Call to Outlaw Technical Jargon as Small Business Suffer

  • Federation of Small Businesses encourages commitment to plain-speaking
  • Majority believe use of jargon in IT & Telecommunications is increasing
  • Half owner-managers have been sold products they didn’t fully understand

Damning new findings released today from Opal, the b2b division of TalkTalk Group, have revealed the use of jargon in the IT & Telecommunications sector is not only confusing for small business owners but could result in potentially catastrophic business decisions and inappropriate technical solutions. Opal is now calling for greater clarity in the industry.

Wanted: Dead or Alive - Technical JargonThe study, questioned 500 SME owner-managers into their attitudes towards dealing with third party suppliers. It revealed that IT & Telecommunications was the sector most likely to use confusing IT jargon (40%) coming above finance (24%), sales & marketing (22%) and even HR/legal (10%). This seems to be a growing problem, as 71% claim that the use of jargon in IT & Telecommunications has increased in the last five years.

But more than just being an annoyance, the study reveals the very real issues faced by owner-managers when dealing with an industry awash with niche terminology.

More than half (55%) admitted confusing technical terms caused them to ‘occasionally’ make decisions about Telecommunications that they didn’t fully understand, while 13% said this happened ‘regularly’.

Even worse is that, 41% of business owners admitted to being sold a technical solution they didn’t want – or even need – because of over-use of confusing jargon, while 13% said this happened frequently.

And in what could be a wake up call to IT & Telecommunicatrions vendors, the vast majority (78%) of owner managers said they’re often put off scoping out new projects or even speaking to suppliers because they feared overuse of confusing jargon during the sell. Furthermore, a fifth of owner-managers believe that IT and Telecommunications suppliers using jargon fosters distrust and 18% said it shows a lack of understanding of their business needs.

The survey forms part of Opal’s drive to provide business results-focused straight forward advice for small businesses, and it is now calling for other IT and Telecommunications vendors to join them in helping bridge the knowledge gap between their customers and offer transparent, straight forward sales advice.

When asked what the solution was, 45% of owner-managers said there was a need for more straight forward advice in the industry and 27% said the industry’s governing bodies should play a greater regulatory role. Just 8% said that there is no problem.

Chris Collinson, Director of Small Business at Opal, said:

“What’s clear from the survey is that and the way certain technologies are being sold or explained by vendors is not making it easy for a busy small business manager to make clear decisions. The end result is that businesses could be missing out on powerful technologies, taking solutions that just aren’t required, or even avoiding IT & telcos operators completely.”

“The onus needs to be on the industry to ensure that unnecessary technical jargon does not get in the way of communicating real business benefits of important new products, and clearly, for many businesses, these benefits are simply not being adequately explained. At Opal we have taken steps to explain technology in a clear, straight forward manner, and a good starting point is our website. We also only provide solutions after rigorous research with target groups. And importantly, we complete pre implementation verification calls to with our customers to double check they have the right solution for their needs.”

Clive Davenport, Trade and Industry Committee Chair at the Federation of Small Businesses, added:

“Small business owners have a great deal to think about, from HR to marketing, IT to finance, and that’s not even including the process of actually running their business. We support Opal’s drive to stamp out unnecessary, complicated and technical language, a move which will ultimately help small businesses concentrate on what’s important; growing their business.”

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