Network World: 8 tech buzzwords that you need to know

Impress your friends at this year’s holiday gatherings by dropping a few of these terms

By  | Network World | Nov 17, 2014 3:00 AM PT

Buzzwords are a fact of life in the technology profession. Whether you’ve been in the industry for 30 years (remember WYSIWYG?) or for five (netiquette, anyone?), it’s a good bet you’ve incorporated techspeak into your everyday conversation, maybe without even knowing it.

As the global data tsunami continues to build, and a new wave of technologies from the consumer world hits IT, it’s not surprising that the buzzword count has surged. Here’s a look at eight of the hottest buzzwords being used today.

1. IoT (Internet of Things) or IoE (Internet of Everything)

The IoT is the chatty network that’s formed when the devices and “things” we use in our everyday lives – automobiles, thermostats, appliances, fitness bands, even toothbrushes – talk to each other through embedded technology and Web connectivity. While this term has been around for at least a decade, it’s only recently that the general public has fathomed its impact on our lifestyles.

“In the not too distant future, consumers will be able to tell their house to turn on the lights, unlock the doors, open the garage and report on how much milk is left in the fridge, all from the comfort of their car on their commute,” says Jeff Remis, branch manager of the IT division at the Addison Group.

“As technology continues to evolve, the more connected and automated every aspect of our lives will be.”

As a result, IoT is almost always brought up when industry pundits discuss “disruptive” technology trends. “Working for Ericsson, I hear this almost every day. With ideas like connected vehicles, M2M, and so on, this is very relevant,” says Samuel Satyanathan, director of strategy and engagement at Ericsson.

With the number of wireless connected devices exceeding 16 billion in 2014, according to ABI Research, which is 20% more than in 2013, some prefer the term “Internet of Everything.” “This is just an expansion of the “Internet of Things” to emphasize that everything is becoming a connected device, from mobile phones, appliances and cars, to animals,” says Ken Piddington, CIO at MRE Consulting. Indeed, ABI forecasts the number of connected devices will more than double from the current level, to 40.9 billion in 2020.

2. BYOE (Bring Your Own Everything)

Of course you’ve heard of BYOD, or “bring your own device,” which is the trend among businesses to allow employees to use their own personal mobile phones, tablets and laptops for work. But with the growth of mobile devices, including wearable technologies, some say the new umbrella term will be BYOE, or “bring your own everything,” Piddington says.

Already, Cognizant Technology Solutions has coined the term BYOHD, or “bring your own health device,” referencing the growing number of embedded or wearable devices that enable patients to collect data on vital signs, genetics, health history, fitness levels, activity levels, body-mass index, sleep patterns and more.

3. Dual Persona

Thanks to BYOE, another buzzword making the rounds is “dual persona,” which refers to mobile phones that enable people to maintain separate environments for personal and business use on the same device. “Users can have both a work and home profile simultaneously, and by separating these two personas, they can segment and protect personal and corporate data,” says Ashley Leonard, president and CEO of Verismic Software, a global provider of IT management solutions delivered from the cloud.

4. Wearables

When Google first released its plans for augmented reality glasses, or Google Glass, it was met with skepticism and a healthy number of parody videos. Even today, the device is seen by many as “odd but interesting,” as one blogger puts it. Still, while commercial success eludes most forms of wearable technologies today, the idea of wearing devices that would automatically consume, share, transmit, analyze and present vital information to or about us is no longer seen as a joke.

“This is a very trending development at the moment, from health devices to new mobile technologies, and is seeing rapid expansion and advancement,” Leonard says.

The wrist has been deemed the most realistic place for a wearable to be worn; witness the assortment of activity trackers and smartwatches that have made their way to the market from industry heavyweights like Samsung, Sony and Apple. However, it seems no area of the body will go unconsidered, with companies developing smart rings,insole sensors, glucose-level detectors inserted under the skin, posture-detecting pins and more. According to IDC, wearables have moved out of the early-adopter realm, with shipments exceeding 19 million units in 2014, more than tripling last year’s sales, and swelling to 111.9 million units in 2018, resulting in a CAGR of 78.4%.

5. Quantified Self

The buzz around wearable technologies is driving interest around what some call the “quantified self,” Leonard says, which is a movement geared toward gathering data about any aspect of your daily life and using that information to optimize your behavior. Chris Dancy, a top proponent of the trend, claims to have lost 100 pounds and kicked a two-pack-per-day smoking habit by logging and analyzing data on his everyday activities, including sleeping, eating and even his moods. Numerous meetups and forums now exist to support people interested in quantifying their own lives.

“If the advent in wearable technology is any indication, this term is one that will stick around, and Iam a huge fan of this idea,” Remis says. “Wearables are emerging to track insulin levels and even the air quality around you. The smart watch will be a big-ticket item this holiday season – and it’s just the beginning.”

6. XaaS (Everything as a service)

It all started with “software as a service,” but the as-a-service trend soon spread to a multitude of areas, including platform, infrastructure, storage, communications, network, monitoring and business process as a service. It’s no wonder, then, that many now simply say “everything as a service,” or XaaS (pronounced “zaas”). “I think it will start to become more widely used, as ‘everything’ is becoming available as a service,” Piddington says, even outside the technology realm. “You’ve got cars (ZIP Cars), housing (AirBnB), legal (LegalZoom) — the list continues to go on and on.”

Others prefer the more traditional nomenclature. “Personally, I am not a fan of this word and would still rather go with specific ones, like SaaS, PaaS, etc.,” Satyanathan says. For SaaS fans, Piddington offers the verb form, “SaaSified,” or the process of taking a traditional on-premise application and moving it to the cloud or making it available as a service. “I first heard this from a vendor of mine as they were describing how they were moving their core products to the cloud. I’ve been using it ever since,” he says. At least it’s more specific than cloud-ified.

7. Small Data

Once buzzwords hit their peak on the hype-o-meter, it’s not uncommon for industry pundits to rethink the meaning behind the word and hit upon more relevant variants. This is why you may have heard talk of “small data” and even “dark data,” Piddington says. Because big data is sometimes overkill for certain purposes, more people are starting to talk about small data, which according to the Small Data Group, connects people with timely, meaningful insights (derived from big data and/or “local” sources), and is organized and packaged – often visually – to be accessible, understandable, and actionable for everyday tasks.

Dark data, meanwhile, is the operational data that businesses collect but don’t optimize for competitive purposes, Piddington says. According to Gartner and other sources, the hazards of dark data range from lost business opportunity and higher than necessary storage costs, to security risks.

8. Ransomware

Ransomware refers to malware that infects a user’s computer and typically encrypts sensitive data until a ransom has been paid, Leonard says. An example is CryptoLocker, a damaging strain of malware that uses encryption to lock the most valued files of victim users. Many malware variants are now being created, “proving that ransomware is going to be an ongoing problem for home users and businesses alike,” Leonard says.

For companies, these types of attacks could have devastating consequences as local drives and corporate network data are all potentially encrypted, he points out. “Many victims who actually paid the ransom later reported that their data was never released, demonstrating the need for requirements of good security practices and strong IT management technology that allows all network endpoints to be actively managed and patched,” Leonard says.

So, where will the next buzzwords come from? If not from tech marketers, the answer will likely come from the “digital native” set, or the younger generations who have never known what it is like to not have constant and easy connectivity to the Web. For his part, Piddington keeps his ear tuned to the conversations of his 12-year-old son and his friends. Hence his use of the word “laggy.” “This is what he and his friends call a slow Internet connection. I seem to hear it said often when a large group of them are playing Minecraft,” Piddington says.

Brandel is a freelance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].