The Buzz

“They just want to hear the buzz words.” A business development person at a major IT consulting firm, explaining why my semantic technology brief was too involved for their senior executives.

Anyone running marketing today, especially if the product and service involve sophisticated software, is forced to pay attention to buzz words. You have to pay attention for the following excellent reason – people will be searching on those words. Even the reluctant follower of buzz words is forced to join in.

But out of respect for our customers’ intelligence, a little something about the life of buzz words. Here’s a bit of buzz word exegesis.

Buzz words are the efflorescence that oozes out from some fundamental underlying problem. They are a sort of meta-indicator. Buzz words have a half-life of a year or two. As they are purely marketing devices, longevity is not required. After the buzz word is gone the problem will remain. But in their youth, when a new buzz word catches on, relevant and often irrelevant websites light up as if a switch were thrown. After 9/11 everyone marketing to the DOD and the Intelligence Community became “anti-terrorism focused”. And just to drive home the point, put an image of an F-22, a Bald Eagle, and an American flag on their websites. The same thing is happening with “Cyber”. Everyone does “cyber security” something now. Everything from privacy foils to keep prying eyes off your laptop screen to impenetrable thumb drives are now on the cyber bandwagon.

Buzz words arise when some major vendor wants to spin up a new marketing campaign to make money from an old problem, or when vendors smell money, as in the “cyber” phenomenon, or, I believe, when VC want to pump up a start up that lives on the buzz word. Then everyone jumps in and the market resembles nothing so much as six-year olds playing soccer – everyone stumbling around the ball and no one is guarding the goal.

Some new candidates are: big data, graph databases, and data sentience. No, I’m kidding about that last, but let’s see if it catches on. Honestly, “semantics”, “semantic technologies” and “ontology” have, ironically, lost all meaning in the context of the “semantic technology” market space. So that’s a third way for buzz words to arise. The phrase or word starts out legitimate but then gets hijacked by a tide of late comers whose point of departure is not technology but marketing.

But it can be hazardous to avoid using buzz words. A good friend told me, “Mike, it’s too bad you aren’t into big data and aren’t a graph database. That’s what everyone is talking about.” It was a lovely day. A wake of buzzards circled a clot of bureaucrats leaving the office building next door. A charming scene. I counted to ten and broke a few wooden pencils that I keep for just such an occasion. Having calmed myself I explained that we are involved in “big data” and always have been and that we are the preeminent form of “graph database” – we use a Hypergraph structure in our SemFed solution and XKS. And “hypergraph” here is not some hyperbolic marketing term; it is a mathematical description of a graph whose edges can have multiple vertices. This has to do with our system being capable of n-arity, which is one reason why our system is capable of complex reasoning and therefore analyses, er, I mean, analytics. Sorry, “just the buzz words”. I lost control for a moment.

Now I realize that “graph database” can have many meanings not encompassed by what HIGHFLEET offers. But, the question shouldn’t be, “Is your product a graph database?” The question should be, “Does your product solve my problem?” Otherwise you are looking for your lost keys under the street lamp of someone’s marketing.

So, you see the issue. HIGHFLEET, too, has to use buzz words on its website. You will see material on the site with such words as “sense making”, “analytics” (which Spellcheck keeps trying to correct as it is not a word), MDM (for Master Data Management), and others. HIGHFLEET will post the buzz words, but rest assured we will be pursuing solutions not chasing the buzz words. The underlying problem behind big data, sense making, analytics, and even MDM is that firms and government organizations long ago won the war to capture data, and now it is stovepiped, corrupted, opaque and inaccessible – firms can’t get to their data and can’t understand what it means so that it can drive operations and strategy.

HIGHFLEET solves that problem. So contact us and let’s drill down to the fundamentals of your particular problem. And if we can’t help we will say so. HIGHFLEET does not assume you have a nail because we have a hammer.

Michael Davis