We're Drowning in Pointless Technology Jargon

Are we hitting a breaking point for clouds, platforms, solutions, and other product descriptions that say a lot but don't really do much?

Chris Wiltz

June 7, 2016

3 Min Read
We're Drowning in Pointless Technology Jargon

Platforms, cloud-based, end-to-end, solutions, synergistic ... words you can't escape if you pay attention to the technology industry in any way. Not a day goes by where some company doesn't unveil a new "disruptive innovation," "mobile platform," or "all-in-one solution," and it seems like everyone from your bank to your local fast food chain is doing something with the cloud or IoT.

But does any of it mean anything? Josh Horwitz, the Asia Correspondent for Quantz asked himself -- and some tech entrepreneurs -- the same question.

One entrepreneur described his company's product as a "know-how and synergy platform;" another from Canada described his company's app as visually organizing your "email and cloud-based content for ultra fast-access," adding that it is "visual storytelling with any type of content."

When asked to explain their product more clearly, the results are far less imaginative. The "visual storytelling" app organizes your email attachments into feeds based on file type and the "synergy platform" (Indy Cloud) is just a networked alternative to Microsoft Excel.

Michael Bergmann, the founder of Indy Cloud, seemed to completely miss the irony of his revised description of his company's product:

Bergmann isn’t happy describing Indy Cloud as a Microsoft Excel alternative, however. In his view, Indy Cloud “has a database solution.” It’s also “reactive.” Excel is neither of these things.

“I think the most accurate, concise, and jargon-free way to describe Indy Cloud is maybe ERP,” he says. “We are an enterprise resource planning solution.”

In an effort to make their products stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace more and more companies, and especially startups, are turning to highfalutin language in order to give their products a special shine that might attract investors (and later customers). Why be a Dropbox alternative when you can be a reactive, cloud-based file sharing solution? Why be a music service when you can be a streaming multimedia entertainment platform? Why call a device Internet ready/connected when it can be optimized for IoT? Heck, you can even gloss up a centuries-old product, as Horowitz writes:

Undone, a Hong Kong startup that makes custom-designed watches, describes itself as a “disruptive consumer brand with state-of-the-art customization technology with original content platform.”

... So, custom-made watches, right?

Hey, we get it. People are obsessed with image. While telling it how it is might earn you some respect, nothing draws eyeballs and ears like some good ol' fashioned exaggeration. Even the computer you're reading this on has probably been described as "the future of the laptop," "the ultimate desktop experience" or a device for "ultra mobility."

But maybe, even just every once in a while, it would be nice to clear through all the clutter and come down to reality.

Are you overwhelmed with industry jargon? Do you have any personal favorite bits of jargon? Share your stories with us in the comments!

Source: "Startups can't explain what they do because they're addicted to meaningless jargon" | Quantz 

Chris Wiltz is the Managing Editor of Design News

[image credit: jesadaphorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

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