Business Technology Writing/Content

4 Tech Buzzwords to Ditch in 2020

The tech industry is fueled by buzzwords and hype. The irony is that even the people who claim to hate these buzzwords keep using them. It’s a self-feeding fire that breeds new monsters (read: senseless buzzwords) every day.

Copywritech, the digital agency I run, caters only to tech companies. So my entire team and I know these buzzwords all too well. And yes, we may be guilty of using some of them. But not of overusing them.

Here’s the thing: tech buzzwords aren’t evil per se. They become evil when we use them too much. This is when they become hollow of meaning. In fact, if you take a close look at tech websites, you’ll see that most of these buzzwords are improperly used.

Let’s take a closer look at these terms and what we can replace them with:

1. Digital transformation

Yes, digital transformation is a thing that exists. And it can be beneficial for any company. But it’s not a silver bullet and it’s definitely not everything a company needs to rule their industry.

I’ve seen this term used by tech startups that sell anything, from social media management tools to project management add-ons and productivity apps. The fact that you adopted one of these solutions doesn’t mean that you are “digitally transformed”.

Here’s a scenario that does spell digital transformation. A company that:

  • Keeps financial records on paper
  • Emails every contact in their list separately
  • Posts everything on social media by hand
  • Keeps logs of their leads either on paper or scattered across various departments

…desperately needs digital transformation. 

If they adopt an ERP (for their financial records), an ESP (to send automated newsletters and email campaigns), a social media management tool (to schedule posts in advance) and a CRM (to manage their leads) then they have undergone digital transformation.

Then you can use this term.

What to use instead: if the above example doesn’t match the situation you’re in (or the one your client is in), refer to the precise area in which a certain improvement through tech is identified. Small improvements are important, too!

2. Disruptive

I have read about very few tech solutions that weren’t disruptive. Or at least that weren’t called that way.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “disruptive” as “disrupting or tending to disrupt some process, activity, condition, etc.: causing or tending to cause disruption”. The first meaning of the word makes us think about something sort of bad, but in a different way. A rebel. Something cool.

So it’s no wonder that tech startups jumped on the bandwagon.

The only problem?

Very few of the solutions that are advertised as “disruptive” can actually disrupt something. Better yet, disruption is not something you see coming. That’s the whole point.

So, when you create something for your SaaS content marketing strategy, talk to your product managers and engineers. Ask them if they can associate their own creation with disruption. If they’re being honest, you’ve got a 99.9% chance they’ll say no, despite their own feelings for the word itself.

What to use instead: how about something really simple? You know, like tech writing for non-tech audiences should be anyway. Try “brand new” instead.

3. Agile

Sometimes, the tech world feels like a jungle. With all this “agile” thrown around at every turn of phrase, you half expect a puma, a lion or a panther to jump out of the screen.

Yet, they never do.

What jumps at you instead is the lack of originality and term knowledge – granted, both of them are better than a huge feline. But when you write for a living like we do at Copywritech, it feels like all that “agile” is clawing at your eyes.

In order to avoid abusing this term, let’s understand it better.

Agile is a project management methodology created to replace waterfall, another methodology that was deemed obsolete by some. We won’t get into this feud here, it’s neither the time nor the place. 

Bottom line: you can use the term in phrases like: “our company made the switch from waterfall to agile project management last month.”

You shouldn’t use it to say: “we need to see more agile”. Typically, if it’s not connected to the project management methodology, the word should be replaced.

What to use instead: “we need to move faster”. Because that’s what typically people who use the term “agile” really need. 

4. Big data

How BIG is big data, really? We’ve already got data lakes, data siloes and more. Then we’ve got terabytes and petabytes of data. But how many of them does it take to make data BIG?

The truth is there are no limitations. Nor should there be, because the amount of data a company deals with is typically connected to their own size. And what feels like a drop in a data lake to a corporation might feel like a whole ocean to a SME.

So size doesn’t really matter. It’s more about how you use and leverage your data.

Oftentimes, when people say “big data” what they really mean is data analytics or data science. 

So, avoid saying: “use big data to grow your business exponentially”. This means nothing. 

What to use instead: “use big data analytics to grow your business exponentially”. Can you spot the difference? Data itself, no matter how big, is completely useless. When you analyze it properly and derive actionable insights from it, then you’ve got something to leverage.

Wrapping things up

Of course, you can write anything you want and use any of these buzzwords (and more!). The Grammar police isn’t real police. But your readers may fine you in other ways.

You see, people are fed up with buzzwords. They know they mean nothing. And they will assume you used them to hide the fact that your product or service doesn’t have that much value. 

My recommendation: speak and write like a human. You are speaking to other humans, after all. Be frank and explain what your solution does and how it does it. That’s all you need to win hearts and wallets.

Need help with crafting the right message to your readers? My team is made up of marketers, engineers and copywriters so we can deliver tech content that’s accurate and high-converting! Take a look at our case studies to learn how we’ve helped other tech companies and let’s talk!

About the author


Adriana Tica

Adriana Tica is a trend analyst, marketer and writer with 15+ years in the field. She owns two digital marketing agencies, Idunn and Copywritech, and a recently-launched consulting business. On SiteProNews, she shares Ideas to Power Your Future on topics like digital trends, marketing, SEO, copywriting, and more.