Are you a techno-translator?


One point I try to make to my students is the importance of being a translator in our job as a Systems Engineer. You're a translator between the customer and the technical specialist.  You have to understand the customer domain and needs enough to convey those needs to the techno-geeks, all the while speaking their techno-bable. And you have to understand the technology capabilities and limitations enough in order to explain them to lay people using lay terms. That's the challenge.

And it doesn't help when each technical domain has its own phraseology. Take IT with its bewildering array of terms and buzzwords. Here's an article that highlights the difficulty we System Engineers face as Techno-Translators.

Buzzwords: Making Sense of the IT World by Mary K. Pratt, October 09, 2006 (Computerworld)

Here's an except:

 "IT is riddled with hard ones — obscure jargon, acronyms, catchphrases and made-up words that evolve as fast as technology itself. The dictionary folks can hardly keep up. (For more examples, see Words We Love to Hate.)

While some may find it amusing to bewilder technophobes with technospeak, the prevalent use of insider terminology actually has business — and career — consequences. At the very least, confusion over IT-related buzzwords can lead to miscommunications that breed frustration and waste time. At worst, it can engender serious battles between misunderstood parties that can end in litigation.

“You could be the best technical person in the world, but if you can’t effectively communicate with your business partners, then who cares?” says Jerry Luftman, executive vice president of academic relations at the Society for Information Management (SIM) and associate dean at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J.

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