Breaking Down IT Services Jargon

It’s typical for those who work in the IT services industry, especially in a tech-savvy town like Austin, to assume that the corporate decision-makers they meet with know exactly what their company’s IT needs are, and also know the techy-jargon to communicate those needs.  It’s also clear, from my experience sitting on a hospital board, that most corporate decision makers will nod their head, as if understanding every word the techy geek is saying–I assume to prevent some sort of embarrassment.  After all, senior managers and boards of directors should know these things, right?  We all have high expectations of our own knowledge, right?

My New Year’s resolution for this blog is to break down the techie language barrier that most tech geeks, (and most tech sales teams), love to propagate.  It is my goal to inform, so that techies and non-techies alike may live in peaceful harmony–or at the very least, understand each other.  It’s no secret that middle and upper management is mostly comprised of business, finance, health, and accounting professionals—CPAs, MBAs, MHAs, MPHs, JDs, MDs, RNs, etc.—and these good people did not go to school to be ‘techy’, to learn how to write code, to learn about software implementation, or to master the art of the ERP rollout (that’s Enterprise Resource Planning System to the non-tech geek).  No, these decision makers went to school to manage, to implement effective and efficient systems, to run successful and profitable companies.

Simplifying IT System Information for Small/Medium Austin Businesses

How frustrating it is to be faced with the reality that the very backbone of their organization is the IT system(s)?  After all, the vast majority of small to mid-sized business people that I work with spend their time making their businesses successful, while relying on their resident or outsourced IT support team to make sense of the ever-expanding world of information technology.

Well, Dear Reader, confusion no more!  This year, I promise to keep it simple and to provide you with some introductory information to have a basis to make some knowledgeable business IT support decisions.  (If you haven’t checked out comedian Don McMillan’s Life After Death by PowerPoint 2010 please do—it sums up nicely every inscrutable IT sales meeting I’ve ever had to attend as a corporate decision-maker.)

In making things easier to understand, let’s be up front about the egregious overuse of acronyms in the IT world these days (for an accurate take on this, reference 5:20 on the Don McMillan video above).  The healthcare IT space is particularly brutal in this regard.  Healthcare IT is filled with (often erroneously used) acronyms.  And I find that in this space, you’ll even have vendors making up acronyms in lieu of actually describing a software, platform or service in detail.

Look, I ask questions when I’m getting acronym after insipid acronym thrown in my face by a person trying to sell me something–and you should too!   (Bonus Points:  when the Acronym User (or ACRU, duh) forgets what his/her own acronym stands for.)  I appreciate the usefulness of the acronym on a user-friendly level; i.e. “Disk Operating System” was hard to say so we changed it to DOS, which is forthright and reasonable.  “Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol” became TCP-IP; rolls off the tongue amongst the techie geek crowd.  These acronyms became words and, I agree, it makes sense… to a point.

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However, when someone says they’ll have to catch up to me later because JCAHO is in the ED to take a look at the EHR because someone reported a HIPAA violation involving PHI—honestly, it’s too much to take (even when I know exactly what they’re talking about).   Translation:  “The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations is in the Emergency Department (Used to be the ER or “Emergency Room”) to take a look at the Electronic Health Record (sometimes referred to as the EMR or “Electronic Medical Record”) because someone reported a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act violation involving Protected Health Information.  Makes perfect sense to you now, no?  You should have known all that already, no?

No!  Starting today, take control of your IT meetings and take pride in asking, “Errr, what does that mean?”  Moving forward through the year, I plan to MEON (Make it Easy On You).  I’ll fully explain as many IT services acronyms that are relevant to my blog topics, although admittedly, many change right before my very eyes in every IT journal I read.  Sigh.  And, most importantly, we’ll do some deep blog dives into fun things like:

    • Internet Protocols
    • Potential Risks of new ERP implementation/Choosing the Right ERP for your Company
    • Internet Business Models
    • Cloud Computing
    • Software-as-a-Service (Saas)
    • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
    • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
    • Virtualization
    • Cloud Computing Concerns (and how to circumvent potential problems)
    • Risks of Internet Commerce (and how to protect your business and clients)
    • Risk Management and Assurance Services (that you actually need)
    • System Integrity and Access Controls Available
    • How to get VIP passes to SXSW (just kidding!)