Several times a week, I receive a press release about some new Web 2.0 integration-related tool.
Or, at least, I think they're related to integration, because they often mention integration. But often it's wedged in with a lot of other technology buzz words, mashed-up together with a few nickel words. The result, as one of my editors is rumored to have remarked, is "just barely lucid."
Not to pick on anyone, but a recent favorite was a platform -- because everything is a platform these days - that let developers "use a single paradigm" to develop rich Internet applications. I suppose it means the product gives developers a single model for RIA-- and I'm sure it's a great product - but I'm not really sure because I can't tell you what the press release means.
The logic at work behind these tech announcements seems to be, "why say what you can actually do and how you do it when you can obfuscate and seem to promise the moon?"
Of course, this is not a new problem. In fact, it's always a problem with new technology areas, and Web 2.0 -- and Enterprise 2.0, if you must -- is no exception. Gartner should develop some sort of new hype cycle that maps adoption rate to confusing marketing terminology.
Speaking of Gartner, I recently interviewed Ted Friedman, vice president of research for Gartner, about the firm's "cool data integration and management vendor" list for 2008. Despite the publicity about 2.0's integration abilities, it turns out Friedman considered only one -- Nimaya - a true "Enterprise 2.0" solution.
I pointed out that there are a lot of vendors -- particularly in the 2.0 space - offering various types of integration, but it's really hard to tell who's offering you something real and deep and who ... well ... isn't.
He agreed that's a problem with the emerging 2.0 market.
"...Web 2.0 and integration can mean many things; it can mean just delivery of something on a mobile device, or it can mean just presentation of data, or it can mean true integration. And I'm thinking about that idea that I mentioned of physically joining data from different data sources, so I think that's one of the problems with Web 2.0 terminology and so forth, is that it's really all over the map in terms of what it does and what it can mean."
Or, to put it in the less-precise terms of technology marketing, as long as 2.0 vendors -- or, really, any technology vendor - give nebulous descriptions that promise the moon, we're all left wondering whether the marketing lingo is vaporous -- or the product is, in fact, just vaporware.