The 2023 enterprise software un-predictions

Jon Reed & Brian Sommer Profile picture for user jonandbrian December 6, 2022
It's a tradition nobody asked for. Once again, Jon and Brian put on their hyper-sensors, dust off their 5G-enabled crystal balls, and give you the only future-proof predictions in the enterprise.

keynote marching band with ridiculous lights
(Photo courtesy of Techventive, Inc.)


Five years and counting – that’s how long we’ve been cranking out this uncensored compendium of technical prognostications and unmitigated snark for you, hype-weary readers! Our only regret? We just wish 100% of these were going to come true.

Stop the presses - this one did come true! Last year, we predicted: “Marching bands will reappear at user conferences. As before, we have no idea why this happens or its purpose!” 

As you can tell from Brian's live-action keynote photo, be careful what you un-predict! Our helpful tip for 2023: bring earplugs for the morning keynotes, and don’t put in fresh hearing aid batteries. Just like last year, we still don’t know why these things happen!

This year’s crop of un-predictions required some special post-pandemic soul-searching to find those predictions other market watchers overlooked. So, sit back and read along as we reveal what we found when we turned over rocks, and put on our Quest 2 headsets.

Un-Predictions for 2023

  1. A major old school ERP vendor hires hamburger spokesman Ronald McDonald to keynote its user conference. Ronald is hired to tell customers to quit clowning around re: digital transformation.
  2. Customer success officially becomes an oxymoron – Merriam Webster adds “customer success” to its online dictionary. You’ll find it under the examples of famous oxymorons.
  3. A manufacturing software vendor decides that if digital twins are a good thing, then digital triplets must be a lot better.  Their next big idea: in-vitro applications!
  4. Apologetic AI hits the mainstream. First, vendors had artificial intelligence (AI) apps, and no one understood what went on in those black boxes. Explainable AI fell short. Now, we’ll have apologetic AI that tells you “I’m sorry” - for all of that pesky bias that creeps into those ‘smart’ recommendations.  The best of these will be the Ricky Ricardo AI tool which screams out “Lucy! You got some ‘splaining to do!” Lucy will apologize for being a black box.
  5. Mansplainable AI is also a thing– 2023 will see the debut of a new, hyper-explainable AI tool, Manfred, that condescendingly explains its sketchy AI predictions to non-techie types. Something tells us women will not be impressed with Manfred.
  6. Atomic leadership gets a foothold - This is a style of leadership for vendors who claim everything is converging at the center, where they coincidentally reside. Tread carefully: atomic leadership is fissionable, high energy and only tolerable in micro-doses.
  7. The Internet of clouds gets expert orchestration – No, this is not the Metaverse, but a confederation of hyperscaler technologies that will have releases with names like Nimbus, Cirrus, Cumulus and more.  This prediction makes Brian partly cloudy, with a chance of outbursts.
  8. Attendees are not amused when a software CEO brings an actual AI black box on stage, says, “Your data is in there somewhere,” and tries to ease the tension with “We don’t know what it does either!”
  9. Digital hugs stir controversy– Jon will comfort a PR rep with a digital hug after a tough briefing. He will have to attend virtual hug boundary awareness training.
  10. The great (keynote) resignation is identified – that’s the sound of all the sighing at a vendor keynote, when attendees resign themselves to the banal flash pots, marching bands and stultifying paid sponsor speeches.
  11. The term “Web3” has to be changed to “WebFreeMe” after too many crypto executives are incarcerated to carry on the “movement.” (Accenture considers a trademark infringement action, due to the similarities with their "WebMe" awkwardness).
  12. Legacy ERP customers cause a stir with repeated sightings of the elusive SaaSquatch, only to learn that SaaSquatch is a hoax, and they will be stuck with their old on-premise software until end of maintenance.
  13. A Gartner analyst accidentally places an imaginary vendor in one of its Magic Quadrants. The vendor outperforms its peers in visionary direction, but its ability to execute raises questions.
  14. Tragedy ensues when an enterprise blockchain evangelist disappears in the snowy hills of Kilimanjaro, in brave pursuit of a live enterprise blockchain project.
  15. A SaaS customer pioneers the concept of “quiet (software) quitting” when they don’t renew their software subscription, and don’t even give the vendor a heads up they’re doing this.
  16. A team of software sales executives is offended when a prospect interrupts their pitch on hyper-automation to treat them with Ritalin.
  17. PR firms unintentionally create a new buzzphrase, “quiet answering,” when they put all of their phone numbers in a pitch email, but never answer any of them.
  18. The anticipation of the Metaverse is suddenly obscured by rise of the “Petaverse,” when a frisky collection of pioneering cats, dogs, and other house pets wear their owner’s abandoned goggles - in the hopes of exchanging tokens for treats.
  19. A vendor CEO acquires an emotional support animal for an upcoming analyst briefing. By sheer coincidence, a meeting with Brian is on their schedule.
  20. A container database vendor’s code gets hacked. Their PR team jumps into the post-breach action by trying to ‘contain’ the damage.
  21. (Bonus) - A group of software executives unsuccessfully petition Yes to record "Anti-Fragile" - a sequel to their prog rock classic, "Fragile." Yes offers to perform "Leave It" during an all-hands instead.


Think these unpredictions won't come true? Not so fast. Last year, we predicted: “Because valuations have gotten so frothy lately, investors need a new mythical word to describe something bigger than a unicorn. So, we’ll start to see griffins, centaurs and jackalopes.”

While we were hoping the new name would be Chupacabra, VCs liked capybara decacorn better, despite the capybara's photogenic perfection.  Go figure!

New "must-know" tech buzzwords for 2022

It wouldn't be a new year without some shiny new self-driving buzzwords to impress your synergy-weary friends.

  • BreakingBork – when a key application fails while you’re binge-watching your favorite television series
  • Uberating – How great it feels to jump in an Uber and escape a bad vendor user conference
  • Quantum Leaping – When a marketing team paints their company’s quantum computing abilities in an aspirational light.
  • Decomposable App – This is what a lot of software vendors dream of: apps that break down and disappear after a period of time, thus requiring customers to relicense them all over again
  • Scanaholics – The clinical term for event staff obsessed with scanning attendees’ badges every five feet to track their movements. Not to be confused with “QR-aholism,” a more serious condition where event planners electronically track attendees back to their hotel rooms, wondering why they are at Starbucks instead of taking in the keynote marching band.
  • LinkedOut – When a tech professional gets burned out on the excessive self-promotion and employer ass-kissery that passes for content on LinkedIn. “That’s it – I’m LinkedOut!”
  • Transfornaut – A company that wants to transform but doesn’t really achieve much of anything. Supposedly  they’re digitally transforming, and so far, all they’ve done is clean up their vendor master file.  
  • Subzero Trust – When trust in a company’s ability to protect our data - after multiple breaches - goes below zero.
  • Officianodo – The affectionate term for execs who issue rigid “return to office” mandates, typically from the comforts of their home office.
  • Transfornothing– This is how ERP customers describe a vendor that professes to deliver end-to-end fully transformed business outcomes, but only delivers a technical upgrade or platform change.
  • Faux-code – When low-code projects are exposed for lacking governance and security features.
  • Docker, the containers edition – A brand of gentlemen’s cargo slacks that can hold over 2 dozen electronic devices.
  • "Snowflaked out" - bailing on a cloud data project. "The implementation plan was on lock, but the team Snowflaked out and it was delayed." (via Bonnie Tinder)
  • Degenerative AI - When generative AI delivers obscene, controversial, or politically offensive results (in other words, the default status for 2023).

The 2023 Un-Predictions Generator – Now With Even More Possibilities!

Experience has shown us that PR firms, software marketers and keynote speech writers frequently consult this tool to pick the winning conference themes, memes, hashtags and press release copy. If you like to confuse, obfuscate, or just show off like a real technology leader, then simply pick a word/phrase from each column and you’re on your way!   

The Official Un-Predictions 2023 Jargon Generator
(The Official Un-Predictions 2023 Jargon Generator)

Readers: Don’t forget to post your favorite line or combination and show your colleagues what  a word wizard/marketing maven you are!  Our fav, as always, is that last row!

The ultimate enterprise pickup line will change once again, from “Would you like to experience this employee?!” to "If you’ve got proof of vaccination, I’ve got the time” (Brian), or “Would you like to swap NFTs?” (Jon)  

And, as always, Brian still won't sign-up for Facebook.

If you're looking for more, track Jon and Brian on Twitter - we'll be sharing some near-misses from the cutting room floor. Jon also has a penchant for satire and strikethroughs in his weekly hits/misses roundups

#TYFYL (thank you for your leadership) – we have been atomically efforting to keep #TYFYL fresh and relevant. Remember, #TYFYL is the last remaining glue that holds unglued Twitter together!  Of course, we get help from state-of-the-art thought leaders like Frank Scavo, Meg Bear and Josh Greenbaum. But in 2023, it’s time to upgrade TYFYL to TYFYAL. This successor, thank you for your atomic leadership, will be the new standard for outstanding deeds. Pay it forward folks!!

Image credit - Capybara thumnail via Unsplash. The "Official Un-Predictions Jargon Generator 2023" can only be reprinted with express permission.

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