We’ve all fallen victim to technical jargon at some point, whether at the giving or receiving end. Work in an industry long enough, and the jargon will become a natural part of your vocabulary without you even realising. Enter fresh faced into a new sector, and you’ll wonder what an earth everyone is talking about.
Issues with jargon go beyond the workplace as well. Customers are often subjected to technical jargon, causing confusion and frustration. Earlier this year, national UK train operators were strongly advised that they need to reduce industry jargon on their ticket machines, to ensure their customers knew what they were purchasing. And when jargon gets this much bad press, it’s time to step back and see if your company is guilty of using too much specialist terminology.
What is Technical Jargon in the Digital Workplace?
Whatever the business sector, there will always be a set of words which are unique to that environment, but this is no more apparent than in the tech and digital industry. Overflowing with jargon which reduces whole concepts into a single word, the language of tech and digital companies can feel completely alien if you are unfamiliar with it. This can lead to misunderstandings, issues with communication, and even a sense of isolation if you feel like you have no idea what anyone is talking about.
Technical Jargon: is it all bad?
Of course, that’s not to say that using jargon should be avoided completely. Experts in the field will understand what is meant when their colleagues use tech talk.
But – and it’s a big but – that’s because they are speaking the same language. If a senior IT analyst starts throwing words like “server”, “Agile”, and “BPM” around to a new recruit or non-technical staff, then things are going to get off to a confusing start. This can quickly lead to coworkers feeling out of their depth, when really all they needed was to hear things in simple language.
Technical jargon can be fine, but it’s vital to know your audience, and understand if it’s appropriate in a given context.
Know your audience
The best communicators will be adept at adapting how they talk to different people. The same needs to be done when assessing the appropriateness of using tech jargon. Essentially, you need to tailor the language to suit the audience you’re speaking to. Sometimes this can simply involve replacing the jargon with simpler language, or welcoming questions about what a particular technical term means, or even having a technical dictionary on the staff intranet which decodes the most common phrases.
Putting together an online dictionary can be a fantastic resource on the company intranet. Not only does it encourage ongoing collaboration, but the dictionary can also be a dynamic resource which is continuously updated as and when needed, ensuring it’s always relevant.
Various digital workplace tools can be used to host your tech decoding dictionary, such as a knowledge base app, department landing page, or dedicated blog. Whatever app you choose, the content needs to be out there and in an easily accessible place, such as the intranet homepage. To help get you kick-started, here’s a tech to human translation of the most common jargon in the industry!
Agile – Agile is a project management methodology which is incredibly popular in the software development industry, but is gaining traction in other sectors too. It involves working incrementally and regularly reviewing progress at short intervals.
BPM – This stands for “Business Process Management”, and can mean any set of standardised and chronological procedures that are used within a workplace to get things done. For example, requesting a new piece of computer equipment is a business process, starting from the initial request to the equipment being received.
The Cloud – If you store files “in the Cloud”, this means that it’s stored virtually on the internet, rather than physically on a USB stick or your computer.
CMS – A CMS is a “Content Management System”, which is a piece of software allowing users to publish text and media to their intranet or website.
Digital Workplace – The “digital workplace” is the experience of work delivered through the collective use of connected devices, software and interfaces.
DMS – This stands for “Document Management System”, which is a secure place for storing company documents and files. A DMS will usually have in-built version control, which keeps a historical record of previous versions of the same document.
HTML – This is the coding language used to build the layout and structure of websites.
IoT – Short for “internet of things”, this refers to the phenomenon of every day objects being connected to the internet. For example, a household boiler can now be controlled from afar by a mobile app.
LMS – An LMS is a “Learning Management System”, and allows staff or students to take training courses online.
SaaS – Short for “Software as a Service”, this is a growing business solution which allows companies to use software online rather than having it installed on their infrastructure.
Web server – A web server is a computer system which hosts and stores a website and its files.