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Decoding Business Buzzwords

published on: CNN

From "scalable" to "enterprise," many words enter our business lingo, but some say they're just mumbo-jumbo. Here's the plain English explanation of buzzwords that can leave you going "huh?": In the business world, we tend to be overly fond of fancy words and phrases, says a recent article from the Associated Press. For example, high-tech companies don't simply make products, they "provide solutions." And those solutions don't simply perform tasks, they give us "experiences."
In short, we've gotten carried away--something that tech terminology expert Alan Freedman realized when people started asking him to decode the marketing materials of technology companies. And this marketing speak is supposed to get people to purchase products.
Even Freedman, who's written technology encyclopedias for 25 years, is left confused by the latest slew of buzzwords. "The marketing people are so bad at hyping their products that, with all my experience, I'll have to read and reread and reread just to figure out what this thing does," Freedman, founder of The Computer Language Company Inc. in Pennsylvania, tells the Associated Press.

So here's a clarification of some words that are particularly annoying to many:

Scalable: This simply means that something can be expanded. Points out Fredric Paul, TechWeb editor-in-chief, who would love to banish this word for good, "My son is scalable, he's got built-in room to grow."

Enterprise: According to the AP article, Paul finds this word especially vexing, something that a Star Trek fan would say. Translation: "big company."

Viral marketing: A campaign that spreads very quickly. Supposed to be positive but sounds like something you don't want to catch.

Stickiness: A Web page quality that captures people's interest.

Blog: A combination of "Web" and "log." It's simply an online journal. More on it in this article.
Meanwhile, a hilarious Web log from Monster nominates 10 buzzwords for execution. Here's a few of them...

Best practices: Means a few so-so ways to get things done. Used when the best way eludes people.

FYI (For Your Information): Something to call a long e-mail thread of questionable relevance.
Action items: To-do's to pass off to other people in a meeting.

Think outside the box: According to the Monster post, "This is a way of saying, 'Don't think like you normally do--pretend you're someone smarter."


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