And the Winning Replacement is…Tools?
By now, TEC’s Sherry Fox and herÂ Top 10 Most Ambitious White Paper Buzzwords has worked it’s way across the blogosphere quoted in a number of marketing-oriented blogs. And in an all too familiarÂ lemming-like way that is often seen in the blogosphere,Â that list has beenÂ repeated over and over again with gospel-like acceptance.
Since that list was posted last week, this blog has been the only source to challenge the #1 word on that list, “solution“. In my post, I challenged Sherry to come up a one-word replacement for the word she seems to so vehemently despise.
What was her replacement word?
Tools. Tools? Yes Tools. Now there’s a creative replacement. (Did you hear the pin drop?)
My response to Sherry was quite simple. The word “Tools” has a special meaning to software developers, many of whom read white papers with frequent regularity. To a developer, a tool is a program or application that software developers use to create, debug, maintain, or otherwise support other programs and applications. The term usually refers to relatively simple programs that can be combined together to accomplish a task, much as one might use multiple hand tools to fix a physical object. Therefore things such asÂ APIs are tools. COM or Corba objects are tools. Java is a tool.
Since the tech industry is the largest consumer of white papers, the issue of liberally replacing the word “tool” for “solution” in across a wide spectrum creates some inherent problems. For example, a business executive might see the words “network security solution” and “network security tool” as mutually synonomous. But a technical professional (such as an IT Director or CIO) that reads the very same paper will see the wordsÂ ”network security tool” asÂ a meansÂ to develop or debug network security functionality.
There’s an old expression that seems to fit here. “When you attempt to run headlong into making change for changes’ sake, make sure you don’t trip along the way and scrapÂ both of yourÂ knees.” (Pundit’s third law of motion).
When you attempt to change a very valid and useful word for the sake of being fashionably unique, you need to make sure that the replacement you selectÂ satisfies that same need without creating additional confusion. God knows there’s far too much of that already within technical marketing circles.
P.S. – I’m still waiting for a valid one-word replacement for “solution“. Anyone care to offer one?