eye of the digital technology storm, but the term encompasses any software-based technology with a user interface, from microwave ovens to digital signage.

This definition of digital technology as user-facing, software-based technology is perhaps the most prevalent definition in use today.

A recent Harvard Business Review report, for example, defines digital organizations as "organizations where most of the products depend upon digital technologies." And while the report doesn't specifically define digital technologies, it's clear from the overall context of the report that it is using the narrower definition above.

In fact, you can find examples of people either explicitly or implicitly relying on this definition of digital technology all over the digital landscape.

What do most digital consultancies do? Typically, build web sites and mobile apps. What do most digital initiatives entail? Putting better software-based technology into the hands of users. And so on, ad nauseam.

The Problem with Narrow Definitions
You may be thinking to yourself at this point in the Cortex that this narrower definition of digital technology represents the modern definition. Well, sorry to disappoint - there's a massive problem with this definition: what it excludes.

For example, here is a list of modern, innovative technologies that would fall outside our narrow definition of digital, because none of them are user-facing.

Blockchain. Flash memory. Virtualization. Integration-as-a-Service. And while we're at it, let's throw in an entire category of open source projects, like Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark.

All of these technologies unquestionably involve moving bits around, so they obviously fall under our seven-decade old, broader definition of digital. That's not up for debate.

But none of these technologies are user-facing - at least, without adding some kind of visualization layer to them. And if we do that, the visualization layer - not the underlying technology - would be the digital component.

All of a sudden, we're on shaky ground here. Clearly, blockchain and the rest are all digital technologies! And while we're at it, cognitive computing, deep learning, and dozens of others whose user-facingness is debatable.

Fair enough, we need to widen our definition. Other than the bit-pushing part of the story, then, what do our list of potentially excluded technologies all have in common?

They are innovative. So, is ‘innovative' part of our definition of digital technology?

Frying pan, meet fire. If all we mean by digital technology is innovative technology - and to be sure, many vendors do - then we have just committed the mother of all digital-washing faux pas.

True, much of the innovation in enterprise technology is digital in some fashion, but on the great Venn diagram of technology concepts, digital technology and innovative technology only overlap. Neither one is included in the other.

We have to do better.

The Intellyx Take: Putting the Customer at the Center
The problem with our narrower definition of digital technology isn't simply that it's too narrow. The problem is that user-facing doesn't encompass the true essence of digital.

At Intellyx, we define ‘digital' as customer preferences and behavior drive enterprise technology decisions. The customer comes first, and the only reason technology is involved at all is because customers demand technology-based products and services from the companies they do business with.

Furthermore, the only way traditional, hierarchically-organized enterprises can rise to the customer-centric challenge of digital is via a comprehensive, end-to-end reorganization.

Instead of customer-facing people, processes, and technology living in one silo while back-office people, processes, and technology live in another - with untold numbers of silos in between - digital transformation requires a cross-cutting rethink of the entire organizational model.

Given the observations of Conway's Law, wherever our organizational model goes, so too goes our technology.

Digital technology need not fall exclusively in the category of ‘user-facing.' In fact, any piece of technology, regardless how old it is or where it falls in the enterprise IT environment, is a ‘digital technology' if it aligns with the customer-centric goal of digital.

From mainframes and middleware to cloud computing and the Internet of Things, all enterprise technology might qualify as digital technology.

What, then, about our list of excluded technologies? The answer of course, is that all of these might very well be digital technologies as well - as long as the end-customer is driving the application of the technology.

On the other hand, it's certainly possible for a user-facing piece of technology to fall outside our updated definition of digital technology if it doesn't align properly with the goals of digital.

Yes, the same mobile application, the very same piece of technology, may or may not qualify as digital technology depending upon how a company deploys it.

If this context-sensitive aspect of the definition makes you uncomfortable, then all I have to say to you is: welcome to digital transformation.

After all, there is a bigger picture here - digital as a term is itself inherently vague and dynamic. Furthermore, digital transformation is such a comprehensive, deeply chaotic set of internal and external disruptions that simply labeling all such transformations as digital is a confusing oversimplification.

Compared to digital transformation itself, therefore, digital technology is relatively straightforward - and furthermore, the distinctions among various technology innovations aren't particularly important as long as customers are driving those innovations.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. Intellyx publishes the Agile Digital Transformation Roadmap poster, advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives, and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, none of the organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx customers. Image credit: dailyinvention and public domain.

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@ThingsExpo Stories
We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), provided an overview of various initiatives to certify the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldwide re...
The Internet giants are fully embracing AI. All the services they offer to their customers are aimed at drawing a map of the world with the data they get. The AIs from these companies are used to build disruptive approaches that cannot be used by established enterprises, which are threatened by these disruptions. However, most leaders underestimate the effect this will have on their businesses. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rene Buest, Director Market Research & Technology Evangelism at Ara...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Int\ernational Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their ...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
When growing capacity and power in the data center, the architectural trade-offs between server scale-up vs. scale-out continue to be debated. Both approaches are valid: scale-out adds multiple, smaller servers running in a distributed computing model, while scale-up adds fewer, more powerful servers that are capable of running larger workloads. It’s worth noting that there are additional, unique advantages that scale-up architectures offer. One big advantage is large memory and compute capacity...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ayehu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara California. Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infras...
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, discussed some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and related how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material was delivered interac...
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, an entertainment executive/TV producer turned serial entrepreneur, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to ma...
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.