David Diamond, from one of DAM News’ featured DAM vendors, Picturepark has written an article for CMSWire: Forget the Buzzwords, Focus on the Work. There were a couple of quotes that I found especially noteworthy:
“We like buzzwords because they fool us into thinking things are moving forward. New acronyms feed our addiction to possibilities, and they also offer a convenient excuse for why things might not be perfect now: “We’re missing deadlines and losing files because we don’t have a DAM.”” [Read More]
and this one from the second page:
“The trouble starts when we use buzzword technology as a medication to hide the symptoms of problems we don’t want to deal with, or don’t fully understand. In doing so, we obscure troublesome business processes that need to be addressed.” [Read More]
I would have to agree with David on the points he raises here and I know that DAM News’ editor, Naresh Sarwan has a particular distaste for what he calls jargon dustbins too. I am a little more relaxed about acronyms like CXM (Customer Experience Management) or MRM (Marketing Resource Management) than Naresh is and I can see some scenarios where they make sense – I think he is coming round to MRM being OK also now. But, I would have to concede that they are few and far between when measured against the volume of other pointless noise generated by the tech sector as it struggles to understand and come to terms with the products it generates.
As a software guy myself, it would be great to put this all down to tech marketing people who don’t properly understand what their employer’s actually do, but the sad fact is most of the leg-work for the proliferation of tech buzzwords is carried out by those at the sharp-end, such as developers, sys admins or project managers who don’t want to look like they are behind the pace in front of their colleagues (or, even worse, the end users).
That point touches on another element of these buzzwords and the whole nomenclature that the IT industry seems intent on strangling itself with. Many terms and the rising or falling popularity of them have become tokens to signal some positive or negative outcome that whoever using them would like to say outright, but can’t for one reason or another. Just like clerics and priests in the middle ages might misuse their ability to read the bible to adapt an interpretation of it to suit whatever outcome they had a preference for, so technology (and those who minister in that church) has acquired a similar role today.
Thus, if a manager says: “I think we should go fully agile for this one” in a project meeting might mean they want to carefully test and assess all the factors but continue to make progress with implementation, or it could imply that they haven’t bothered to understand the senior user’s requirements and want an option to wriggle out of committing to a time and cost. The buzzwords or terminology can provide a smoke screen which some are very willing to exploit – but it’s not always easy to tell when that is happening, especially if you are unfamiliar with the language being used.
IT markets (DAM included) are, essentially, fashion businesses and just like those in popular culture can make outmoded references to imply that a person or object is out touch and whose value is diminished by a more modern and, by implication, superior, replacement, so it goes with IT too.
The key to dealing with these interpretation problems (sorry, ‘challenges’) if you are involved in making decisions about whether to use some technology or other and someone starts using terminology you don’t understand, is to be unafraid to just ask and keep pressing until you get an answer your understand. You may find that by probing for more straightforward explanation that whoever is using the term doesn’t really understand what they mean either.