You love to hate them. Who? The IT support technician who assumes you’re an idiot because you do not speak technobabble. Many small business owners struggle procuring IT services because too many services vendors speak the wrong language. To truly make IT easier for small business, you have to end the technobabble.


If you search for definitions of technobabble or technospeak, you will find a varying themes, but the one I find most apt in the business of IT service management comes from Wikipedia:

Technobabble (a portmanteau of technology and babble), also called technospeak, is a form of prose using jargon, buzzwords and highly esoteric language to give an impression of plausibility through mystification, misdirection, and obfuscation.

Emphasis is mine. While I may be optimistic in believing that most IT service providers do not purposely intend to misdirect, the outcome is the same.

By focusing on a long list to technical attributes, the true business value or lack thereof becomes difficult to discern, leaving small business owners waving their arms in frustration as they try to solve their IT service issues.

Favorite Example

Here’s my favorite example of how technobabble muddies business decisions:

How much to do this?

  • Install Chkrootkit
  • Install RKhunter
  • TMP Directory Hardening
  • Install BFD
  • Setup SPRI

In most cases, the list contains items that are either standard practice or offer no proven technical benefits. I am certain that if asked why they want each of these items, I would get no response.

The long list of jargon creates a false impression of value. Making business decisions on this misdirected value judgment can cost your business significantly.

Finding True Value in IT Services

As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the value of IT services is in the hands of the user. Long lists of purported technical benefits do not deliver value to your business. More importantly, as a small business owner, you should not need to posses a technobabble dictionary to find value in your IT services.

What I often recommend to clients is to establish business oriented goals:

  • If my server fails, I need to recover from the failure with X hours.
  • If I have a security breach, I need my provider to do determine the source of the attack.
  • If I have spam issues, I need access to reliable anti-spam solutions.

With this list in mind, you can then start looking for providers who deliver solutions that meet your business goals. Aligning your business needs with your IT services is when real value emerges.

Partner for the Long Term

Another tip is to find IT service partners who will grow as you grow. They need to keep their staff trained, bring new services to market when they become available, and be flexible enough to accommodate your needs, even if this requires them to recommend another provider.

Profiting from Good IT Partners

A good IT partner can produce a positive return. Check out my guest post 3 Ways Outsourcing Your IT Management Can Make You Money over at HostingCon, where I will be speaking in July.

What Do You Value?

What do you value in a good IT service provider. Do you really care about the technical details provided they work, they use reliable standards and are easy to use?