Network managers unite!

We (that's you, me and everyone connected with managing networks) get no respect. We're misunderstood. Now I've got proof.

          We (that's you, me and everyone connected with managing networks) get no respect. We're misunderstood. Now I've got proof.

          Scott Kersner writes for The Boston Globe. He also writes for Wired magazine and a sister International Data Group online publication, Darwin. It's this latter I'd like you to take a look at, specifically a column called How to Decipher the Double-talk of the Techno-Tribe. You gather that he might be a tad biased when he says: "nontechnologists inside a company - let's call them 'normal people' - often have the best information . . . ."

          The column goes on to "interpret" so-called acronym-ese as spoken by tech gurus. But what it takes to task are those fatuous marketing phrases we all dread - things such as "Our solution is plug-and-play," "We've got multiple provisional patents," and "The analyst firms say . . . ."

          According to the press releases for Darwin, the site is intended for CxO types - in theory, people who wouldn't know a technology (or a guru) if they tripped over one. Now if they take what Darwin says to heart, they're going to think that all the marketing clap-trap they read is produced by techies - the engineers, programmers, network managers and others who they don't respect.

          I wouldn't have brought it up, though, if I didn't have a few suggestions about how to handle this.

          First, you have to be sure you are invited whenever a technology vendor is making a presentation to your company. Surprisingly, this is the hardest step. Often, the nontech managers will try to have these meetings without you present. They do this because it's their experience that you contradict the marketing people from the vendor and challenge their glossy pamphlets.

          Second, contradict the marketing people and challenge their glossy pamphlets. Suggest that their meaningless cliched phrases are in fact meaningless. Ask them for details, then translate into everyday language for the nontech managers.

          Third, thoroughly investigate the subject of the meeting - the technology, the vendor and especially the problem or situation that needs to be answered. Be prepared with suggestions of steps to be taken, software to acquire or technology to implement that will solve the problem.

          Kearns, a former network administrator, is a freelance writer and consultant in Silicon Valley.

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