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The Two Most Abused Words in IT

Okay, okay! The title of this blog is designed to get some attention. The words chosen here are only my opinion, but I suspect most will agree that the IT industry engages in its unfair share of word abuse.

During my many years in sales, I have called on more companies than I can count.  A number of these visits stand out for various reasons, but one was unforgettable and made a huge impact on me to this day. The following is a true story.

In early 1999, I was selling Oracle ERP solutions and services in the Bay Area. A certain Silicon Valley startup was feeling very good about its business fortunes (remember the .com bubble?), anticipated significant growth, and wanted to make sure that its internal operating systems could scale and not inhibit them along the way.  These are generally good reasons to consider such systems and I quickly scheduled an introductory meeting and arranged for a number of my company consultants to attend.

The customer was represented by a team of Vice Presidents who constituted the software selection committee. As the meeting was starting, we were informed of a ground rule that would be in effect during the sales call.  Specifically, if the word “seamless” was uttered by anyone during the meeting, it would be terminated and we would be not only asked to leave, but eliminated from contention for their business.  And clearly they were drop dead serious about it.

Hey, no problem, right? WRONG! We were shown the door in 15 minutes! And it took me a couple weeks to talk my way back in to the account. But the lesson was learned. Our choice of words (written and verbal) can make the winning or losing difference when creating impressions. This particular prospect wanted honesty and accuracy and would settle for nothing less along the way.

Seamless is my second choice. I have grown to hate hearing it these days. But there is a second word that irritates me even more. And that word is “Integrated”.

Everything is now integrated. Have you noticed? Hardware, software, vertical solutions, disparate systems, peanut butter and jelly, and even oil and water.

What is the definition of “integrated” anyway? And whatever happened to “interfaced”. Perhaps integrated sounds better than interfaced or it has a better connotation. But actually interfaced is the more frequent and accurate reality in most software solutions today. There is a big difference between the two, but I am not going into that now. That is not the point of this blog.

I would love to hear from others on this topic. What other IT words (or acronyms) just set you off these days?

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