The IT industry is full of buzzwords – great names for exciting new concepts. These terms have a tendency to be over-used, or mis-used, and before you know it can actually lose their meaning all together! For non-IT focussed business people, these terms can lead to confusion and breakdowns in communication with the IT department.
In this blog, we want to clear the air and turn a few of these buzzwords back into plain english - so here are five that we come across all the time:
Five modern IT buzzwords, demystified:
1. Digital Transformation
This one is not necerssarily an IT-focussed term but is worth a mention. Potentially the mother of all buzzwords these days, 'Digital Transformation' has come to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To some it can refer to something as simple as a single IT project or upgrade, whilst to others it's a term that describes the whole process of rethinking and reframing the business for the digital age. We at Soltius like this definition: "The realignment of, or investment in new technology, business models and processes to drive value for customers and employees, and more effectively compete in an ever-changing digital economy".
Digital transformation is about the customer and the user - not just cool new tech for the IT department to play with. An example close to home is Ballance Agri-Nutrients, who's first step towards Digital Transformation was to introduce SAP S/4HANA.This gave them a world-class platform to grow with, and is enabling them to use digital information in new ways to improve they way the operate and serve clients.
The agile methodology a way of developing software which stresses a speedy approach, delivering a ‘minimal viable product’ and then refining it based on feedback from the business’. Consider this in terms of apps available on the iStore or Google Play store. Often, the first iteration is workoable, but not necessarily amazing, and serves to introduce the concept behind the app. Regular updates (which happen constantly on all our phones these days) soon transform the app into something more useful, generally incorporating feedback from the users.
‘Agile’ in business is similar. With an agile approach, your users will get something quickly, but it won’t (necessarily) be the finished product. But continual testing and improving means users are delivered an experience that is improving all the time.
“‘Something’ as a service, where X is ‘something’.” What is X? Just like the days of algebra, X can be anything – software, platform, infrastructure, monitoring, security - you name it! That’s because, thanks to the cloud, a great deal of IT offerings can indeed be provided as a service these days (as opposed to provided on-site or purchased outright). TechTarget provides a thorough definition.
4. Internet of Things (IoT)
It’s essentially about 'things' connected to the internet which weren’t traditionally connected to the internet - and millions of them.
IoT implies small sensors and a specialised ‘low power’ network, which operates independently of the ‘traditional’ network. These low power sensors are cheap, don’t require SIM cards like mobile phones do, and can be installed in their millions on ‘things’ - like pallets, crates, cows, sheep, cars - basically, anything you’d like to keep track of. The resulting output provides data for analysis, improvement, automation and more. Paired with powerful business software, the possibilities are substantial.
AI stands for ‘Artificial intelligence': Actual, working decision-making by computers. This one isn’t new, but what is new is that ‘actual, working decision-making by computers’ is becoming an everyday occurrence. From Google anticipating your searches or providing automated traffic updates, to Siri answering questions or Amazon providing shopping recommendations, we are surrounded by AI today.
AI is intended to make us more efficient and to help us to do things faster and better – in many instances, by augmenting our own intelligence.
AI is even available as a service (where the 'X' in 'XaaS' is AI). That means prepackaged algorithms or chatbots which can be integrated into your environment and go to work on your data to help people – customers or employees – out. Here's an article which explains why AI is a big deal for business today.
Buzzwords often spring into being because what they describe is so noteworthy and potentially valuable that everyone is talking about it – but it’s worthwhile knowing their correct meaning to avoid confusion and to make the most of the opportunities these trends offer.
Taking advantage of these latest developments, however, does depend on a level of organisational preparedness – and that often means getting the back-end systems sorted.