Buzzwords Bingo

Buzzwords and buzz-phrases are everywhere and our careers might depend on tracking the right ones.

Here’s some wrong ones that, when put together form a read-made corporate strategy statement: “At the end of the day, a Gen-X, customer-centric, value-added paradigm which aligns our core competencies for synergy is a win-win!” – feel free to use it if you are applying for any newly opened CEO jobs.

In marketing terms, buzzwords are defined as “A trendy word or phrase that is used more to impress than explain”. Marketing folks by their nature want to put a catchy name to everything so there are plenty of buzzwords in the marketing domain. Business in general has its own buzzword backlash.

While marketing folks want to give a name to everything, IT folks want to give an acronym to everything. Like pithy names, acronyms are ripe for becoming buzzwords. Recent must-utters by the technically talented include SOA, Ajax, XML and SaaS.

Yet, what do you think of this premise:

Our careers can take giant jumps by getting involved in efforts at their early stages – which is also when they are most likely to be viewed as nothing more than buzzwords. When a marketing strategy, advertising opportunity, referral strategy, IT language, technology, or business model is young is the time to get involved. Not when it is mature.

Investing in and learning a mature language or technology is like buying a company’s stock at its high because of all the successes they’ve had over the years. Learning and becoming an early expert in an emerging business model, language or technology is like getting in on the ground floor of a company. There may not be a large pay-out now, but there might be great growth opportunity ahead.

Instead of deriding buzzwords as a passing fad, we should pick a few and learn more about them and identify ones that may become the next skill and experience in demand.

You cannot go back in time. When what is a buzzword today becomes increasingly successful tomorrow, only those that have been working under that buzzword for the years leading up to its breakout will be able to say they have more experience and knowledge than most anyone else. Those derided as buzzword-chasers will find themselves their industry’s experts.

Business evolves quickly (every business today is tied to technology to a degree that almost all of business moves at the rapid pace once directly associated only with “technology”). So it does not take much time for your investment today in working with a relatively new idea, language, framework, or business model to pay off when you find yourself an expert in it next year. The hard part, like in trading stocks, is knowing which relatively immature technologies will succeed and grow and which will remain in buzzword purgatory.

The point is don’t immediately write off something new in your industry that appears over-hyped as only a buzzword. “Buzzword” could be just a phase that an emerging trend passes through. Being the subject of hype or buzzwords does not equate to being a passing fad.

Do you agree?

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