This year at Thanksgiving I gave thanks for family, friends, health, and business buzzwords. I got some funny looks.
A lot has certainly been written about buzzwords. Some have told us which buzzwords to stop using. Some have tried to explain why we use them in the first place. I myself have authored a post or two about the topic and even wrote a book listing all of the ridiculous things we say in the corporate world. It was therapeutic, and so I give thanks.
None of them seem to have made corporate buzzwords go away. Maybe buzzwords will always exist as we try to find creative ways to say things to simply cut through the noise.
Well as the expression goes, if you can't beat them, join them.
Since I can't get rid of buzzwords, I might as well use my buzzword crystal ball (which I got a great deal on this Black Friday) to try to give us a heads up about the top nine buzzwords we are probably going to abuse in 2017:
1. Disruptive technology
As technology releases get closer together and more competitive, we are probably going to hear this buzzword a lot. This begs the question of how disruptive your disruptive technology has to be for you to claim that it is truly disruptive versus just moderately irritating. I'll let someone else sort that out.
2. "AR" or Augmented reality
Pokémon Go made us all lose our minds for a while in 2016. Some of us even walked off of cliffs as we melded ourselves into augmented reality. That was just the beginning, though. I am prognosticating more talk about AR in 2017. Or am I already in buzzword AR and don't even know it?
3. "AI" or Artificial intelligence
The more likely prospects such as Google cars and other mind-bending AI innovation have to actually start making money for businesses, the more we are going to talk about AI (and of course the impending doom of the human race as a result of it).
I have to confess that I have coached and advised leaders to use stories to convey important things about their businesses because a good story resonates better than death by power point. Now we've got storytelling classes, storytelling departments, and even storytelling gurus. Once gurus come into the picture, we've officially hit buzz status.
5. Thought leadership
This buzzword was prevalent in 2016, and I still don't really know what it means. Unfortunately, it seems to be entrenched and positioned to bother us for another year. I've been trying desperately to think of a new term that could supplant it but question if I am enough of a thought leader to make that happen.
6. Social media influencers & monetization
Each of these could be separate buzzwords of their own. Why do we say monetization instead of "make money?" And what is a "social media influencer" anyway? Is that a real job? In 2016 it kind of started to become one. As we continue our obsession with how many followers it takes to make money, we'll talk about social media influencers. Maybe I'll actually become one and create a new term.
This buzzword got big in 2016 and seems to be staying big. I'm not sure I'll ever get used to referring to my business interdependencies using the same terminology we use to talk about global warming and our attempt to save the planet, though.
The pivot started as a basketball move in the low post but now has a firm grasp on the business community. We pivot to new business opportunities, leadership cultures, career paths, or anything else we can think of. Here's hoping we can pivot to a new term by the end of 2017.
Are millennials really a buzzword? They might be. They have become more than just another generational grouping. As more millennials enter the workforce replacing the retiring baby boomers, we will continue to spend a lot of time talking about the impact they are having on the intersection between business, technology, and our interpersonal lives. Maybe more importantly, we will continue to try to figure out why they break up with each other via text.
The good news about these buzzwords is that new ones will replace them at some point. In 2017, I'm going to put on my thinking cap, think outside the box, and ideate so I can develop some mindshare around some clever new ones to make my own list for 2018.