Why can’t our booming tech sector bin the babble?

Caveat: No need for jargon; Barista sector full of beans; Leslie Buckley’s dilemma

If Ireland fancies itself as a bastion of the US technology industry in Europe, then we must also accept that Ireland is a bastion of brain-busting technobabble.

If Ireland fancies itself as a bastion of the US technology industry in Europe, then we must also accept that Ireland is a bastion of brain-busting technobabble.

 

The latest addition to the list of my favourite websites is www.makebullshit.com. It’s a splendid sending up of the nonsensical babble that permeates the technology sector, the “bullshit” that has become the international language of the industry.

Need some mindless technological platitudes that should sound good on your company’s website? Running short of pointless jargon to melt what’s left of your customers’ heads? Just log on to the website, fix the phrase generator button to “tech” and make some bullshit to do the job.

Soon, you’ll be spouting all about the need to “enhance proactive channels”, or “strategise viral applications” or even “streamline some mission critical portals”. It could be perfect for your brochure or to fill the gaps in your next big tech meeting

If Ireland fancies itself as a bastion of the US technology industry in Europe, then we must also accept that Ireland is a bastion of brain-busting technobabble. We’ve also grown fond of grandiose verbal swaggering, the bragging that marks out the industry in the US for its hubris. The latter issue is separate – but still related – to technobabble.

The vanguard of the US web sector – whose influence affects the tech industry at every level in Ireland – haven’t just changed the way people interact, they have also changed how many people in this country speak. Quite often, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but even when it does, it can make people sound full of themselves.

‘Reach out’

For example, nobody sells stuff in the tech sector anymore, they “deliver solutions”. Some deliver “multi-tiered solutions”, which presumably is layers of bullshit stacked on top of each other. People no longer contact each other, they “reach out”. They don’t innovate as much as they used to, but they appear to be continually “disruptive”.

“End-to-end” used to be a descriptor for an exciting football match, but now, apparently, it can be some sort of a solution. Everything must be “scalable” or a “deliverable” or an “action-ready insight”. Ah yes: action that for me, there, please. Since when has “action” been acceptable as a verb?

Admittedly, this isn’t a new problem: various industries have always had their own cliquey patter. It’s just that the tech/web industry has taken it to an entirely different level. If self-important bluster was an Olympic sport, the sector would be crossing the line for gold before the rest of the economy had got out of the starting blocks.

Here is a prime example of the tech sector wind-bagging from the Irish website of US tech components company, Arrow: “Innovators live in the world of Five Years Out. Where their flashes of brilliance collide with millions of our practical components to form smarter solutions for all of us. Shaping the tangible future of everything . . . At Arrow, we fuel their innovation through distinctive market solutions.”

I’m not entirely sure what the bulk of that paragraph means.

Now it has soaked through from our US imports into our indigenous tech sector. Try this for a Jesus complex from Cubic Telecom: “They call us dreamers, and we’re fine with that . . . At Cubic, we believe in the future of things.”

Who doesn’t believe in the future of things, in fairness?

“A future where everything is intelligent and connected . . . Our vision of the future will make the world an even more interactive and inspiring place to live. We are leaders in delivering connected intelligence.”

I accept that Cubic can say whatever it wants to say to sell its stuff. But, really, is there any hubris like tech hubris?

Sometimes tech bluster is just unnecessarily dense and elitist, which, to me, signifies a lack of confidence and an innate neediness, a desire to belong. Why not ditch the exclusive jargon and talk simply in a way that most people will understand?

What?

For example, how about this from Dublin-headquartered network company Aspire Technology:

“At Aspire, we deliver E2E network solutions to reduce CAPEX and OPEX . . . Through our niche consultancy tackling the toughest network challenges for global mobile operators, innovative approach and automated solutions methodologies have emerged. These solutions, coupled with our professional services experts, have continued to maintain our clients’ competitive positioning with high marks from industry benchmarking audits . . .

“Our nSpire SaaS [software as a service] solution is truly the next generation of Customer Experience Management (CEM). In addition to delivering traditional CEM business cases, nSpire delivers improved customer satisfaction levels, while increasing NPS [net promoter score]. The solution offers value based services to subscribers via the nSpire Smartphone App. By offering enhanced services to the end customer, nSpire increases NPS while reducing support/operational costs.”

What is any of that supposed to mean? Is it that Aspire supplies software that helps mobile operators’ network infrastructure run more efficiently, and that it also runs an app to tell mobile users when their network is down? So why not just say that?

Perhaps the “bullshit” works. Aspire, owned by entrepreneur Bill Walsh, announced 150 new jobs earlier this year. Irish tech start-ups raised about €817 million of venture capital funding in the first nine months of the year, so investors don’t care either.

Maybe all of this bluster and bragging, which can sound so alien to an Irish ear, is the way of the future. Perhaps the tech sector’s nonsensical babbling isn’t the end of the world. Is it?

FOOTNOTES

Barista sector is full of beans

Perhaps one reason why techie types babble so much is that millennials who make up most of their number stereotypically drink a lot of coffee. Too much caffeine does strange things to people. The enforced absence of it does even stranger things.

The employment website Jobs.ie is reporting that demand for baristas (coffee-making specialists) has surged by almost 400 per cent in the last five years. The number of vacancies for baristas this year is up 55 per cent, says the website, on the back of store openings by foreign coffee vendors as well as indigenous operators.

“Ireland’s love affair with the bean has no end in sight,” says Jobs.ie. “ Ireland has an unquenchable thirst for coffee, and Jobs.ie figures show that businesses across the country are eager to fill vacancies for baristas.”

Bord Bia reports that 75 per cent of Irish consumers drinks coffee daily, while 70 per cent of those drink more than one cup a day. The industry is growing strongly.

All of which helps to give further perspective to the recent hysterical rantings from some within the indigenous coffee shop sector about the supposed aggressive takeover by Starbucks.

Starbucks isn’t taking over. It is taking up some of the slack.

Leslie Buckley’s dilemma

The court hearing on December 18th in the bid by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement to force Leslie Buckley, chairman of Independent News & Media, to hand over documents for of its investigation into INM should bring a bit of seasonal excitement.

If INM has “fully complied” with the ODCE’s document requests and says it is fully co-operating, yet its chairman is being pursued for documents, for how much longer can he remain chairman while all this is going on?

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