Rape of technology names

Within the last years, I found a massive abuse of technology names. For instance everybody speaks about “saving data in the cloud”, when they actually mean, to save something in the internet, such as DropBox.
I can already hear some voices saying “but DropBox actually is a cloud!”. But how is this important to the enduser? Is the enduser really intersted in how DropBox handles the load balancing, the relyability, the process dedication or other advantages that can be provided through cloud technology? As a lot of DropBox user don’t understand these terms (and maybe you don’t), the answer is clearly NO!

Another example for the same behavior is the name “Internet of Things (IoT)”, which is often used to indicate, that there are some devices connected with each other. But, if this was the meaning of IoT, an MP3 song file sended through Bluetooth would already be part of IoT.
Ok the critical voices again: “But your example might be part of the IoT”.
Of course it might. But it is not what you want to express, when you use IoT as a name of a technology or concept.

Ok now you could say “why is this a problem, when laymen use technology names in a wrong context”.
I can tell you: Because normally my clients are no IT experts and have none or only basic knowledge about different technologies. So they are infected with the same virus and when they ask me “can you do cloud computing”, I need to take a long turn to clarify what they actually want me to do.

Of course I could “solve the problem”, as I can observe many of my competitors, by just answer with “that’s no problem”.
But that does not solve anything. The customers have a need or vision of something, they might actually not express, as they have no knowledge about the right terms. But I want to deliver a solution, not just take money for building whatever the customer doesn’t need. So I really have to force this clarfication.

Analysis

I have no idea where the origin of the misuse of these terms or technology names is. And even if I knew, I had no chance to change it. But what I learned is, that everybody has its own concept of what it means.

On the other hand, it might mean a competitive disadvantage, when I don’t simply confirm that I am able to implement, what every they understand under these expressions.
This might start, when they tell me “you call your self an expert and have no idea of what ‘cloud’ means”.

The reason why some simply confirm, might be that they think, the customer is a little bit stupid and so stupid questions deserve stupid answers. But behind every question (whether or not they sound sensless), there is a thought and maybe even a need or concept.

Sometimes the difference of what you and your customer talk about is too small, to identify any gap. But as you start to clarify, you will also use this method, even if you think, everything is already clear.

Solution

Before you start to work or answer a request, you should figure out, what the customer want you to do. Even when they just repeat something they just heard, I’m sure they have a concrete idea, why an according technology could solve their problems.

What you need to do is not just clarifying the understanding of the according name, but to dig deeper to the requirement.
Instead of asking “when you say ‘Big data’, do you mean that there will be a massive amount of records stored in your database”, you should better figure out, what he is afraid of. It might be the fear, that the performance will not be sufficient, when processing a plenty of data, while a lot of user are accessing it at the same time. Otherwise you will end up speaking about backup strategies, while he is thinking of increasing server performance.

Be sure you will have exessive acceptance levels, when you are able to address the real doubts and eleminate the fear by showing that you already considered it. (There is already a similar post)

Summary

Whenever you hear names of a technology in a weird context, you should try to dig to the need behind it, instead of beeing a “know-it-all”.  This increases the level of acceptance and demonstrates more expert skills.

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