Enough with the IT journeys already!!!

Journey to the center of one of IT's most overused terms

1024px journey band
Credit: "Journey band" by Matt Becker/Wikipedia

If there was an over/under line in Vegas on how many times the word "journey" will be mentioned next week in keynote addresses and other sessions at the big Interop network industry conference, I'd go with the over -- pretty much no matter what number the oddsmakers set the line at.

If the badly behaved at next week's conference decided to make a drinking game of knocking back a shot every time an industry executive referred to a customer journey or a vendor's journey or a technology's journey, the trade show would be littered with passed out attendees (I beg you, don't try this.)

It's been 10 years since Lake Superior State University's Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness "banished" the term journey, whose rise to rampant overuse can pretty much be traced to the explosion of reality shows and sappy talk shows (The 2005 banished word list entry for journey: "Every single person on every reality show comments on how amazing the 'journey' was. Since when does dating a dozen nerds over a six-week span or conniving to win a million dollars over 15 other people qualify as a 'journey'?"). But such outcry over the term's use appears to only have emboldened tech vendors to wear it out in press releases and speeches.

The use of journey in tech circles has been on my nerves for years and those nerves were struck again this morning when reading about inventory management software company TradeGecko's new round of venture funding, and the company's obligatory reference to the long haul since launching 3 arduous years ago ("During our journey, we’ve had the support of great investors that truly believe in us.").

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The journey-fication of the tech industry has become so overwhelming that I subbed "The Journey Fund" as my idea when the venture capital company Formerly Known as Atlas held an online contest to name its next fund. I figured I couldn't lose since practically every startup plays the journey card.

google trends Google

Searches for the term "journey", via Google Trends

And it's not only startups that are abusing the word. To check that this jumble of journeys wasn't just my imagination, I plowed through this year's dose of press releases from popular wire services such as PR Newswire, Marketwired and Business Wire, and sure enough, there's more journey in there than I hear on a road trip through Connecticut while flipping through the FM classic rock stations. The term journey has shown up in 200-plus press releases on Marketwired so far this year (albeit many have nothing to do with tech). A sampling of companies employing the J-word on Business Wire include Infer, Red Hat ("Featuring Red Hat experts, strategic partners, and industry analysts, 'Building data-driven solutions for the Internet of Things' will highlight infrastructure optimization for IoT and how best to start – or continue – an IoT journey."), Juniper ("HacKid Booth: Kids are our future, why not give them a spark that will set them on a journey that only 'hacking' can inspire?") and Talend ("Talend, the global big data integration software leader, today announced an update to its BigData Sandbox, a pre-configured virtual environment that provides companies a no-risk, zero-cost way to begin their big data journey.). [Italics on journey are from me.]

The word journey is especially popular among companies that sell cloud services that enable customers to move from on-premises tools to those in the ether (i.e., "RightScale cloud experts who have advised more than a thousand enterprises in their journey to cloud.").

Or how about this shining example?

SugarCRM SugarCRM

Leading network vendors like Cisco also specialize in journeys. At the SXSW event in Austin in March, Cisco issued an invite to "Join us on a journey to bring an amazing Internet of Everything innovation to life."  In blogging about the Connected Car, Cisco also cites the journey, but that at least seems like a valid use.  Then there's the text on one Cisco YouTube video about "ideation" that really goes overboard: "Before you start your Journey, you'll need to think about what you want to innovate, the challenge you'd like to tackle, the team you'd like to go on the Journey with, how much time you'll plan to set aside for the Journey."

As for those of you traveling to Interop next week, have a good... trip.

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