IT's Relevance Can Get Lost in Translation

Ann All

One of the funniest movies of all time is "Airplane!" and one of its funniest scenes is when Barbara Billingsley (who played the quintessential suburban mom on "Leave It to Beaver") has to help a stewardess communicate with a couple of dudes who only speak "jive." Billingsley appears on the cast list as "Jive Lady."


Not so funny is how essentially the same scene can be recreated at virtually any company with an IT department. Instead of the Beav's mom telling off a "jive ass dude," imagine a CIO talking about "virtualizing" this and "scaling" that. Now imagine the reaction of the business folks sitting in on a meeting with him or her.


With the CIO role clearly in flux, it's important for tech execs to be able to communicate with the business in terms it can understand. Yet too often, that just isn't happening.


One suggestion contained in IT governance expert Alan Calder's list of 10 tips on implementing IT governance is to "ban jargon from technology discussions." That's good advice.


Not just tech execs but tech vendors (and OK, tech journalists) should probably heed Calder's advice as well. I laughed -- but could just as easily have cried -- while reading a funny post by Wall Street Journal blogger Ben Worthen about a new "integrated solution" from Oracle that:

enables communications service providers to manage growing IP service complexity, scale operations efficiently and facilitate ongoing network change.

Too bad, as Worthen points out, that it's tough to figure out just what Oracle is selling. It doesn't exactly clarify matters when Oracle throws in a quote from a Norwegian CIO in its press release. He says the product "will help us to rapidly deploy high-demand IP services, such as level 3 virtual private networks, multicast and quality of service over our IP/MPLS network."

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