Time to circle back, tear down silos and pivot on those deliverables: 2014 was a banner year for the tech industry — at least when it came to spouting jargon. And while everyone has finally dropped the dreaded “open the kimono,” a whole new series of cliches are on the march.
So for the good of tech types everywhere, here’s a ranked list of overused phrases from last year that we can all stop saying (or say a little less) in 2015. Feel free to add any of your own in the comments below.
10) We take users on a journey
Unless your company sells cars, boats or hoverboards, it’s a good bet your company doesn’t take users far beyond their living rooms. So skip the cliched travel metaphors and just say what the damn product does.
9) “Like peanut butter and chocolate”
This phrase is popping up as a way for big tech company execs to describe the serendipitous discovery of complementary business units. It’s a tasty metaphor the first time you hear it — but goes over more like curdled spinach the 10th time.
8) Tech company X’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day
7) Startup “story tellers”
Experts say young companies need to hire “story tellers” to share their vision/shake money from VC’s. The term is smarmy and the act is unnecessary. Yes, a narrative is important, but start-ups looking for the right words can just turn to the PR firms they’re already paying. Or in the case of AOL, keep paying the company’s “digital prophet” Shingy to do whatever the hell he does.
6) Ninjas and gurus
There a still handful of diehards out there who think this is a witty way to convey expertise. If you’ve somehow forgotten to remove “ninja” and “guru” from your Twitter or LinkedIn profiles, do so quietly before you get sent back to 2010 where you belong.
5) “We see around corners”
Hey marketers, if you want customers to think your client can see into the future, better stop using a cliche from the past.
In 2014, a deluge of corporate rebranding meant the end of any meaningful distinction between “in the cloud” and “on the internet.” In 2015, let’s see how the jargon slingers parse the mainstream adoption of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.
3) Bitcoin is like the internet in 1994
In the award for crummy currency of the year, bitcoin beat out even the plummeting ruble. Meanwhile, bitcoin boosters like Circle and the boys at Andreessen Horowitz keep trotting out Netscape and other cusp-of-the-internet analogies in a bid to keep the faith. They’re going to need a new metaphor — or better yet some actual bitcoin adoption — if they want this thing to still going to be around in 2016.
Most startups and even PR people got the memo that these terms are not just obnoxious, but stale, stale, stale. VC Benedict Evans might be on to something when he points to a possible successor term:
Note for 2015: destabilise is a more useful term than 'disrupt', which is now drained of all meaning.
— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) December 30, 2014
1) Sharing economy
Sharing is a positive term to describe free, benevolent acts among friends. Paying for the temporary use of cars, homes or labor is not sharing — no matter how much the likes of Uber and Airbnb invoke the phrase to score points in their PR battle with regulators. While “sharing economy” is still common currency in tech circles, 2015 should be the year it gets chucked. Let’s follow Fred Wilson’s example and use a grown-up term (“rental economy”) as a proper description for this white hot part of the tech sector.