Sarah Lawson Johnston, Chief Revenue Officer, Covatic

Complex jargon is emerging as the seemingly innocuous gatekeeper of fresh talent from today’s technology landscape.

A recent study found that job seekers rated the technology sector as the number one industry for the unnecessary use of jargon and nearly two-thirds (60%) said they were put off by technobabble when applying for roles. Research also indicates that workplace jargon makes life harder for professionals already in the industry, with 40% of respondents admitting to making mistakes because of misunderstanding complex lingo.

Using jargon might feel like it’s helping to assert authority and expertise over complicated subject matters, but this is not the case. Combined with the fact that terminology can differ across sectors, the chances of causing confusion and dissonance are high. In addition, buzzwords in tech are constantly evolving, pushing professionals to regularly incorporate new terms into their lexicon. This can backfire in several ways.

Diversity and talent

Complex jargon can discourage fresh talent from entering the sector, affecting diversity. At a time when less than a third of female students (27%) consider a career in technology, this can also further the gender disparity in STEM. Shattering gender stereotypes, pay gaps, gender-based discrimination, and underrepresentation are difficult enough tasks without adding heavy jargon to the mix.

But this isn’t only true for those entering the tech industry from scratch. Professionals moving jobs or industry verticals may be experts in certain areas but stumped when they join a company that employs an entirely different lexicon. The first few months at a new job are crucial, and feeling out of place or inadequate could sour the experience for new hires who find themselves learning niche terms from scratch, potentially resulting in a higher rate of staff turnover.

Lost in translation

When industry buzzwords are thrown around without explanation, it creates a sense of exclusion, making it challenging for the uninitiated to participate in discussions. This issue is not only limited to the workplace but extends to client communications when explaining the value of what you are offering, leaving space for things to get lost in translation.

Establishing meaningful connections requires accessible terminology that communicates the message at hand. Complicating otherwise simple concepts to ‘impress’ may create distrust and deter potentially interested clients or partners.

It’s unfair to expect clients to understand the benefits of your technology when it is shrouded in layers of tech-speak and not having a common language can lead to connectivity issues and a lack of transparency. Winning over consumers, who dictate trends with their expectations and perceptions, is crucial for business longevity, but to do that, jargon must be turned into clear and accessible language.

Building trust means keeping it simple

The broader impact of indulging in jargon could also fan the ‘mistrust’ of tech in general. For example, the mystery built up around Generative AI (GenAI) has been seen to fuel public distrust.

Studies show that 90% of people believe those who use complicated jargon do it to cover up their own lack of knowledge. When technology is discussed in a language that is incomprehensible to the average person, it breeds suspicion and fear which can have detrimental effects on the adoption of new technologies.

Hence, the responsibility falls to the tech industry to build trust by using clear and straightforward language without alienating users.

Advertising technology (adtech) is one sector that has seen remarkable innovations in recent years but is riddled with complex terminology. Demystifying this language is vital for fostering diversity and restoring trust among wider stakeholders. Simplifying complex terms empowers people to take control of their digital lives, so they can make informed choices about privacy, security, and how they engage with platforms online. Once the veil of jargon is lifted, audiences can be better informed, enabling tech to evolve more smoothly.

The tech industry is at a pivotal juncture where inclusivity and trust are paramount for its future success. By demystifying tech jargon, we’re inviting new voices into the mix and extending olive branches to different lived experiences that will surely have something fresh to say. Tech serves us all, and therefore, it should be accessible to everyone.

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