UK small and medium-sized businesses are losing competitive advantage afforded by new technologies because they don’t understand the ‘language of the techy’ according to new research from communications company ATC.
The survey found that 42 per cent of business owners and managers thought the IT sector the most guilty for using jargon, significantly beating sales people (20%) and lawyers (16%). It also revealed that over four in ten professionals (41%) switch off and don’t listen when confronted by jargon-users, and that nearly one in three (31%) pretend to understand what is being said to them when jargon is used or feel embarrassed they don’t know what is being talked about.
Campbell Williams, ATC’s Strategy Director, said: “The survey shows what we have suspected for some time; that the IT sector speaks an entirely different language to the business person. The big problem with such miscommunication is that businesses become blinded by science and are unable to understand how they could save money and improve customer service through using new technologies like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).”
To find out the depth of misunderstanding, the survey asked interviewees what “asking your SI to handle you VoIP” meant. Just 21 per cent of respondents correctly identified “asking your systems integrator to facilitate a Voice over Internet Protocol system”, with over half (54%) replying that they didn’t know and one in ten (10%) believing it meant “asking a safety inspector to conduct a Visual Office Inspection Procedure.”
The ATC research suggests those providing technology solutions must go ‘back to basics’ and assess how they speak to prospective customers by dropping the jargon and starting to communicate in terms of simple, understandable and practical business benefits. And, while many larger companies employ technical experts to understand and implement technology, many smaller companies do not have such resources and, unless steps are taken by the IT industry, the ‘digital divide’ between large and small companies will continue to grow.
Williams concluded: “We like to think ATC is leading by example, by showing that sophisticated technology, with all of its advantages, needn’t only be the domain of big business. Successful business people tend to be straight talkers and we believe the tech industry owes it to them to do the same, which is why we are campaigning for the industry to drop the jargon and start talking the language of business.”
Following the survey, ATC plans to launch a campaign to champion the use of ‘plain English’ in the technology sector in the coming months.