Digital Natives don’t need Acronyms

In my previous post I explained the birth of acronyms and why they still seem to try and make their way into the technology lexicon.  Now lets examine why acronyms do more harm than good.  The first time this became evident to me was when I spent 90 minutes on the phone with a vendor used the entire time to convince me they were not an MES vendor - they were a “Manufacturing Intelligence System” vendor.  The assertion was I erred when I put them on the Gartner MES magic quadrant.  As we approached the end of time allocated for the call I excused myself explaining I had to go to end-user client call.  The first thing that end-user did was explain to me they were buying a MES application and wanted to know why we positioned three vendors, A, B & C the way we did on the quadrant.  Vendor C being the vendor with whom I just talked to.  I explained since they wanted to buy an MES they could drop vendor C from consideration since they had just spent the last 90 minutes convincing me they were not an MES vendor.  I proceeded to suggest another couple of potential candidates  and we discussed strengths and weaknesses of each.  Three guesses as to who was back on the phone with me in less than four hours complaining about why I told the client not to buy their software?  Vendor C of course.  It turns out that vendor C could, in fact, fulfill every requirement the company had identified in their request for proposal.  The lesson here is that it is the details that matter.  With electronic documents, the internet and web pages there are no more character limits.  We can be as precise and accurate as we need to be.  We can easily display graphical representations of concepts and ideas in real-time.  If a vendor or an analyst starts relying on acronyms in trying to sell their ideas or products you should feel your hype alarm going off.  If someone can’t explain their ideas and value proposition in straight-forward language without resorting to acronyms you need to be talking to someone who can.  

Dan Miklovic is blogger contributor for Control's blog Manufacturing 2010. You can email him at or check out his Google+ profile.