Been There, Done That

There are a handful of over-worked phrases that make me cringe; that drive me crazy; that, when used in casual conversation, might induce me to attack the offender with the sharp end of a staple remover. You know most of them: Been there, done that. Is that your final answer? Don’t go there!

But we in high-tech have our little phrases too. Phrases that we use too much. Buzzwords we toss around like footballs. Terms and jargon so over-done, we've totally screwed up their meaning.

Here's the list of the most over-used terms and phrases in high-tech, and the definition of what they really mean:

>24 by 7
When you and 6 other folks have to do the work of two-dozen people, most of whom left months ago to join some Internet start-up.

>5 feet
The width of the entrance through which you're trying to push a 5' 6" power distribution unit.

>50,000 feet
The level at which most Executives want to hear about technology.

>Achieving competitive advantage
The way you convince management to buy some incredibly overpriced software.

>Best practices
What it takes two years to achieve, and by then they're not anymore.

>Competitive salary and benefits package
What they offered the guy who replaced me, even though I wasn't making squat.

>Continuous availability
What happens when your boss makes you wear a pager.

>Cost-effective solution
Getting the vendor to knock 25% off the price, since management never went along with that "achieving competitive advantage" stuff.

>Critical path
The tasks that were assigned to the guy who just went on vacation.

>E-Business initiative
What you call every IT project from here on out, or it won't have a ghost of a chance of getting funded.

>E-Business strategy
What companies wish they'd had before they jumped into their third consecutive disjointed, behind-schedule e-business initiative.

>High-flying technology company
An employer that makes you travel 6 days a week.

>Internet speed
Making mistakes faster, then making sure more people see them.

>Internet start up
The stock started up, but by the time I sold, it was 78% off its high.

>Leading-edge handheld technology
Technology so new and confusing that you have to lead the consulting team by the hand, even though you're paying them $240/hour.

>Leveraging core competencies
Convincing management to let you keep doing what you're doing today, because you sure as hell don't want to try anything new.

What your competitor has even though you spent a gazillion dollars on mindshare.

What you have to spend a gazillion advertising dollars on before you get marketshare.

See "Nice-to-haves"

>Next available representative
The vendor's single point of contact the day after you sign on the dotted line.

Projects we'll put off to next year

>On-site customer account manager
The vendor's single point of contact before you sign on the dotted line.

>Site stickiness
How well your Web site attracts and keeps eyeballs

>Site yickiness
What you have if you don't have site stickiness

>Wireless network
Moving your whole department to another floor, then finding out the cabling company is running 6 weeks behind.

Mike Cohn lives in Atlanta, where he's glad he's not 365 by 7.