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Friday rant: words that should be expunged from IT speak

Whenever reading about technology, it seems that PR and marketers can't help themselves. They seem to find a need to insert one or all of the following words in order to grab interest without regard for what the words really mean.
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor on

Whenever reading about technology, it seems that PR and marketers can't help themselves. They seem to find a need to insert one or all of the following words in order to grab interest without regard for what the words really mean.

There was a time when companies described what they were trying to communicate rather than larding in unnecessary hyperbole. It gave us a sense of what is going on. Somewhere along the way, that sense of simple communication was lost in the need to demonstrate self-serving leadership status. Is it any wonder that some of us don't even read press releases anymore?

Here is my pet list of words I find a turn off when used injudiciously:

Awesome: everything seems to be 'awesome.' No it isn't. Some of it is mutton dressed as lamb but for some reason, as an industry, we seem obsessed with the thought that any idea, however cock-eyed is 'awesome.'

Cloud: the other day I saw the use, or rather mis-use, of the term cloud applied to an intranet solution. It seems as an industry we're running out of ideas to describe something unless we can see it as part of the latest fashionista trend. Does anyone truly believe that's the way buyers evaluate solutions/services?

Cool: the use of a term that doesn't carry any real meaning. Cool is what happens when I put a pint of milk in the refrigerator and leave it to drop temperature. Not with software.

Game-changing: OK, so this is not quite a word but an expression. Every 20 years or so IT sees something that changes the way things are done. But game-changing seems to be yet another of those expressions that's used with abandon.

Innovation: if ever there was a word that's abused by IT people then 'innovation' is it. Checking Wikipedia, I find that even that august source struggles to come up with a definition that makes general sense. Next time someone say they're innovating then ask them exactly what that is supposed to mean.

Revolutionize: this is a frightening term. I associate revolutions with death and mayhem. Say no more.

Social: (and all its derivatives) regular readers will know this is one of my favorite targets. It seems that in some circles if something ain't 'social' then it has no place in the enterprise. Phooey. I can't wait for the people who come up with SMRP.

Transformational: I actually like this word but again it is subject to mis-use. When vendors can show the results of their offering delivering significant bottom line benefits then I"ll sit up and take notice. Anything aspirational won't cut it.

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