Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

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
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.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
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.
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, will lead you through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He'll look at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn't require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbui...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale is the leading provider of Software-Defined Servers that bring flexibility to modern data centers by right-sizing servers on the fly to fit any data set or workload. TidalScale’s award-winning inverse hypervisor technology combines multiple commodity servers (including their ass...
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
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.
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant th...
Digital transformation is changing the face of business. The IDC predicts that enterprises will commit to a massive new scale of digital transformation, to stake out leadership positions in the "digital transformation economy." Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, Oct 31-Nov 2, will find fresh new content in a new track called Enterprise Cloud & Digital Transformation.
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software. They hope to capture value from emerging technologies such as IoT, SDN, and AI. Ultimately, irrespective of the vertical, it is about deriving value from independent software applications participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridhar, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, will discuss how given the magnitude of today's applicati...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Golden Gate University will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Since 1901, non-profit Golden Gate University (GGU) has been helping adults achieve their professional goals by providing high quality, practice-based undergraduate and graduate educational programs in law, taxation, business and related professions. Many of its courses are taug...
What is the best strategy for selecting the right offshore company for your business? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, will discuss the things to look for - positive and negative - in evaluating your options. He will also discuss how to maximize productivity with your offshore developers. Before you start your search, clearly understand your business needs and how that impacts software choices.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...