Time for the channel to keep the language simple

The channel might like to use its own terms to describe technology and processes but Billy MacInnes suggests that plain English might be a better idea

So how are your language skills? No, I’m not taking about C++, Java, C#, Ruby, Python or SQL. And I’m not talking about being able to speak in acronyms, buzzwords, jargon or technologese either. I’m talking about English. The language of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, TS Eliot, DH Lawrence, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and George Eliot. Oh, and your customer.

The bad news for anyone proficient in the prodigious and glib use of IT industry acronyms, buzzwords and acronyms is that fewer and fewer of your customers are likely to understand what you’re talking about, or care. According to research from public relations agency Text 100, approval for an IT purchase can involve up to nine people at the customer organisation and many of those will not come from a technology background.

Admittedly, if they’re from marketing or sales, they’ll should still be highly proficient in jargon, but it’s likely to be a different dialect and in the absence of any universally accepted translation software, it might make more sense to try and talk to these people in a language that (theoretically) they understand and you can speak: English.

This may well prove a traumatic experience for some people who have managed to avoid using English for most of their working career but I suspect that if they take their time and are treated with care and consideration, they could be assimilated back into the wider English speaking world fairly quickly.

Text 100 might want to go on a refresher course too judging by the company’s willingness to produce a sentence that begins with the words “Decision makers reach out to a range of online and offline channels”. You can reach out to someone and they might be there (as The Four Tops promised they would) or you can “reach out and touch somebody’s hand” and “make this world a better place if you can” (thanks for that, Diana Ross) but you can’t really reach out to channels, online or offline.

Anyway, Text 100 makes a good point in advising resellers to become actively involved with online channels, such as forums and social networks, because customers are “increasingly turning to these channels when making their purchase decision”. It claims more and more customers are starting to use “the online dimension” as part of their research process, in addition to word-of-mouth (not in jargon) and peer-to-peer recommendations.

It’s probably worth pointing out that such online channels should be presented in clear and concise language rather than splattered and disfigured with incomprehensible, bewildering jargon, buzzwords and technologese. It may well be that forcing companies to present themselves online in ways that eschew the lazy option of regurgitating unappetising chunks of technologese could help them reconsider how they talk to people about themselves in the real world (and no, that’s not “the offline world”, as Text 100 would have it). Wouldn’t that be something?

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Agreed. Technology has its own language and the channel has plenty of buzzwords of its own to compound things. With (non - technical) Line of Business decision makers becoming ever more important speaking in plain English is appropriate. In my expereince it is also appreciated and respected by clients who are frustrated by business buzzwords. Sean Huggett | http://www.voyager.net.uk | https://twitter.com/voyagernetworks | http://www.youtube.com/user/VoyagerNetworks