Handy cliches reach maturity

But one area that has avoided the consolidation game, however, is the ‘big picture’ concept.

These are little phrases lovingly conceived and nurtured by analysts or industry-sponsored academics to describe, lead or even create a trend.

The current crop needs considerable tending if they are to grow into healthy overused cliches.

In the previously richly-manured soil of over-investment, way back at the beginning of this millennium, life was easy. You could lay down three little letters and up would pop an acronym that would get the stock markets and venture capitalists excited.

A meaningless phrase like ‘the new economy’ could become a global phenomenon.

Those were the days of the celebrity cliche. Today’s phrasemongers need to be more careful. Pretentious and portentous just don’t sell like they used to.

There’s an irony here. An unwritten law of 21st century IT states that ideas and technologies reach maturity just when everyone has written them off as immature. Most of the central criticisms of e-commerce, for example, have largely been resolved.

Big online ventures, like Amazon, are turning a profit; sites are now fast and user-friendly; security is vastly improved. But try telling the board that it’s time to invest again in web transactions.

Similarly, there is a need for conceptual frameworks right now.

Business needs to raise its head above the parapet and look at the strategic role of technology for gaining competitive advantage.

And the current crop of cliches are not the preening, self-important gaudy blooms of yesteryear.

On-demand or utility computing, the real-time enterprise, organic IT all suggest an era in which customer need is first and last in the technology suppliers’ thoughts.

The main emphasis is on value: proveable, efficient and effective measures of the contribution of technology to the business.

So when someone tries to sell you a handy phrase, give them a chance.

They may just be on to something.

  • Mike Gubbins is editor of Computing.

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