You've probably read about companies democratizing AI, democratizing finance, democratizing IoT, or even more broadly democratizing technology. Seriously, just go on Google News and type in "democratizing."
It's a powerful word, democracy, stemming from an amalgamation of the Greek word dēmos, meaning the people, and the suffix kratia, meaning power. Turning this into an action means bringing the power to the people, and what better way to do so in the 21st century than through technology?
A buzzword is simply a term that is particularly fashionable at a particular time. "Democratizing" perfectly fits the definition, especially considering that most people can't really explain what they mean by it, without appending other buzzwords like AI or blockchain.
Nonetheless, if, by democratization, companies mean creating more accessible, more open, and more inclusive products, then it is by all means a noble and valiant effort.
But more often than not, creating a more inclusive product means things like reducing price barriers, building in accessibility for various disabilities, and ultimately empathizing with a diverse user base. This is considered a lot less exciting than "democratization through decentralization," which all too often means putting the blockchain where it doesn't belong.
Functionally implementing blockchain, which is objectively far less efficient than any traditional database structures, to increase accessibility really doesn't make sense. There are many good uses for blockchain, such as to eliminate single points of failure and reduce fraud, but it's often a strange means to an end if you're talking about bringing access to users.
Inclusion Means A More Inclusive User Experience
If democratization of products seeks greater inclusion, then these products should offer a flexible, intuitive user experience. How many IoT or blockchain products can you say offer a truly great user experience? Sure, there are some, but it's not the norm.
What's The Incentive?
You might be wondering, why are all these companies deploying the "democratization" buzzword - what's in it for them? You might say, "follow the money," and that companies in the space are raising more, and more often.
That's probably true, but it's also true that buzzwords are not a revenue model, and sooner or later, every 5G, IoT, Drone, AI, and "democratization of" company out there has to make money, or they'll bust.
Essentially, these buzzwords might help procure short-term investments, but they don't help generate long-term cash flow. And even if you're a social enterprise, returns should be your #1 metric, otherwise you won't be helping others for long.
In the end, these buzzwords are harmless, but they don't do much good for companies using them.