What's the Word?

FRAMINGHAM (06/26/2000) - Each week the editors at Network World do their best to cut through marketing hype and dish out reality checks. That's one of our primary roles and, done right, results in scoops and editorial awards.

To us, industry buzz is two-faced. As technology professionals, we love the buzz. Buzz is what's hot, what's in the pipeline, the gossip and the cool. We tend to hear the buzz early because companies pound us with news about technology research, new business models and unreleased products. By the time a deployable product or service emerges we've been charting its progress for months, if not years.

The other face of buzz is the nonsense, the poetic license intrinsic to marketing campaigns. It becomes the tail wagging the dog when every company decides that its product must brandish the latest buzz label. For example, ISPs suddenly become Application Service Providers, document management companies become business-to-business portals, and asset management software makers become enterprise resource planning suppliers. This is the buzz that makes us roll our eyes, claim ourselves cynics and write stories that cry out for a return to reality.

Slicing out the hyperbole is so important to us that every year we dedicate a special issue to the task - the Buzz Issue. In the Buzz Issue, we pause from the daily grind to focus on technologies generating buzz. What's hot, and deserves to be, and what seems hot but really is bunk.

As always, we want you to weigh in. Tell us which technologies have made it into your test labs (Wireless Application Protocol, customer relationship management, Layer 4/Layer 7 switches, others?), which are already deployed, which will never make the grade.

We've made it easy for you to talk to us. We've compiled a short survey on Network World Fusion (www.nwfusion.com, DocFinder: 8727) and opened up a forum for the topic. We've kept the survey short so it shouldn't take more than 5 minutes to complete. The results will be published on Sept. 11 in the Buzz Issue.

If you've got another 5 minutes, please join our Buzz forum. Here you can play clairvoyant and predict which emerging technologies will create the next buzz.

Are your vendors whispering words like Bluetooth, end-to-end Internet supply chain or content integration in your ear? Start a thread and give us your take.

What methods do you use to spot a true technology breakthrough from one cooked up in marketing minds? In other words, what's the word on the buzz?

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