Stop saying it

10 pieces of tech speak we should trash in 2015

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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

Apple had one. So did Uber. So did Sony. The rest of us will too if tech reporters don’t stop riffing on the title of Judith Viorst’s 1974 children book in a failed stab at hilarious hyberbole.

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.Ninja

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.

4) Cloud/cloud-based/in-the-cloud

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.

2) Disrupt/Disruption

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:

Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

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.

14 Responses to “10 pieces of tech speak we should trash in 2015”

  1. Kaye PR Tech

    As with everything “Cloud”, I am frankly tired of the Internet of Things (IoT). Yes, everything is or will be connected sometime in the future but so will everyONE. Let’s put the ‘I” back in Internet or at least define its power in more human terms.

  2. This post is both witty and timely. Just a couple of points: It’s a bit too early to call “Sharing Economy” outdated. That one is too new to die just yet. Prepare to hear that one a lot in 2015. Keep it on your list to be killed in 2016. Also, I was unaware that spinach curdled, but whether it does or doesn’t, it works either way as a new buzz phrase for 2015. “Solid concept but if we need to get it to market before our spinach curdles…” then again, lets’ kill that one before it’s born…

  3. reschlund

    The new slang for advertizing “Powered By”
    A NASCAR in car camera is Powered by McDonald’s ,Really now I thought everything in a car was powered by 12 volts.
    Or the Goodyear Blimp powered by Verizon,and I thought it had a couple of airplane engines.
    The list goes on and on for any sporting event that is televised .

  4. Davin Peterson

    We talk way too much about Apple and not enough about Android devices. We don’t need to bring up Apple everytime we talk technology or compare everything to Apple.

  5. Caitlin

    “Rental economy” doesn’t accurately describe what’s occurring, so I have to disagree. I think sharing implies use without expectation of pay, where as renting implies an agreement between two parties of an exchange of a good or service for money, which is not always what’s occurring. I think “sharing” is a better descriptor, and I also think it’s just getting started and won’t be going anywhere in 2015.

  6. “Laser focus” and “maniacal focus”and “magic” and the term “smart” being abused to death but who cares,it’s just language.
    And a special prize for Intel for managing to abuse the term :”power harvesting” in it’s smart earbuds marketing, By their definition plugging something in a wall socket would be power harvesting. Takes a lot to go that far…..

    Or we can go a bit extreme and drop the term “social media” and replace it with “personal PR”. Just like ridesharing is not ridesharing anymore, social media is not social media anymore.