TUCON: Technology Buzz Panel

Next up in the general session is the technology buzz panel, where “journalists, analysts, and industry experts square off on buzzwords of the day”. The moderator was Gary Beach of CIO Magazine, with panelists Frank Kenney of Gartner, Jason Maynard of Credit Suisse, Rob Strickland of T-Mobile USA, and Aaron Ricadela of BusinessWeek. Their initial goal is to eliminate four tech buzzwords (one per panelist):

  • Maynard picked “Web 2.0”, apparently not only because he thinks that it’s a bad term but because he doesn’t like social networking. There was discussion around the stage: Kenney railed against the term Web 2.0 but then used the ever-overused “paradigm shift”; Strickland said that he thinks there’s too many bugs in Web 2.0 and he’s waiting for 2.0.1; Ricadela commented on the new business models coming out of this, although he didn’t use the term “Bubble 2.0”.
  • Strickland picked “the business”, in the context of the dichotomy between IT and the business; as a CIO, he sees himself as an integral part of the business. I wonder if T-Mobile’s business users feel the same way; Maynard said that he felt that his IT department was actually a detriment to productivity sometimes, and admitted to using his own MacBook Pro and Gmail (interestingly enough, a Web 2.0 application) because IT wasn’t focussed on some of the business requirements. Kenney and Ricadela both talked about aligning IT and business, which of course just points out that the divide does exist.
  • Ricadela picked “business process management”, because he believes that it’s become a catch-all term for anything to do with business improvements enabled by technology. He blames the analysts and vendors for the confusion: given that Gartner helped to promote this term in its infancy and created a tremendously confusing landscape that in turn allowed vendors to promote everything as BPM, I’d have to agree to a certain extent. Kenney feels that the term BPM is overused but should still exist; Maynard doesn’t appear to understand the distinction between BPM and packaged applications.
  • Kenney picked “enterprise”, saying that it’s not used consistently and is often just applied as a marketing buzzword: sometimes it means “within the four walls of a company”, sometimes it relates to scalability or other features of a system. Maynard points out that adding the word “enterprise”  to a software product allows vendors to charge more it, and thinks that it applies only to large companies.
  • Beach finished up by picking “virtualization”, which I identified yesterday as potentially just being an overused buzzword, so I’d have to agree.

They moved on to a discussion of several magazine headlines: “Is your company fast enough”; “No future in tech?” (which veered sharply into American protectionist rhetoric); various open source headlines (Maynard pointed out that open source is fundamentally changing the software industry, even those companies that are not open source); software as a service (nothing new here); and finally, can you trust analysts’ opinions given that they’re all sleeping with the vendors.

They finished with a lightening round with 30-second opinions on Web 2.0, gigabit everywhere, SOA, AJAX, and the future of enterprise applications.

All in all, a more entertaining panel than I’ve seen for a while.

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