Paul Kurt Haberfellner
In my long years as an IT consultant, I have always tried to understand and grasp my client’s task so that I can comprehend their language and the way they think. Recently, however, I have been “calibrating” fashionable art terms (read IT buzzwords) strikingly often. Keywords such as IoT, Analytics, Big Data are growing from highly complex buzzwords to overwhelming conversation bubbles that fill the space. How is it that IT hides behind these slogans nowadays, but ultimately makes such slow progress?
Most IT trends deal with innovation – business transformation, automation, Industry 4.0, to name a few. The term “innovation” alone divides opinions. Some think of it as referring to new inventions (derived from its Latin origin), others refer to the development of existing structures – which makes a huge difference in IT.
However, innovation is often used as a catchphrase for all those question marks to which the company does not have a clear answer to yet. Against the backdrop of the propagated reinvention of the (economic) social order, innovation is no longer a matter for the motivated inventor spirit. No, we are talking about it as a sword of Damocles descending on us like the space ship in the movie Independence Day.
Fortunately, marketing departments of international giants come to IT’s rescue. Above all, US companies are providing us with a bundle of buzzwords that fit into the story as required. With the vocabulary provided, technology terms such as IaaS, SaaS, AI and API can be paired wonderfully with great slogans such as business disruption, digitalization or IoT. Innovation is the icing on the cake and there you have it… yes, but, what exactly is this “it”? This "it" is the creation of an innovation driven culture in an organization where people can collaborate with limitless possibilities.
In the end, the result of this buzzword bingo is not progress, but rather blockades, misunderstandings and a lot of open questions. Therefore, IT teams get lost in supposedly understood work orders until it turns out that the task list was unclear or that it cannot be implemented single-handedly by IT in the first place. Other projects turn into 5-year tasks because they are unable to clarify the tendering catalog.
Two things are fact: cryptic technical terms frighten companies to invest in new technologies. And secondly, a buzzword does not provide a solution, even if it likes to pretend to tackle a range of topics with one product.
One speaks as one thinks. Therefore, I am firmly convinced that we take the first step towards solutions with our choice of words and discussions. Listening and talking in clear statements, asking the right questions will never go out of fashion in consulting. Let's leave the marketing rock stars on stage and focus on renewal issues that are tangible and feasible. Through action, with prototypes, but also with the courage to reject ideas, we find the inspiration necessary for progress. Sounds mundane? Wait for my next blog devoted to possible solutions.