Procurement’s Guide to New Digital World Terminologies

By Dennis Bouley

August 02, 2018 at 3:01 PM

Digital world resized.jpgEveryday workplace conversations (either around the water cooler or online) often allude new business trends or new terms that are used to describe those trends.  Listed below are some of the more common terms that get thrown around that we can refer to as “new digital world” types of terms.  The information below represents a set of loose descriptions but provides a general idea of what people (whether they be suppliers, procurement colleagues or line of business executives) mean when they use these terms:

1. Artificial Intelligence combines a set of defined rules, intelligence and information in order to come up with recommended decisions or actions based on the data. For example, when requisitions are coming from different sources, artificial intelligence can flag some as a procurement risk or as an opportunity for savings.

2. Big Data describes the large volume of data that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. More and more devices both gather and generate data and more integrated networks link large pools of data to each other. But it’s not the amount of data that’s important. How organizations work with that data is what really matters.. Big data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.

3. Blockchain is an automated distributed public ledger that records transactions from multiple sources in a highly secure, trusted environment. Networks of computers use cryptography to allow each participant on the network to update the ledger in a secure manner, without a central authority – virtually eliminating the possibility of hacking.

4. Cloud computingis characterized by a network of remote servers hosted either in colocation facilities or in hyperscale data centers (like those hosted by companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft) that store, manage, and process data.  Rather than relying on local servers, cloud users typically have a connection through a communication gateway to cloud resources. Flavors of cloud computing include public, private, or hybrid and the services that a cloud architecture can provide include broad categories such as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) among others.

5.Digitization is the process of converting information into a digital (i.e., computer-readable) format, in which the information is organized into bits. Digitization creates the infrastructure for Digitalization. 

6. Digitalization, takes the process a step further. Digitalization implies the use of digital technologies and of data in order to create revenue, improve business, replace/transform business processes and create an environment for digital business, whereby digital information is at the core. A fresh example of digitalization at work is the concept of a “digital twin” where a virtual version of an operating process, a machine or a plant is built (prior to building the real thing) to help make highly accurate predictions for how that process, machine, or plant will actually behave once in operation. Digitalization, in essence, represents a corporate framework that allows for the exploitation of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) benefits.

7. Digital Transformation, the third step of the process, consists, in essence, of a business strategy that leverages digitalization to lower costs and increase profitability across the business.

8. Edge Computing refers to processing power that is embedded either inside or close to machines (in a factory environment) or to sophisticated medical equipment like CAT scan machines (in a healthcare environment) or in distributed office environments for the purpose of enabling functions such as local business analytics and control automation functions. Examples of devices that offer edge computing capabilities include sensor hubs, actuators, IoT gateways, and edge servers.

9. Industrial edge refers to places where industrial assets and people are located. In such environments employees work alongside the production line interacting with industrial devices such as machines and controllers.

10. Machine learning refers to any technology that trains a given system with previously categorized data and applies that to all uncategorized data. As a result, additional insights to spend data (in a procurement environment) are accessed in a simpler, less time-consuming fashion and with more accuracy.

These are just a few of the terms that are helping us to better understand the trends across business that are influencing how technology-assisted procurement work gets done. More new terms will come as our digitized workplace continues to evolve.

Tags: procurement digitization procurement artificial intelligence procurement blockchain procument digitalization
Category: News Article

Dennis Bouley


Dennis Bouley is Editorial Director of and special advisor to MediaSolve Group, a strategic B2B marketing services firm focused on helping companies and institutions leverage the web and social media to achieve business goals. He spent 18 years at Schneider Electric as Managing Editor of Global Publications, and was responsible for cross-division management of the corporation’s white paper and customer success story processes. Prior to that, he spent 10 years working for IBM managing both small and large accounts. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Rhode Island and holds a Certificat Annuel from the Sorbonne in Paris, France. 

Please add a comment

You must be logged in to leave a reply. Login »

Related Content

Thought Leadership and the Demise of Your Third-Party MRO Outsourcing Program: Part 4

George E. Krauter

When one defines third-party MRO (3PMRO) success, one assumes that fundamental operations are being executed and that expectations are being met (i.e., ROI goals are surpassed} Read More

Guidance for Addressing the New Talent Acquisition Challenge

Dennis Bouley

The US Labor Department reported in March of this year that there were 6.6 million job openings, a record high. Although most of us applaud these numbers Read More

Millennials in Supply Chain Management Seek Advancement and Development Opportunities

Marisa Brown

Millennials working in the supply chain management field don’t fit the mold that the older generation assumes for them. APQC’s recent study Read More

Supplier Profiles


Staples Advantage is the one supplier that offers all the business solutions you need, all with the expertise of a specialty vendor. Read More


It started in 1972 with an idea, a new concept in distribution. Today, Digi-Key Corporation is one of the fastest-growing electronic component distributors in the World. The stimulus for this growth is Digi-Key's customer-centered business philosophy… Read More

Lunney Advisory Group

Lunney Advisory Group was founded in 2007. Our firm is not your typical consulting company. Some members of our firm are highly qualified and experienced industry executives/practitioners while others are full time or adjunct university professors.… Read More


What CEOs Expect Of Purchasing

Guest Contributor

Procurement and supply management leaders have a seat at the table, and management’s expectations are high. But what do CEOs really want, and is purchasing delivering on these expectations? This webcast looks at how procurement and supply management … Read More

Growing Purchasing Influence On Indirect Spending

Guest Contributor

At world-class companies, purchasing’s influence touches just about every area of spending. But, how exactly do procurement teams get to the point where other departments approach them for help with sourcing such indirect categories as human resource… Read More

Procurement-Finance Collaboration

Guest Contributor

Procurement & finance are two business functions which are often at loggerheads with each other. One reason for this is the lack of perception alignment on an important metric of procurement and finance performance - 'savings'. Read More