The Biography of an IT Buzzword

IT loves buzzwords. Digital Transformation, Digital Detox, Actionable Analytics – the tougher they are to comprehend, the more love they get! And if I were to trace lifetime of a buzzword, I would get something as templated as the script of a 80s Bollywood movie!! This is what I have learnt in a good part of the 15 years I have spent in this line.

So here I task myself to write a Biography of an IT Buzzword – how they rise from cringe worthy sales pitch presentations to “The future of Technology “type articles in Time magazine, only to be forgotten in 2 years. People eventually realised that life remained painfully same and change they were eagerly waiting for, never happened. Yet, it makes for a goof potboiler, so what the heck; let’s see how it all unravels.

google adwords

In some forgotten corner of the internet, a blogger cooks up a ‘Smart Sounding But No One Really Understands’ kind of phrase (Lets henceforth call it SSBNORU so that we feel smarter talking about it). The blogger is probably better at his English than his IT Skills, and this SSBNORU is his only chance to earn a dollar in pay per click on Google Adwords.

In yet another sophisticated corner of the internet, a shrewd, but still inconsequential business consultant (mostly from an egregiously rich consulting firm) stumbles on this blog discovers the SSBNORU. He immediately recognizes the potential of SSBNORU and how it will be the crowning glory on some thoroughly plagiarized and repackaged data in his report. He will immediately pilfers this term and conveniently insert it in his report and presents it to his manager who was growing grey scouring for that new SSBNORU that can extend his setting career by a year or two. They immediately get to the job, a new SSBNORU needs to debut. It gets title space and at least 20 references in the report and also gets placed in a graphic apart from getting its own glamorous presentation. Meetings are set-up with top CIOs as they wait in anticipation for the next big thing in technology. (Trust me if it was not for the business consulting firms, most CIOs would lose their jobs, they are so far back in time.)

Rs100 note money

With much frill and fanfare- SSBNORU is launched in meetings, blogs, presentations, events, magazines. Everyone is seduced into believing that world will never be the same again, customers will love you, sales will rocket, CEO will hug CIO and make him CEO and thank him for years for his contribution. Everyone is high on dreams, on IT. CIO, is enthused, he quickly tasks his smarter deputy to create a complex presentation which conveys nothing apart from the fact that CIO has toiled very hard to discover SSBNORU he deserves every dime of the fat salary he draws.

Traditional CEOs hate IT, they don’t know understand how the heck SAP knows more about their business than they do. So in IT meetings- they usually nod in understanding and ask about IT budget optimization. The CIOs totally understand that the CEO is clueless and never miss a chance to muddle him further. But SSBNORU are those rare events that both enjoy and even look forward to. The CEO finally gets something that he need not understand, and yet he can drop it in all his conversations ( with clients, other CEOs, subordinates, boisterous extended family). He will look modern and intelligent and who knows, maybe his incompetent CIO does really know what to do with SSBNORU.

guy taking interview

This happens in all consulting client companies, the buzz reaches crescendo. Now its so big that media interviewers start asking “Sir are you using SSBNORU how do you think it will affect your business” and then the CEO says “Of course, we as an organization are committed to making our business efficient using SSBNORU, as a matter of fact it will help reduce carbon footprint and may even help us prepare for climate change”. There, all the ingredients , and audience breaks into a loud applause. Everyone sleeps well – the CEO, CIO, smart presentation maker, consultant and his manager. Well almost everyone, except the blogger- because he knows the SSBNORU dint help him earn his dollar. He is still struggling to come up with the next one. Within 2 or 3 quarters almost everyone will see that sales never grew, no one really understood SSBNORU or what it stood for. It must be a dumb idea, or maybe it wasn’t good for my business. Life will go on, Google will help some marketing consultant search for the next SSBNORU that will help people keep their jobs for a little longer.

Spent more than 15 years in IT in a role that helped me sift through facts and fiction in IT. I enjoy demystifying carefully constructed myths in this industry.