Why words are killing the adoption of innovation !

Ruby on Rails is not a story about Ruby and her travels on a train.  A Desktop is actually not the top of your desk.  No, a Cookie is not something you would want to eat.  A Flash memory is not what you have when you have had a little too much to drink.   A Cloud  is not a something you will see in the sky, but likely in the basement of a building.  Enterprise 2.0 should not be confused with  Web 2.0, especially since we seem to be already experiencing Web 3.0. 

Actually, I would also like to take this opportunity to be the first person to declare the emergence of Enterprise 5.0  (a new mode of inter-enterprise communication where machines will talk to other machines using twitter and other social media tools – the age of social media for machines – this is Enterprise 5.0 (I did not want to loose out by not contributing to the terminology bandwagon).

There is no doubt that the pace of innovation in the technology industry has been staggering.  For this I congratulate all my friends in the technology industry across the world – you have made the world a better place to live.

However, what I have found amazing is that the adoption of some of these technologies and innovations is sometimes far less than than we had all hoped.  Now there can be many reasons for this – the technology just does not work, it does not met the needs of the customer or even that there is competing or new technology that provides a better solution.  All acceptable reasons.

But when you are not able to sell your software solution, or your brand new hardware gizmo,  it is to often because the customer simply does does not understand what you are talking about and is confused by the words and terminology being used.  The sad truth is that this happens far more than we would like to admit.

Our recent fascination with cloud computing is a perfect example.  I have seen companies change overnight (using a innovative technology called SAR – aka Search And Replace in MS Word) from being an OnDemand company to a SAAS company.  With the SAR technology, the move from SAAS to Cloud is equally possible in a short period of time.  In a way Cloud computing has been around with us a while – it is called the Internet – but that is the topic of a whole different discussion. Yes there are very important and signficant changes takeing place in how we develop and deliver software, but why not describe it in words that the widest group of people can understand.

I have had the privilege of talking to large cross section of  technology companies, service companies and enterprises and in my experience few are able to articulate the differences between a piece of software that is hosted, OnDemand,  in the Cloud or provided as a Software as a Service (SAAS).  Now the sad part is that if you really look into it the SAAS/OnDemand delivery model does have important innovations that will make the delivery of software cheaper and more effective.  But why do we have to make this such a difficult journey for our customers.

So to my colleagues in the technology industry, I would submit to you that words matter.  Clarity and simplicity of communication matters.  If we make it easier for our customers to understand what we are talking about, they will buy more of it and they will benefit from our innovations. 

I would like to close with quoting someone who knew a little bit about innovation and creating complex things.

 “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”  – Leonardo da Vinci


 Thanks for reading,


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7 Responses

  1. Totally agree, Zia! I think the term “cloud” has been becoming increasingly more like “fog”, for example…

    And BTW, your Enterprise 5.0 scenario isn’t that far fetched – it’s one of the things we’re building right now!

    • Rick – thanks for your comment. Glad to hear you are working on such a scenario. The world of sensor, machines and software will come together more and more.

      Good luck.


  2. Actually Zia I used the term 5.0 for the enterprise in private discussions earlier this year with several of the CIOs in the U.S. Gov, including DoD & WH, but it wasn’t public so feel free to claim the prize. I don’t like using versions as it is a holdover from the old desktop upgrade model in packaged software — doesn’t at all seem to match the continual improvement made possible by networking. .02- MM

  3. Mark, thanks for your comment. My reason for using the phrase Enterprise 5.0 was more to support my point that such terms make it difficult for the consumers of technology to actually understand what all these terms mean.

    I agree with you versions dont make sense as many would find it difficult to see the difference between the versions.


  4. Completely agree with you, Zia, and that Italian guy.
    And you can add an Austrian fellow to that as well, who said something like: The borders of my language are the borders of my world (Ludwig Wittgenstein: Die Grenzen meiner Sprache sind die Grenzen meiner Welt).
    So that would give us customers who, if they do not understand you in the beginning, can not understand your world and therefore probably will not follow you into your world, no matter how wonderful and cool it might be.
    But the problem is, it´s much easier to create another three letter acronym than to come up with an easy to understand explanation for sometimes complex things … but if you want to include people, and not exclude them, you have to try to explain it in words they will understand easily … so like you say, with clarity and simplicity. Couldn´t agree more;)

    • Bernd, thanks for the note. I like the line “The borders of my language are the borders of my world”.

      I hope all the software company marketing departments of the world pay attention to this issue, they will sell more software.


  5. […] Using IT Lingo:  I have written about this in a previous blog posting “Why Words are Killing the Adoption of Innovation” Somehow we think that the more complicated the words the more insightful and important the […]

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