Egregious Forms of Business-Speak
We certainly hope you're not guilty of using some of these IT buzzwords at work!
"Oh, meltdown. It's one of those annoying buzzwords. We prefer to call it an unrequested fission surplus."
- By Paul Desmond
—Mr. Burns, "The Simpsons"
Most of us don't have nuclear reactors to contend with, but we are nevertheless subject to egregious IT buzzwords and business-speak, including these 10 examples.
I'm anxious to get this one out of the way right off the bat because it's the only one on this list I will admit to having used in actual speech. After hearing many of you complain about cohorts who use it to refer not only to e-mail but phone calls, I am now thoroughly chastened and ashamed. I pledge to use it only to refer to a certain TCP/IP-related function and a rather pricey brand of golf club going forward.
9. Going forward
Whoops. No. 10 now goes double for this one. As one reader pointed out, the phrase is extraneous. "Why would a business or IT Department want to go backward?" he asks. Why indeed. It's "In the future" or "from here on" for me, going forward. (Damn!)
No vendor these days sells products and services, only "solutions." And yet, we still have lots of problems. So what problems are all these solutions addressing, and where is the value-add? Ping me if you have a clue.
A network admin in Baltimore writes, "The phrase that always gets my goat is issued during a meeting, when one person says, ‘We'll discuss this off-line.' Off-line? Sounds like a disconnect to me!" I couldn't agree more. Now let's discuss "gets my goat."
6. Bandwidth & Cycles
I'm lumping these together because it's the same idea—measures of network or computer speed to describe the capacity of humans to do something, or more typically, not do something. "Sorry, I just don't have the bandwidth to help you." I guess that sounds better than, "I'm sorry, but I'm far too incredibly lazy to help with your petty little problem."
"Whack," of course, is the vernacular for "backslash" among the IT crowd, but some find it egregious, even if they are humored by it at the same time. "I always smile to myself when someone tells me to go to a specific windows share, like WhackWhack Server Whack Share Whack folder Whack File," says reader Rick Sperandio. Others, like one anonymous network admin from Ontario, find it just plain grating when folks use the term: "It makes me want to ‘whack-whack' them upside the head."
4. At the end of the day
At the end of my day, I go home and, if the stars are aligned, have a nice martini and sometimes feel a completely baseless kinship with FDR, who used to do the same thing. I don't, however, think to myself, "Gosh, it's the end of the day, it's time to determine how that solution that we put in to solve our productivity problem going forward is panning out. I should ping Jonesy." In vendor-speak, "the end of the day" translates to, "About two years from now when hopefully you will forget I ever told you about the ROI this solution was supposed to deliver for your win-win strategic endeavor."
By their very nature, a deal of any kind should be good for both sides. But that doesn't mean anybody "wins" anything—you get something, I get something, we're both reasonably happy, and hopefully I can get you to pay for lunch. The Patriots won the Super Bowl right after the Red Sox (believe it or not) won the World Series—now that's a win-win, at least for us Bostonians. But, at the end of the day, software that simply does what it's supposed to do is just a solution.
2. Hard stop
A hard stop is when you have to slam on the brakes because yellow finally turned red, a tactic that hardly ever impresses the girls, especially when you follow it up with a line like, "Really had to throw out the anchor on that one, huh?" I'd like to whack-whack the guy who first started using it to refer to the time when he's got something far more important to do than talk to the likes of me.
1. Virtual buckets
Matt Steeves of Chicago swears he heard this term used in a meeting "to describe interactions between support groups." Probably (hopefully) you never heard it before, which means it doesn't rightfully belong on this list, but it was so perfect in its egregiousness that I just had to include it. Besides, I've got a hard stop now.
Paul Desmond, the founding editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine, is president of the IT publishing firm PDEdit in Southborough, Mass. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.