Gartner Inc., a world leading information technology research and advisory company, has assembled an extensive glossary of hundreds of technical definitions used in IT and the evolving technology economy.
I have excerpted a short list of some of the key definitions that I find particularly useful as we continue to glide into a new transformative technological era. There are of course, many more definitions to add (perhaps add more suggestions in your comments?!) It is evident is that technology, and more importantly our capabilities to use emerging technologies, in verticals of health, transportation, security, and commerce (for example), are creating a new world and Lexicon.
Analytics: has emerged as a catch-all term for a variety of different business intelligence (BI)- and application-related initiatives. For some, it is the process of analyzing information from a particular domain, such as website analytics. For others, it is applying the breadth of BI capabilities to a specific content area (for example, sales, service, supply chain and so on). In particular, BI vendors use the “analytics” moniker to differentiate their products from the competition. Increasingly, “analytics” is used to describe statistical and mathematical data analysis that clusters, segments, scores and predicts what scenarios are most likely to happen. Whatever the use cases, “analytics” has moved deeper into the business vernacular. Analytics has garnered a burgeoning interest from business and IT professionals looking to exploit huge mounds of internally generated and externally available data.
Artificial intelligence: is technology that appears to emulate human performance typically by learning, coming to its own conclusions, appearing to understand complex content, engaging in natural dialogs with people, enhancing human cognitive performance (also known as cognitive computing) or replacing people on execution of non-routine tasks. Applications include autonomous vehicles, automatic speech recognition and generation and detecting novel concepts and abstractions (useful for detecting potential new risks and aiding humans quickly understand very large bodies of ever changing information).
Augmented reality (AR): is the real-time use of information in the form of text, graphics, audio and other virtual enhancements integrated with real-world objects. It is this “real world” element that differentiates AR from virtual reality. AR integrates and adds value to the user’s interaction with the real world, versus a simulation.
Autonomous vehicle: is one that can drive itself from a starting point to a predetermined destination in “autopilot” mode using various in-vehicle technologies and sensors, including adaptive cruise control, active steering (steer by wire), anti-lock braking systems (brake by wire), GPS navigation technology, lasers and radar.
Big data: is high-volume, high-velocity and/or high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing that enable enhanced insight, decision making, and process automation.
Bioinformatics: solutions and service providers support research, development, the application of computational tools, and approaches for expanding the use of biological, medical, behavioral and health data. These systems are able to acquire, store, organize, archive, analyze and visualize data, and are integral to R&D drug development and therapy programs. They represent a very diverse field with specialty focus for different biological field disciplines (such as next-generation sequencing, functional genomics, molecular biology, computational biology and crystallography).
Biometric authentication: methods use biometric characteristics or traits to verify users’ claimed identities when users access endpoint devices, networks, networked applications or Web applications. Across a wide range of use cases, any biometric authentication method may be used in one-to-one comparison mode (when the user enters a user ID), or one-to-many search mode (when the user simply presents his or her biometric characteristic, with no explicit claim of identity, and the system determines his or her user ID from a range of candidates).
Cloud computing: is a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service using Internet technologies.
Customer experience: is the customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels or products.
Data Mining: The process of discovering meaningful correlations, patterns and trends by sifting through large amounts of data stored in repositories. Data mining employs pattern recognition technologies, as well as statistical and mathematical techniques.
Digital: Signal transmission that conveys information through a series of coded pulses representing 1s and 0s (binary code).
Digital Divide: The gap in opportunities experienced by those with limited accessibility to technology, especially the Internet. This includes, but is not limited to, accessibility challenges in the following areas:
Cultural (e.g., membership of a community that prohibits or restricts access to technology)
Physical (e.g., having a disability that make it difficult or impossible to use a computer)
Economic (e.g., being unable to afford a computer) • Educational (e.g., not knowing how to use a computer)
Digitization: is the process of changing from analog to digital form.
Encryption is the process of systematically encoding a bit stream before transmission so that an unauthorized party cannot decipher it.
Enterprise solutions are designed to integrate multiple facets of a company’s business through the interchange of information from various business process areas and related databases. These solutions enable companies to retrieve and disseminate mission-critical data throughout the organization, providing managers with real-time operating information.
Fuel Cells: Technology for low-cost miniature battery power supplies. As with batteries, fuel cells generate electricity through a chemical reaction. However, fuel cells are recharged by refilling or replacing the chemicals (examples include hydrogen, methyl alcohol or aluminum mixed with oxygen from the air) instead of plugging a charger into a wall socket. Fuel cells deliver energy density many times that of lithium and can power sophisticated devices longer. Choosing a stable fuel source that is safe and readily available and decreasing the size for smaller devices while maintaining efficiency remain challenges.
Gamification is the use of game mechanics to drive engagement in non-game business scenarios and to change behaviors in a target audience to achieve business outcomes. Many types of games include game mechanics such as points, challenges, leaderboards, rules and incentives that make game-play enjoyable. Gamification applies these to motivate the audience to higher and more meaningful levels of engagement. Humans are “hard-wired” to enjoy games and have a natural tendency to interact more deeply in activities that are framed in a game construct.
Hybrid Thinking: Gartner defines the concept of hybrid thinking as an organic discipline for taking on wicked problems by iteratively implementing transformative, innovative, and strategic change via the co-creative exploration of human-centered experiences that are culturally meaningful, technically feasible, and economically sustain
Information governance: is the specification of decision rights and an accountability framework to ensure appropriate behavior in the valuation, creation, storage, use, archiving and deletion of information. It includes the processes, roles and policies, standards and metrics that ensure the effective and efficient use of information in enabling an organization to achieve its goals.able.
The Internet of Things (IoT): is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.
Knowledge management (KM): is a business process that formalizes the management and use of an enterprise’s intellectual assets. KM promotes a collaborative and integrative approach to the creation, capture, organization, access and use of information assets, including the tacit, uncaptured knowledge of people.
Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications: is used for automated data transmission and measurement between mechanical or electronic devices. The key components of an M2M system are: Field-deployed wireless devices with embedded sensors or RFID-Wireless communication networks with complementary wireline access includes, but is not limited to cellular communication, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, WiMAX, wireless LAN (WLAN), generic DSL (xDSL) and fiber to the x (FTTx).
Open data: is information or content made freely available to use and redistribute, subject only to the requirement to attribute it to the source. The term also may be used more casually to describe any data that is shared outside the organization and beyond its original intended use, for example, with business partners, customers or industry associations. Formally, data designated as “open” is subject to several conditions and licensing that can be found at opendefinition
Predictive analytics: describes any approach to data mining with four attributes:
1. An emphasis on prediction (rather than description, classification or clustering)
2. Rapid analysis measured in hours or days (rather than the stereotypical months of traditional data mining)
3. An emphasis on the business relevance of the resulting insights (no ivory tower analyses)
4. (Increasingly) An emphasis on ease of use, thus making the tools accessible to business users.
Quantum computers: use atomic quantum states to effect computation. Data is held in qubits (quantum bits), which have the ability to hold all possible states simultaneously. This property, known as “superposition,” gives quantum computers the ability to operate exponentially faster than conventional computers as word length is increased. Data held in qubits is affected by data held in other qubits, even when physically separated. This effect is known as “entanglement.” Achieving both superposition and entanglement is extremely challenging.
Software-defined networks: are emerging networking architectures that separate the control plane from the data plane in networking equipment. This is so that network intelligence and state are logically centralized, and the underlying network infrastructure is abstracted from applications.
The smart grid: is a vision of the future electricity delivery infrastructure that improves network efficiency and resilience, while empowering consumers and addressing energy sustainability concerns. To make the grid “smarter,” and capable of addressing the need to decarbonize generation sources and enable end-user energy efficiency, utilities will have to improve observability and controllability of their networks, while transforming them into geodesic structures that intersperse a variety of distributed energy resources.
Telematics: refers to the use of wireless devices and “black box” technologies to transmit data in real time back to an organization. Typically, it’s used in the context of automobiles, whereby installed or after-factory boxes collect and transmit data on vehicle use, maintenance requirements or automotive servicing.
Ultracapacitors: use nanomaterials to store a static charge on either side of a vast surface area of insulating material. The voltages are low, but the charge density is high. Ultracapacitors exceed lead-acid energy densities, and lab units far exceed the capacity of conventional batteries. The technology continues to evolve, as energy storage capacity increases and costs decrease. For the data center, we expect ultracapacitors to become an option to replace batteries as the backup power source for an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
Virtual reality (VR): provides a computer-generated 3D environment that surrounds a user and responds to that individual’s actions in a natural way, usually through immersive head-mounted displays and head tracking. Gloves providing hand tracking and haptic (touch sensitive) feedback may be used as well. Room-based systems provide a 3D experience for multiple participants; however, they are more limited in their interaction capabilities.
Virtualization: is the abstraction of IT resources that masks the physical nature and boundaries of those resources from resource users. An IT resource can be a server, a client, storage, networks, applications or OSs. Essentially, any IT building block can potentially be abstracted from resource users.
Wearable computers: and their interfaces are designed to be worn on the body, such as a wrist-mounted screen or head-mounted display, to enable mobility and hands-free/eyes-free activities. Traditional uses are for mobile industrial inspection, maintenance and the military. Consumer uses include display peripherals, computer-ready clothing and smart fabrics. MIT has also demonstrated SixthSense, a gesture-controlled necklace device that projects digital information onto real-world objects and locations.
3D Printing: 3D fabricating technologies have been available since the late 1980s and have primarily been used in the field of prototyping for industrial design. More recently, the 3D printing quality has increased, and printer and supply costs have decreased to a level that broadens the appeal of 3D printing to a wider range of businesses, schools and consumers. Additive 3D printers deposit resin, plastic or another material, layer by layer, to build up a physical model. Inkjet 3D printers image successive layers of plastic powder, hardening each layer on contact, to build up the piece. The size of the part varies with the specific manufacturer’s printer and whether support structures are required.