'Pivot', 'tiger teams' and other top business words this year

Using jargon
By Eleanor O'Neill, CA Today

26 January 2017

'Pivot' is set to become a staple piece of terminology for boardrooms in 2017, according to research by language consultants The Writer.

Helped along by its frequent use during the US presidential election, the word has become a popular term for companies employing responsive actions to an increasingly volatile business landscape.

The Writer analysed speeches, websites, business publications and other corporate literature along with their own commissioned professional content to reveal the most prominent up-and-coming word trend.

"When people use 'pivot' in a business context, they rarely mean anything more than 'change direction'", said Neil Taylor, Creative Partner at The Writer.

"But because 'pivot' comes from the world of physics, it sounds specific and thought-through, rather than random and panicky. And businesses love borrowing words with that kind of technical feel."

Blackberry used it when announcing a major business development last September, describing the decision to stop manufacturing smartphone devices as a 'software pivot'.

The runners-up

They may have failed to take the top spot but you can still expect to hear the following terms being tossed around the office more frequently:

  • Tiger teams: A dynamic term for a group of experts who work on problem resolution.

Neil said: "Obviously if you’re one of the 'tigers' it makes you sound  cool and go-getting right now, but the danger is that these words get bleached of their meaning if you hear them too much."

  • Swim lanes: Refers to keeping areas of responsibility clearly defined at work.

Neil said: "It’s a relatively friendly metaphor that helps you talk about something which is really annoying in increasingly complex workplaces: people wading into projects that have nothing to do with them."

Technical terminology seems to be a bit of a theme in business language right now, as demonstrated by Goldman Sachs' series of short videos explaining economic buzzwords.

The latest instalment features 'conversational commerce', a facet of automated customer service. Other recent updates tackle terms like 'data lake', a storage concept for large volumes of discarded data; 'synthetic biology', meaing highly-targeted genetic engineering; and 'mobots', simply a term for mobile robots.

Meanwhile, a report from LinkedIn identified the words most over-used by professionals on their site in 2016. 'Specialised' topped the list as a new entry this year, overtaking 'leadership' and 'passionate'.

1 Specialised
2 Leadership
3 Passionate
4 Strategic
5 Experienced
6 Focused
7 Expert
8 Certified
9 Creative
10 Excellent

What business jargon are you tired of hearing? Tell us in the comments below.


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