CXO

The Weekly Round-Up: Robot car parks and IT's techno-babble habit

"I can't fix your broken laptop - I'm re-architecting the mainframe's synergising doodad enabler"

Jargon: the best friend of the overworked techie.

What better way to scare off the suits that occasionally wander into the inner sanctum of the IT department, than to blast them with a stream of techno gibberish?

You know how it goes: "Sorry, I can't fix your broken laptop - again - because I'm re-architecting the mainframe's synergising doodad enabler. Have you tried turning it off and on again?"

But it seems that business managers are now getting a bit fed up with the IT folk's tendency to mutter about needing some "end-to-end VoIP virtualised cloud doohickeys" whenever they're asked why the accounts system is down again.

According to a survey of owners and managers at 500 small businesses, IT is the worst offender when it comes to spouting confusing jargon - beating finance, sales and marketing and even HR. Yay! IT finally wins at something. Oh.

Nearly three-quarters of the small business bosses said tech jargon (or as the IT department would have it "ICT gobbledygook solutionising") has got worse in the last five years.

But more than just being an annoyance, the study by Opal, part of TalkTalk Group, found that the use of obscure terminology actually leads businesses to make bad decisions.

More than half of the respondents admitted confusing technical terms (The Round-Up hopes those terms are slightly more obscure that "server" or "internet") have caused them to 'occasionally' make decisions they didn't fully understand, while one in eight said this happened 'regularly'.

And four out of ten business owners admitted to being sold a technical solution they didn't want - or even need - because of overuse of confusing jargon. And an impressive one in eight of these captains of industry said this happened 'frequently'.

Yes indeed. The Round-Up is now thinking of moving into IT sales as these figures suggest that all you have to do to make a sale these days is talk tech-twaddle while an uncomprehending manager nods and smiles and then asks where they should sign. Throw in a couple of mouse mats and the poor soul will probably think they've signed the deal of the century.

Fortunately the majority of business owners seem to be a bit more clued up - eight out of ten said they are put off from scoping out new projects or even speaking to suppliers because they fear confusing jargon during the sell.

One in five said using jargon fosters distrust and shows a lack of understanding of their business needs. And rightly so: read what silicon.com's editor Steve Ranger thinks of the overuse of jargon by IT in his latest Editor's Notebook: Time for IT to break free from the nerd instinct.

And of course if you are fed up with having to decoding industry buzzwords, why not check out silicon.com's series of Cheat Sheets which does the job for you: recent de-jargonising includes Windows Phone 7, cloud computing and the internet of things all explained with nary a "synergising" to be seen.



Holidays - how do you decide where to go? Maybe it's a place you've been before, or somewhere you've never been before. The Round-Up, for example, decides its holiday destination by calculating the maximum distance from the office that can be achieved without actually leaving the planet (although the Sea of Tranquillity is meant to be very nice at this time of year).

But it seems that at least some of you use Google Street View to help decide where to take your two weeks in the sun - one in ten Brits apparently now check out Google Street View before choosing their holiday destination. Which rather takes the surprise out of turning up at a half-built hotel at 3am, but never mind.

Of course, just because you can see it on Google Street View, that doesn't mean it's easy to get there for a holiday. For example - Antarctica.

The world's southernmost continent has just been added to the Google application and while it's not exactly over-burdened with streets, this hasn't stopped Google snapping a few photos on Half Moon Island in Antarctica.

As well as snow, boulders and the odd marker flag, the Google pics have captured a few of the locals going about their daily business.

By which the Round-Up means penguins. And at least one rather bemused looking seal.

If this is all a bit too fancy for you, check out our tour of Google Street View showcasing Britain's best landmarks instead.



Finally this week: car parks. Surely one of the most fiendish challenges that any motorist has to navigate. Tiny bays that you'd be lucky to get a bicycle into. Concrete pillars covered in paint peeled from cars that unwisely tried to back into the narrow spaces.

And even if you do manage to get out of your car without scratching it (and manage to squeeze out of the car through the six- inch gap between you and the next vehicle) you'll almost certainly not be able to find it when you return.

But could technology be the answer? A new high-tech car park in The Cube - a recently opened complex in Birmingham containing offices, shops, cafes, bars and apartments - aims to take the effort out of finding a parking space.

The underground car park takes cars from a designated drop-off point to empty spaces using a system of lifts and sliding shelves that move vehicles around the facility. Once on the shuttle units, the cars can be moved vertically and horizontally between three levels and taken to one of the 339 parking bays that are available.

And when car owners return to the car park, they scan their pass and the system retrieves their car, which can then be driven straight out of the car park. Take a look at the photos of it in action here: Photos: The car park that parks your vehicle for you.



Elsewhere on silicon.com this week: find out why CIOs don't want toroll-out tablet devices any time soon and find out why Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer thinks the cloud will automate a whole bunch of IT jobs. And as ever, check out the excellent links below.

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