In today’s marketplace, the latest “tech talk” isn’t confined to the tech department. With so many businesses heavily dependent on technology, keeping an eye on the latest tech industry headlines and trends happens everywhere from the CEO’s office to the employee break room (or in many cases these days, employees’ living rooms).
This has led to the wide use of tech “buzzwords” such as “digital transformation,” “agile,” “disruption” and many others. But does everyone using these terms really know what they mean? Or is “talking tech” easier than implementing true change that could benefit the company and its customers?
Tech leaders know that to really benefit from what the latest tech products and processes have to offer, companies need to do more than talk the talk—they need to walk the walk. Below, 15 tech experts from Forbes Technology Council discuss the most overused tech buzzwords across industries today and explain why their misuse causes confusion and problems.
1. ‘Digital Transformation’
“Digital transformation” is often misconstrued. It’s really a seismic shift forcing organizations to better enable their teams and improve asset usage and customer experiences. In its wake, business outcomes and processes are more defined and they’re aligned with the right technology without hindering adaptation to new innovation and market demands—all while minimizing the risk of future economic impact. – Cindy Jaudon, IFS
2. ‘Cloud Migration’; ‘Cloud Transformation’
Many companies confuse “cloud migration” with a simple infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) model. True cloud transformation happens when an organization applies the cloud-first mindset across existing infrastructure, applications and data states and uses the cloud for business innovation with the right cloud operating and governance models. – Gaurav Aggarwal, Avanade Inc.
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3. ‘AI,’ ‘ML’ And ‘DL’
“Artificial intelligence (AI),” “machine learning (ML)” and “deep learning (DL)” are often misused. ML is a subset of AI, and DL is a subset of ML, each usually with increasing potential value—and complexity—as you move from AI to ML to DL. They’re usually misrepresented rather than accurately described. This creates confusion and unrealistic expectations and is a disservice to solutions based upon real AI, ML and DL. – Ken Steinhardt, Infinidat
4. ‘Robotic Process Automation’
“Robotic process automation (RPA)” is often used as a catch-all for all types of workplace automation, but it’s misleading. RPA is an old term that typically refers to simple, PC-based task automation. Enterprise automation is much broader and includes end-to-end workflow automation across mission-critical apps, which requires deep integration and security to ensure enterprise readiness. – Bhaskar Roy, Workato
5. ‘Cybersecurity Awareness’
The “cybersecurity awareness” storyline asserts that humans are the weakest link and the reason why technologies fail. This pushes companies to rely on training end-users to detect threats and reduce human error. The fallacy is that you can never train human error out of the equation. The only effective way to improve cybersecurity is to use technology that removes the end-user from the picture. – Aviv Grafi, Votiro
6. ‘Zero Trust’
Organizations must understand that “Zero Trust” is not a technology; it’s a mindset and a continuous journey that organizations have to undertake. Zero Trust needs to be a fabric running through all the layers of an organization and a core cybersecurity philosophy that every employee adopts to improve companywide security posture. – Vibhuti Sinha, Saviynt
If “DevOps” is only thought of as collaboration, culture, or continuous integration and continuous delivery, you limit its full potential. To achieve visibility into software performance for the desired ROI, you must fully understand product value streams and how they apply to the customer feedback loop while applying DevOps principles of culture, resilience engineering and continuous learning. – Neelan Choksi, Tasktop Technologies
“Agile” is an iterative development process where requirements and outcomes evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams. Too often, organizations implement a project management tool such as Jira without establishing the prerequisites of the agile process. This patchwork approach exacerbates core issues that negatively impact team dynamics and, hence, product delivery. – Ahmer Inam, Pactera EDGE
9. ‘Growth Hacking’
I wish I had an ETH for every time I have heard about a company that increased its sales and pipeline through “growth hacking.” While sales and pipeline growth may require new approaches, in post-pandemic or cloud marketplaces, it remains a systematic approach, with collective efforts across pre-sales, sales, consulting and partner enablement. “Hacking” is a short-term activity with questionable results. – Spiros Liolis, Micro Focus
10. ‘Patient-Centered Tech’
In healthcare, designing tech to be “patient-centered” doesn’t make it so. Tech must be applied and used in a way that advances whole-person care, thus making it an enablement tool for high-tech holistic medicine. Too often, technology that’s designed to improve care or experience is promoted as being patient-centered but often fails to recognize the importance of human-to-human touch points. – Trisha Swift, ZeOmega Population Health Solutions
11. ‘Blockchain Technology’
The use of the term “blockchain technology” outside of cryptocurrency—where it still has a long way to go before reaching mass deployment—is not right. It holds a hypothetical sense in terms of current technology adaptation; however, it is severely overused when referring to a multitude of industry enhancements and developments (data, mining, security and so on) in sectors ranging from e-commerce and real estate to politics. – Alex Dzyuba, Lucid Reality Labs
“Visionary” is one of the biggest buzzwords that tech companies use to describe themselves. In reality, it’s quite difficult to be “visionary”—able to plan or predict the future of your industry—and very few organizations are truly such. Avoid using the term to describe your company. Substitute it with a similar statement, and your audience will perceive you as more genuine. – Ivailo Nikolov, SiteGround
“Disruption” is an overused tech buzzword that often causes more problems than benefits. Tech leaders usually get so fixated on creating innovation and change to fuel “disruption” that they forget the fundamentals of their businesses that actually need attention. As the old adage goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” – Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC
14. ‘The New Normal’
2020 forced many companies and people to adapt to new technology in a short time. We did squeeze changes that would have taken 10 years into three months, but all that tech already existed. The laggards were simply motivated to adopt the tech earlier than they otherwise would have. Now, in 2021, we have all adapted. Give this some thought: There is a “new normal” every five years. – David Moise, Decide Consulting
15. ‘Control Tower’
As companies and consumers boost e-commerce use, many supply chain technology companies now offer a “control tower,” but the vast majority ignore the action-oriented element of a control tower. At airports, control towers “see” aircraft to “control” their movement. In supply chains, if the visibility doesn’t prompt actions to better serve customers, it’s not a real control tower. – Ken Fleming, Logistyx Technologies