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Process Virtualization Theory Overview Essay

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Updated: May 14th, 2022


The world is becoming more virtual than ever before. ‘Process virtualization’ is common in most areas like formal education, shopping, and the development of friendship. However, there are differences in processes of virtualization due to various extents of amenability. In other words, electronic shopping may work well in some applications than others. Based on this observation, this paper focuses on factors that influence the ‘virtual inability of a process’ (Overby 277).

‘Virtualizability of a process’ has gained recognition as information technology has transformed most physical processes into virtual processes. Therefore, the article proposes a ‘process virtualization theory’, which includes “four main constructs (sensory requirements, relationship requirements, synchronism requirements, and identification and control requirements) that affect whether a process is amenable or resistant to being conducted virtually” (Overby 277).


Most aspects of traditional processes previously conducted through physical means have turned into virtual processes due to developments in information technology (IT). These processes include online learning, shopping, and meeting friends. We can conclude that developments in information technology have enabled society to replace physical processes with virtual processes, and most virtual processes have gained recognition among users.

The process of virtualization has gained full momentum. This is evident from the virtualization of processes that seemed difficult to change a few years ago. However, virtualization processes have been simple in other areas than others. This article focuses on a theory of process virtualization, which has two parts. First, it explores factors like “sensory, relationship, synchronism, and identification and control requirements” (Overby 277). These requirements determine whether a process complies with the virtual processes or resists virtual processes. Second, the article also explores factors related to “the representation, reach, and monitoring capabilities of information technology” (Overby 278) and its roles in transforming various activities in virtual processes that affect businesses and society. Therefore, the author found it appropriate to address the theoretical underpinning of IT in virtualization processes to account for the gap in the field. The author based the study on a work by Orlikowski and Iacono, which advocates for theoretical models as a way of addressing the role of IT, its intended and unintended effects, and why IT matters.


Eric Overby acknowledges previous works of other authors in the same field. This gives his work credibility. The article provides a fundamental role in understanding IT and the need to understand changes in society, as well as factors that influence virtualization. This knowledge enables interested parties to understand virtualization theory.

The author enables us to understand whether the virtualization process is resistant or amenable. In this context, he focuses on “sensory, relationship, synchronism, and identification and control requirements” (Overby 278) in virtualization. These requirements apply whether processes use IT systems or not.

He acknowledges that high processes are complex while low processes have low levels of complexity. The author shows that IT capabilities facilitate the integration of virtual processes. This is why society has experienced several IT-based applications in the digital age.

The theory is broad because it focuses on diverse areas in IT applications under virtual processes. This broad-based application of the theory limits its effectiveness in a given field. This is because various areas of IT virtualization processes have different factors, which influence outcomes.

The researcher also acknowledges the limitations of his work. For instance, there are some aspects, that this theory cannot address and need further study. This theory applies to migration from physical processes to virtual processes only. Therefore, it does not account for virtual to physical migration.


The author proposes process virtualization theory to explain and predict issues that influence amenability or resistance to virtualization. According to Overby, “the transition from a physical process to a virtual process is process virtualization” (Overby 278). The process shows that there is a lack of interaction between people and people, or objects. This theory is necessary for providing a framework that can help in understanding factors that influence process virtualization regardless of whether the process is virtual or physical.

The facilitating force behind processes virtualization is the development of IT. However, there are also non-IT-based virtualization processes, which do not depend on IT for virtualization.

The theory has three elements that affect the process ‘virtual ability’. First, sensory requirements include “tasting, seeing, smelling, hearing, and touching” (Overby 279). It accounts for the need of users in experiencing sensory aspects of processes. Sensory requirements have “negative impacts on the process virtual inability” (Overby 282). Second, there are also relationship requirements. This requires that process participants must interact with others professionally and socially. Interaction among process participants often leads to the acquisition of “knowledge, trust, and friendship” (Overby 280). However, relationship requirements have “negative impacts on process virtual inability” (Overby 282). Third, we have synchronism requirements. This refers to “the degree to which the activities that make up a process need to occur quickly with minimal delay” (Overby 282). These requirements also have “negative relations to process virtual inability” (Overby 282). Finally, identification and control requirements focus on unique aspects of user identification and the ability of the process to control users’ behaviors. It also has “negative relations to process virtual inability” (Overby 282).

Process virtualization theory has three characteristics that affect virtualization and constructs (representation, reach, and monitoring capability). These elements have “positive moderation on the relations between process virtual inability and the main constructs” (Overby 283). The three aspects of capability constructs also have applicability in some non-IT-based virtual processes.

Representation refers to the ability of IT processes to provide relevant information to users.

Reach construct allows for participation across both time and time and space. As a result, many processes can occur throughout a given period.

Another construct is monitoring capability. This aspect of process virtualization theory provides capabilities for process authentication and tracks users’ activities. It aids in the identification and control requirements in processes.

Findings, Limitations, Conclusion, and Remarks

The process virtualization shows whether a process is resistant or amenable to virtual processes. The theory has “sensory, relationship, synchronism, and identification and control requirements” (Overby 277). These aspects apply to both IT-based and non-IT-based processes. High processes are difficult to virtualize. IT constructs like “reach, representation, and monitoring capabilities” (Overby 282) facilitate the integration of virtual processes with required elements.

Process virtualization theory applies to both research studies and practices. The theory provides frameworks to classify amenable or resistant factors in virtualization. The virtualization process is in almost every aspect of society. Therefore, it applies to various fields like communication, sociology, economics, and management studies. The theory shows the role of IT in society and explains why IT has significant influences on society and business.

Process virtualization theory provides analytical opportunities for migrating processes to virtual applications. It also provides a virtual process design for migrating systems. It enables practitioners to consider elements like “representation, reach, and monitoring capabilities” (Overby 282) of processes so that they can meet other requirements. Process virtualization theory is broad. Based on this broadness, the theory lacks concrete explanations for various domains. This is because factors differ from one domain to another, and the theory does not address these specific factors.

Some aspects like teamwork, governance, and cultures of organizations are not a part of process virtualization theory. In addition, the theory fails to account for the suitability of virtual or physical processes. In other words, the theory fails to provide reasons to explain why some consumers prefer online shopping while others prefer visiting a bookstore. The theory only focuses on migration from physical to virtual processes. This implies that the theory cannot account for new systems without physical beginnings. The author proposes this as an area for further studies.

Overby concludes that process virtualization theory needs empirical data to support it. This shall ensure that the model improves and provides explanations for various constructs of the theory. Empirical data may also be useful in the identification of new constructs for improving the theory. The author also notes that studies in areas like distance learning, media usage, virtual teams, and electronic commerce can provide useful information for developing process virtualization theory.

Developments in IT applications shall increase virtual applications in society and business. The author also notes that society is not ready to abandon physical processes for virtual processes. Process virtualization theory also enables us to “understand processes that resist virtualization” (Overby 289). These are processes with “high relationships, sensory, synchronism, and identification and control requirements” (Overby 289). Developments of various theories for explaining migration to virtual environments shall be essential as businesses and society continue to change.

Works Cited

Overby, Eric. “Process Virtualization Theory and the Impact of Information Technology.” OrganizationScience 19.2 (2008): 277–291. Print.

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