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The information technology (IT) industry is alive with buzzwords (BW). The management of BW represents a significant area for improvement for both the BW users (BU) (for example, vendors, analysts, and consultants), BW consumers (BC) (mostly end-users), and BW fellow travelers (BFT) (for example, the media). BW lifecycle management (BLM) is a proven discipline being applied to this crying need within the software industry.
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A BW is a word or phrase that enters the collective mind of the marketplace (MP) and that signifies some set of ideas. To become a true BW, it must be universally applied and lose all meaning.
BWs are often supplemented with acronyms. Acronym lifecycle management (ALM) is a closely related science to BLM. The creation of the BW versus the acronym is often a chicken and an egg issue: which comes first is often driven by how clever the acronym is (with the BW designed to fit the clever acronym). If the BW comes first and it gains acceptance, an acronym is usually created with the intent of pointing out to those people not in the know that they are not in the know, to the benefit of those who are in the know. (Why is it that no acronyms exist for acronyms?)
The lifecycle of a BW is described by the well-known IRCED2 cycle:
Invention: BWs are not discovered: they are invented (hence, the process of BW invention [BWI]). They do not occur in nature, only in the minds of a select group of people, the BW creation resources (BCRs), typically located in the marketing department (MD) of the BU. The motivation of the BCR is pure, as it is driven by financial considerations. A good BW will one-up the competition, sell more books, and allow the recycling of old reports with new covers. BUs have put significant BCRs in place to build and maintain a BW leadership position (BLP). The BW inventor (BI) positions the potential BW in the MP, with the MP deciding if it justifies true BW status. The primary determinant of BW acceptance is the MD budget of the BI. The MD budget is also known as the BW leadership capability (BLC).
Thus, we have seen BLM come from the minds of a few highly trained BCRs, and placed into the MP of BWs.
Recognition: If the MP accepts the BW, it has gained BW recognition (BWR2) status. BWR2 is signaled by three nearly simultaneous events. The market place remembers the BW, and competing BUs and BW followers (BF) begin using the BW. BWR2 also sees the first use of the BW from the BFTs. These events impact the meaning of the BW. The MP does not know the original meaning of the BW, so it either pretends to understand, or each member of the MP makes up its own meaning. The competitors use the BW, but assign a meaning that is more advantageous to them in terms of financial reward. The BFT focuses on the BW in a way that creates a "need to know," which leads to selling more magazines and books. Thus, BLM has reached BWR2 status in the MP of BWs, and has been copied and redefined to meet the needs of the masses. For example, this BFT has focused on BLM in order to gain its own recognition in the MP.
Compliance: BWR2 leads to a mass application of the BW to existing products, reports, ideas, and so on. BFs rush to apply the BW as often as their MD budget allows. Now, every BU seeking attention in the MP is using the BW. It is important to note that BW compliance (BWC) does not mean any change to the underlying products and ideas to which the BW is applied. The same products, reports, and ideas that existed before the BWR still exist without change. They have been relabeled with the BW in an attempt to get the MP to see their existing (old) products, reports, and ideas as "new."
Erosion: BW erosion (BWE) begins once the BW attains the status of BWC. Full BWC means that it no longer has any meaning. The word has been twisted in so many directions that no meaning exists. The BW begins to lose its ability to produce financial gain in the MP.
Derivations: As BWE is detected, the BW is extended or modified with the addition of one or more words. Typical words used for BW derivations (BWD1) include "based," "centric," "compliant," and so on. Thus, we see some sources claiming that they are BLM-based or BLM-centric. The word that signals the ultimate BWE is the prefix "true." Alas, the BWE of BLM has been signaled by the claim by some parties that they have true BLM.
Death: With both the passage of time (and more importantly, the entry of new BWs into the BW MP), the BW dies. BW death (BWD2) does not mean it is forgotten. BWD2 means that it is no longer a positive in the MP, but a negative. A BU clinging to a BW that has reached BWD2 is signifying that it is not "with it".
BCs should place those vendors with a tradition of BLP on their short list. These vendors have proven the ability to continually redefine the needs of the MP in their favor, creating significant value for the BLP.
Vendors-All vendors must decide on their BW strategy. Vendors choosing the BF strategy need to watch those with a BLP and quickly follow their lead. Those seeking a BLP should invest heavily in both BCR and BLC. If they are successful, they will be recognized for their BW superiority (BS).
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