Why IT jargon is bad for business and why we just don’t do tech speak

20th June 2018

IT JargonAs someone who remembers when going viral wasn’t necessarily a good thing, accumulating ‘followers’ was for cult leaders and only birds tweeted, it’s safe to say I’m baffled by the obsession of our industry with jargon.

Whether it’s creating a ‘micro-moment’ or ‘sharing my ask’, tech jargon is never difficult to spot, even if interpreting it can be. At best it’s a useful way for us IT professionals to communicate with each other and describe concepts we’re all familiar with. At worst it’s irritating, ridiculous and – in our opinion – very bad for business.

It’s not just us. A recent study published in The Guardian claims excessive jargon in the office makes workers ‘feel unhappy and stressed’.

While research by the American National Association of Colleges and Employers, found employers now struggle to recruit candidates who can clearly explain their products and services. They might have known their stuff, but describing it to the rest of the world was beyond many.

There are better ways to communicate

Hands up, we’re guilty of using jargon ourselves – when we discus projects with each other in the office.

But that doesn’t mean it’s the best way for us – or anyone else in the tech sector – to communicate with the outside world. Especially when we’re trying to explain ideas our audience may not be as familiar with as we are.

How on earth can normal folk be expected to know what ‘dogfooding’ means, or how we plan to ‘sunset’ a project – unless, like us, they subscribe to the TechCrunch blog.

Why we avoid speaking in tech jargon

tech talk

Our theory is pretty simple. If the people we speak with cannot understand exactly what we’re talking about, why would they want to do business with us?

If you want to touch base to feel out the bandwidth of our ninja devs, move your project on to the next level, or call in one of our SWAT teams (to augment your own existing bench), shifting the needle toward the next gen of your bleeding-edge app, we can definitely help you.

But you won’t need to know the lingo to work with us and achieve incredible results. We’re fully bilingual. So if you prefer to speak plain English we’ll be more than happy to oblige.

Are you guilty of using tech jargon?

Descriptive, ridiculous or just plain baffling. Most of us are guilty of inserting the occasional David Brent style buzzword into our conversation, especially when talking to friends or colleagues about subjects we know well.

But after reading a recent BBC poll, ranking the worst cases of tech jargon – as voted for by viewers – we got to thinking about some of the most amusing, way out there terms we’ve heard recently and exactly what the people using them really wanted to say.

15 ridiculous examples of IT and tech jargon that made us LOL

Want to dazzle your colleagues, dumbfound your boss or give clients that vacant look? Take your pick from the following list and use with caution…

Peel the onion: A methodological, layer by layer approach to analysing a problem, (which may leave you in tears).

Drink the Kool Aid: Rather tasteless reference to an unfortunate incident where cult leader Jim Jones murdered 900 of his ‘followers’, after convincing them to drink Kool Aid laced with cyanide. In tech circles this refers to accepting change without knowing exactly what it implies.

C-Level: Top of the tree. CEOs. COOs, CTOs and anyone with a C at the beginning of their job title. As in, I like the idea, but have to take it to C-Level. I.e. management.

Ninja / Guru / Rockstar: Three terms with a similar meaning, which describe developers with knowledge of multiple programming languages. Frequently used by recruiters.

Squad: An ambitious description of the 2 freelancers, usually separated by several time zones, who are building your new website.

Eyeballs: A leftover relic of the dotcom era. Rather than talking about people, users or buyers, tech types prefer to judge success in terms of eyeballs. Making a high eyeball count the perfect indicator of success among start-ups that may never actually make a profit.

Brogrammers: (Masculine) Occasionally self used by male programmers, who see themselves as sociable and outgoing. To the rest of us it simply refers to that group of young men you call on when your computer breaks down.

Bleeding edge: So new it’s scary and may not even work properly.

Ideation: The creation of ideas. Formerly known as a meeting.

Operationalise: Or as we used to say; Do. Important updates to software and systems are frequently operationalised.

EOD: At the end of the day. For heaven’s sake, what’s wrong with just saying it?

Heads up: Part notice, part last minute warning. Literal translation: I know it’s a bit late, but this is hurtling in your direction. Do something now or get out of the way.

Key learnings: Or as they used to be called lessons. When you can’t be bothered concluding that report, just jot down your key learnings.

Low-hanging fruit: Shamelessly nabbed from their colleagues in marketing, techies now use the term to identify quick and cheap solutions for their buggy software.

Dogfooding: Best for last and all that. Eating your own dog food refers to a product being so good its creators use it inhouse. Frequently followed by key learnings as to why nobody’s buying said product.

Fancy an old fashioned chat? In English?

In our industry new jargon pops up daily. But we know that using it can easily alienate the very people we’re trying to help and prevent them understanding the true value of our work.

tech jargon

Our simple rule is avoid buzzwords and use plain, to the point language when talking with clients. So while listening in to one of our early morning developer stand-ups may leave you puzzled, you’ll never have a problem getting straight answers from our project managers.

For a frank and honest chat about your next project, using language that’s easy to understand, give us a call and ask for Matt, Rachel or Richard.