Get rid of IT jargon to drive business transformation
AI; IOT; cloud – public, private and hybrid; edge; big data; machine learning; 4IR: 5G; algorithms; clickbait; smart (smart anything, smart everything); BYOD; EUD; SaaS, IaaS, CaaS and PaaS; ERP; CRM; BPM; phishing, smishing, vishing; malware, ransomware; data-driven, actionable analytics; front-end, back-end; uptime, downtime; augmented reality; virtual reality, virtual machines, VPNs; robotics; Industry 4.0, Industry 5.0… digital transformation.
The IT world is filled with jargon and buzzwords, all awash in an alphabet soup of abbreviations and acronyms.
“It’s time to get rid of the jargon – at least when speaking to non-IT people,” says Vibhu Kapoor, Regional Vice-President, Epicor Software, Middle East, Africa and India. “Buzzwords are fine when appropriate; using them all the time can be a form of laziness. Because they are not readily understood, they often present an impenetrable barrier that prevents non-techie individuals from fully understanding the benefits of what the industry has to offer.”
Kapoor points out that given the pace of technological innovation, new words are being added to the growing list of tech jargon all the time – so much so that it’s sometimes difficult even for those within the industry to keep up, let alone those outside the industry for whom IT advances are expected to benefit.
Another problem is that many buzzwords, particularly those that are not directly linked to a specific technology such as VPN or 5G, often come to mean different things to different people. An example of one that has become so widely used and abused as to have lost coherent meaning is “digital transformation”. To some it refers purely to the technology that enables widespread automation of processes; to others it is all about moving to the cloud; while for others, the focus is on cultural change and driving business value.
“Because of the term – digital transformation – the focus is being directed at the technology rather than what the technology can do for business, and what the business is trying to achieve. Perhaps it would be less confusing if the term was changed to emphasise what it really is all about – business transformation and adaptation,” Kapoor says.
Also problematic are concepts such as Industry 4.0, which in a manufacturing environment could be interpreted to mean having a manufacturing sector governed by data. However, in other environments, Industry 4.0 is regarded as being synonymous with 4IR or “smart” environments in which everything communicates and is connected to everything else.
“If we want to make it easier for businesses and other economic sectors to truly benefit from technology, those of us who work in the IT industry – the technology specialists and providers – have to make it easier for our potential customers to understand exactly how the technology can make their lives easier, add value to their business and deliver bottom-line benefits. This means we have to learn to discuss the application of transformative technology in terms that users can understand,” Kapoor adds.
He acknowledges that Epicor is as much to blame for the lazy use of jargon as most others in the industry.
“It was during our recent rebranding effort that Epicor came to realise that while we were adept at explaining what our software could do, we weren’t doing a great job at explaining its benefits to users in language they could understand. And if they could not understand it, how could we, as a supplier, expect them to embrace the change a digital landscape shift would entail?”
According to Kapoor, delivering the benefits of technology to business requires suppliers to frame the benefits in terms of their potential for business transformation and communicate this in a common language.
He believes that technologies such as the cloud, internet of things and automation, among others, could play an important role in helping organisations survive and even thrive in today’s uncertain world. However, this would require the removal of barriers to access those technologies, including language barriers.
“You don’t need to know the jargon of the energy industry to benefit from electricity; nor should you need to know the jargon of IT or how it works to benefit from it. The IT industry as a whole needs to make a commitment to removing jargon from our client-facing lexicon. This may be easier said than done, but if we work hard at building a common language that we can all understand, we will be able to benefit from transformation sooner rather than later,” Kapoor concludes.