I mean ‘e’ as in electronic and all things digital, the prefix for eMail, eCommerce eBooks etc. not the drugs or ‘e’ numbers!
(Ed. By the way, did you know that the ‘e’ in food additive classification stands for Europe. Who knew Europe could be so bad for you!)
There was a fashion in the 80’s and 90’s (and before) to put an ‘E’ in front of some real-world products or services to represent a new alternative electronic, digital, or wireless version of an existing thing. Unfortunately it is not particularly helpful or consistent. The uptake and ‘stickiness’ varies a lot as well. For example:
- eBooks and eReaders but not eMusic
- eGovernment but not eSchools or eShops
- eLearning but not eTeaching
- eBanking, eCommerce, ePublishing, and eAccounting…but not eInsurance, eLaw or ePhones
- Compare e-tailing (yuck) with the daddy of them all – eMail
Maybe there is some underlying logic, which I can’t see. There’s not even a consistent use of ‘e’, ‘E’, or e-hyphen to help the confused consumer.
Clicks and mortar
Now, in most respects tagging ‘E’ onto an existing product, service or process is superfluous – it might even be ironic, like this blog title. In the majority of cases a multi-channel strategy almost has to have online access and as much paperless, digital, and self-service provision as possible. And it’s not just about cost and convenience, it almost feels like a betrayal of the future if even the most personal (Medicine), bread-and-butter (Restaurants) and rooted organisation (Landscape Gardeners!) doesn’t have an app and a website with on-line sales & servicing. If Doctors, bakers & gardeners can be made redundant or computerized or otherwise augmented with technology in the future they will be. I imagine most start-ups begin with this business model rather anything as prosaic as a ‘bricks and mortar’ only proposition. What about, ‘I know let’s open a local high-street Estate Agent with no online listings’ I don’t think so.
You only have to think about our relationship with money, ok eCash has had a rocky early history (who even understands how bitcoins work!), but other Cashless payment systems, electronic banking and direct debits are overtaking hard currency and cheque/check transactions as ‘promises to pay’.
Back to ‘E’, other letters and prefixes are available of course:
M – for mobile, is underused IMHO, maybe there is a confusion with the wireless phones (in the UK) being called mobiles?
Cyber – mostly relates to bad things, crime, terrorism or Doctor Who baddies!
D – for Digital, another underused letter, I can only think of D:ream and (Professor) Brian Cox!
New – as in New Media doesn’t really work because things get old, think New Labour, oh dear.
Maybe we should start a movement to promote a different letter, I advocate ‘d’ or ‘w’ for wireless? Or maybe not, we should just recognise things for what they are; lawnmowers can be electric or not; phones can wireless (mobile/cell) or fixed/land-lines; the internet and the web are where most of the ‘e’ stuff happens anyway and we know where and what that is don’t we?
So, to answer the question my own question, no more E’s please!
(c) 2015 Antony Lawrence CBA Ltd.