In the technology industry, we rely heavily on acronyms in conversation to minimize the terms that we commonly use, so much to the point where Avnet literally has an internal dictionary of 500 plus acronyms for reference. Although these terms are used frequently and understood by those in the channel, including those that we use often in the cloud: ACT, AWS, Iaas, Saas, Paas, when I explain what I do to those who may not work in technology, I often get blank stares. I found the article below, written by IBM Software Client Architect Albert Barron, to be quite humorous as he puts a twist on explaining the cloud industry and the “as-a-Service” model by relating it to something that everyone loves and understands – Pizza. Read the article below, Pizza-as-a-Service, and let us know in the comments if there are any other ways you explain what you do in the channel to those who may not understand the business.
As technologists, we tend to live in a world of acronyms and terms quite common to those of us in the industry. But this abbreviated language can seem like a foreign language to those outside of it. Recently, while on a bicycle ride, a friend and I were talking technology. In our conversation, I mentioned SOA and the not so recent shift from WS to REST and JSON. I brought up some of the most current cloud announcements and how easily we can now dynamically scale applications or spin up environments. However, five minutes into my rambling
the conversation he asked, “What’s SOA?” Without missing a beat I replied, “It’s a TLA”.
I then stopped, not literally of course, as I would’ve caused a crash in our weekend makeshift peloton! I stopped when I quickly realized I had just committed a cardinal sin. I assumed he knew the terminology and the technology, though he isn't in the field. And admittedly, since I am passionate about technology, I'm sometimes blissfully unaware that others may not be like me. I began explaining to my friend that TLA is a bit of a joke within the IT industry because it is actually an acronym for a three letter acronym! Yes, us techies rival today's teen in making the English language as short as possible.
My babbling made me think back to a recent training session I had the privilege of attending where Professor Stuart Gilson of Harvard University (a professor of Finance) explained the premise of corporate leveraged buyouts (LBO). The session was extremely informative and the delivery of his explanation was thought provoking, something I will never forget. In his lecture, he could have easily digressed into a world of financial jargon and most of us would have likely started daydreaming. However, he explained a leveraged buyout in terms of purchasing a home, which is essentially a leveraged buyout. As I looked around the room, everyone was engaged. Why? Because we all understood it, we have all experienced it and we were all on the same page.
So I backtracked a bit in my conversation with my cycling friend and explained the basic acronyms. I even touched on topics such as mobile, cloud and wearable devices, all of the stuff that gets me fired up! Then I lost him again. Somewhere in the conversation I mentioned SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, etc. and again he asked “What’s aaS?” I broke down the basics of cloud computing and its associated service models by using the example of making a pizza. The premise of the “Pizza as a Service” example is quite simple and can be explained as: 1. You can make a pizza at home where you’re responsible for buying all of the ingredients including making the dough. 2. You can purchase some of the ingredients and buy pre-packaged dough. 3 You can have pizza delivered to your home. 5. You can simply load up the family and head out for pizza at your local dining establishment. In each case you’re still having pizza however in some cases you do all of the work and others you have other people do the work for you.
As it turns out, the pizza example was something he could relate to and it reaffirmed that sometimes we simply have to take a step back and keep things simple. It's not a new concept, but it’s something a techie easily forgets! Thanks to Professor Gilson for helping me to remember that sometimes keeping it simple is the best way to deliver a message. Time for lunch..pizza anyone?