Article Spotlight: Business Has a New Favorite Buzzword

Remember before the pandemic when we had deadlines, office lunches, and water cooler gossip? But now, as in-office culture restarts, stops, circles back, and starts again, business buzzwords have changed to match the times. So fittingly, or perhaps maddeningly, a new word has emerged that describes business performance in these unprecedented times. With ever-moving goalposts, business performance is now a “journey,” and what a long, strange trip it has been. Matthew Boyle from Bloomberg describes the buzzword in the article link here.

What’s in a Name?

From the article, “You’re always looking for new ways to say the same things,” says Grant Barrett, a linguist and co-host of the public radio show “A Way with Words.” “I like ‘journey’ for this purpose. It’s less clinical and corporate than saying something like, ‘during the last eight quarters,’ and it’s more affirming than talking about a period of transition or uncertainty.” Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it.

Epic Journeys

Who’s taking a trip? Boyle continues, “Types of corporate journeys vary widely. Typically they’re strategic, like the path CVS Health Corp. is on to evolve its business model by closing hundreds of brick-and-mortar pharmacies and amping up digital health-care services. General Motors Co., meanwhile, is on a journey “from automaker to platform innovator,” its finance chief said earlier this month. A big merger prompts an “integration journey” of the type that wireless provider T-Mobile US Inc. is now undertaking to digest longtime rival Sprint Corp…Diversity and inclusion efforts don’t happen overnight, so naturally they’re a journey, as is sustainability, or the more mundane, never-ending process of cost-cutting. Spam maker Hormel Foods Corp. has even gone on a “pricing journey” that is likely to lead to higher bills for grocery shoppers. Customers are often unwitting passengers on these corporate journeys, in fact — Salesforce.com Inc. wants to take clients on a “connected journey of commerce,” presumably involving a trip through some virtual clouds.”

Are We There Yet?

Parents have long understood that “two hours” is how long it takes to get anywhere, but that’s not sufficient for everyone. Boyle concludes, “Whatever the journey entails, the end date is rarely, if ever, defined. “The word has the advantage of being opaque,” says Mark Stoeckle, chief executive officer of Adams Funds, which manages $3 billion. “This allows companies to gain flexibility.” And that’s the point. Analysts who press executives for clarity on when journeys might lead to fatter profit margins or better shareholder returns are often scolded to remember that journeys take time, and it’s still early…”When managers are on a journey,” said Brandon Fletcher, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein, “shareholders are getting taken for a ride.”

How the pandemic and other market forces will alter business culture remains to be seen. Some changes will be temporary but others permanent. In uncertain times like these, you need expertise you can trust from Business Centric Technologies.

 

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