Why Tech Professionals Need to Use a Common Language and Not Buzzwords by@thecloudarchitect

Why Tech Professionals Need to Use a Common Language and Not Buzzwords

Why is it so important for tech professionals to share a common language? Zelizer says tech companies pay marketing departments millions of dollars to create new, fancy names for their technology. Zelizer is an expert in cloud computing and medicine. He says the tech world needs to prioritize communication that utilizes a common, primary language to avoid confusion and errors can easily occur in the tech space. Zelizer writes that in medicine, doctors and nurses would refer to the drug by its generic name, atorvastatin.
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Michael Gibbs

CEO of Go Cloud Careers. Technology expert with 25 years of experience in networking, cloud computing, and IT security.

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Why is it so important for technology professionals to share a common language? Imagine a world where I'm speaking Greek, someone else is speaking Spanish, someone else is speaking Italian, someone else is speaking Portuguese, and someone else is speaking German, all in the same room with no translators. That scenario quickly becomes fairly complicated unless all of the people speaking are multilingual.

In the technology space, we see this problem every single day. We see tech companies that pay their marketing department millions of dollars to create new, fancy names for their technology. The result is widespread confusion that has the potential to cause problems.

Confusion Surrounding Object Storage

I'll give you an example from the cloud computing space, which is one of my areas of expertise. Object storage is a term we all understand. We understand it in our data centers and we understand it in our clouds. But an organization like Amazon Web Services (AWS) makes up a term called Amazon Simple Storage solution to identify the technology. Then, Microsoft uses the name Microsoft Blob for the same thing, and Google decides to call it Cloud Storage.

It is the same identical technology that has existed for decades under the name: object storage. But by obfuscating the technology with fancy branding terms, you create a situation in which communicating about it is difficult and confusing.

Confusion Surrounding Virtual Machines

The term virtual machine provides another example. It is a term that has been used in the data center for decades to identify technology provided by VMware or Citrix. Now, however, AWS calls the same technology an Elastic Compute Cloud Instance. Google calls it a Computer Engine Instance. Microsoft calls in an Azure Virtual Machine. As a result, the tech space becomes a world where errors can easily occur.

Just like in medicine, and just like in law, we need to use a common language in tech so that we can communicate with precision and avoid dangerous and costly mistakes. In addition, with a common language, we can communicate in a way that allows organizations to leverage multiple internet service providers or multiple cloud providers to obtain the best service with the highest availability and the best performance. If we are not speaking a common language, that communication process breaks down.

As someone who travels the world to communicate with people, I have trained myself to speak multiple languages so that I can communicate wherever I go. However, I still have a dominant language — my primary language. I communicate with the most clarity when I speak with someone who shares my primary language. To achieve the best communication in the tech world, we need to prioritize communication that utilizes a common, primary language.

An Example From The World of Medicine

The medical world, where I worked many years ago, provides another example for the tech world of the importance of a common language. As a nurse practitioner, I realized as I prescribed medication that, just like in the tech world, the pharmaceutical companies would pay their marketing departments millions of dollars to come up with a new, fancy name for their drugs.

There was a fantastic statin drug that was used to lower LDL cholesterol which saved a lot of lives. Pfizer called it Lipitor. That was their cute, branding name for the drug, but when doctors and nurses would refer to the drug, we would call it by its generic name, atorvastatin. That way, we could avoid situations in which Doctor One would not know what Doctor Two or Doctor Three was talking about. To avoid confusion and promote clarity, medical professionals would use the generic term. They would use the common language.

Technology professionals, like medical professionals, provide critical systems and services. If we design a system for a bank and the system goes down, millions — if not billions — of dollars will be lost. If we design systems for a hospital and the system goes down, people can die. The work that we do requires precision, which demands a common language and a common lexicon.

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