Who doesn’t love an IT cliché? We’re all guilty of using them at one point or another. They roll off the tongue, make you feel part of the club when you say them and sound super-cool to your audience. Or do they?
The definition of a cliché is a phrase or term that’s been overused to such an extent that it’s lost its original meaning, to the point that it has even become a bit annoying.
So even though we all use clichés from time to time, it might be good to use this time of year to pause and reflect on phrases and words we’ve been using.
Some of the words on this list might surprise you. You might think ‘they’re not clichés, they’re just normal words’. If that’s how you feel, hear us out.
They’re funny things, clichés. We use them to save time or space, when we assume that the people we’re talking to know what we mean. But that makes us lazy. We become more credible, more persuasive and more likeable when we provide more detail and explain exactly what we mean, whether our speciality is technology, marketing or business, and whomever we’re talking to.
Without any further ado, here are 5 IT clichés the Grinch is welcome to steal this Christmas:
The phrase ‘enterprise-class’ refers to IT that is fit for enterprises (larger organisations), rather than smaller companies or individuals. It therefore means IT that meets greater requirements for availability, compatibility, reliability, scalability, performance and security. Writing out the definition makes it all seem very reasonable. The trouble is, some people outside of IT may not be familiar with what enterprise-class means. And even amongst those that think they know, there are no firm standards or official certifications. That’s why going forward, we’re going to try and show you what advantages we can really bring to the table. Hopefully this will help your talks with the business and getting that final seal of approval.
Keeping the lights on
This is a well-used phrase in IT, meaning ‘basic systems and infrastructure maintenance’. It’s problematic for several reasons, over and above being a phrase that’s so widely used it’s become annoying.
The first problem is that people outside of IT, such as business leaders or decision makers, might not know what it means.
The second problem is that it seems to belittle the effort and skill required to maintain today’s systems and infrastructures (especially when used in conjunction with the word ‘just’) – there’s a lot more value in this undertaking that the phrase suggests. It gives the impression that maintenance is basic and easy, which it is not.
The phrase is also used a lot to compare to innovation, but we would argue that the two shouldn’t have to compete with each other. And in fact, a lot of innovation can occur that relates to the maintenance of this infrastructure itself.
We’ve just used this word in the previous section to mean ‘creation of a new product, idea, product or service’. The trouble with using it again and again is that it becomes a bit of a cliché and a bit meaningless. It’s better, where possible, to give examples of innovation. For example, launching a new service.
In Proact’s case, being more specific in this way will better bring to life one of the benefits of engaging us to provide, say, a managed service – the ability to focus on ‘doing new stuff’, instead of having to focus, all the time, on maintaining what currently exists.
Here’s a word that makes it on to many a Grinch’s cliché hit list, because it’s used to mean so many things, including: tools, applications, software, systems, technique, strategy, methodology process, framework and technology. But we all use it and it’s sometimes it seems to fit best, especially when juxtaposed with the word ‘problem’, as in a solution to a problem. At other times, it’s vague and unspecific and just replacing it with another word isn’t necessarily good enough.
That’s why in 2019 we’ll continue to work to be original and clear, and to say what the thing we’re calling a ‘solution’ actually does and how it benefits people.
We’ve saved the best until last. We talk about agility a lot, not least because our strapline ‘delivering business agility’ encompasses the value we bring to customers – the ability to move fast, save time, save money, and stay ahead of the competition.
This value might be lost if we simply rely on repeating a word over and over again, so in 2019 we’re going to explore how we can talk about agility in more detailed and specific ways, to bring our customers’ stories and use cases – and the value we bring – to life.