10 Most Exaggerated Tech Terms

You're a "leading cloud expert" with a "robust solution" that will be "generally available" in "early 2011"? Sure you are. Here's CIO.com's guide to cutting through the year's most overblown technology terms.

So much in the high-tech world that should be factually airtight—as in: it's either 4G speed or it's not—is, instead, always up for marketing's misappropriation, your CEO's hyperbolic exaggeration or a sales rep's truth bending.

In other words, the true meaning for some technologies or services is that it depends on who you are talking to.

Here are my 10 favorite (and most frustrating) tech terms that have been altered, contorted and massaged by some of today's leading tech vendors.

1. Cloud Computing: If there's an Internet connection somehow involved, then it's definitely in the "cloud." Right? Wrong! (And, for what it's worth, attaching "Cloud-Based" to something is even sketchier!)

2. 4G Speeds: Hmmm, the malleability of 4G is reminiscent to when the "broadband" label was applied to dial-up "up to" speeds. C'mon wireless carriers, you aren't telling the truth!

3. Leading Vendor: If by "leading vendor" you mean a "seven-person staff, with five customers (one of whom is your uncle) and a desperation to be acquired really, really soon," then I guess all those startups actually have every right to use the marketing slogan.

4. Online Security: Right now, there's a guy in Estonia sneering at your "security solution." Hey, maybe we'll fix this next decade?

5. Valued Partner: Except when that partner decides not to renew its licensing agreements, and then the vendor treats that valued partner the way Michael Corleone treated his valued brother Fredo.

6. Don't Be Evil: How 'bout just a teensy, weensy bit evil when we feel like it, because we have good intentions?

7. Facebook Privacy: FB's privacy policies (automatic opt-in!) seem to change as often as Zuckerberg's T-shirts.

8. Thought Leader: If you've ever had a decent thought (or perhaps even two or three insights) that you Tweeted or shared on Facebook, that does not make you a thought leader (or guru or influencer or expert).

9. Generally Available: If a vendor's product is still having its "tires kicked" by a "select set of customers" (otherwise known as beta testers) and has got more bugs than The Roach Motel, then it's not close to GA, folks.

10. Robust Solution: I just threw up in my mouth.

[ For more skewering of the tech world, see CIO.com's take on Gartner's Hype Cycle and Forrester's Wave Chart. ]

Thomas Wailgum covers Enterprise Software, Data Management and Personal Productivity Apps for CIO.com. Follow him on Twitter @twailgum. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline. E-mail Thomas at twailgum@cio.com.

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