IT departments suffering a breakdown in communication

Vendors and enterprises are in need of a universal translator, says Billy MacInnes
Image: Darwin Laganzon, Pixabay

28 January 2021

My attention was piqued by an interesting press release from Kaspersky this week which basically said the majority of CISOs don’t really understand what security vendors are talking about.

The release didn’t put it exactly like that but that’s what it said, more or less. According to Kaspersky, 63% of CISOs said information from cybersecurity vendors was “too complicated to convey to the rest of their business, while almost 60% believe it would take too much time and resource to even try”.

The same research also found 58% felt the vendors they worked with didn’t understand the threats they were facing.




Flawed defence

Principal security researcher David Emm said the results showed “an alarming disconnect between vendors and enterprises, leading to flaws in cyber-defences and a lack of the right technologies being harnessed to ensure strong cybersecurity posture.”

In defence of security vendors, I’d like to say it’s not just them. There’s an awful lot of this stuff across the IT industry.

Basically, a lot of terminology and language used by vendors is way too complicated for most people.

I’m not surprised that a lot of CIOs and IT managers find it very hard to talk to other parts of the business in the same language vendors use to talk to them.

In fact, there are probably a lot of them who find it hard to understand what vendors are saying to them, so no wonder they struggle to pass it on to other people in the business.

If we accept the vast majority of them do know what vendors are talking about, the fact they can’t translate it into simple terms for everyone else to understand is pretty damning. It suggests the language is almost deliberately complicated or obfuscatory, as if it’s been passed through a gibberish filter.

Go easy or go home

As for vendors, they either believe ordinary people understand what they’re saying or they expect CIOs and IT managers to translate on their behalf. Neither of those options reflects well on them.

Let’s not rule out the option of a little bit of bluffery going on. As vendors spout what can sound like gobbledydook, IT managers and CIOs have a choice: ask them to explain it in simple language or pretend to understand it, go along with it and learn it later. Sometimes, it must be easier just to go along with the flow.

If we discount the prospect of vendors suddenly adopting the plain English guide and rule out CIOs and IT managers becoming translators, the best way of breaking this cycle of jargon dependency is for channel partners to do the translating for them.

It might just be me, but I think a channel translation service would be very attractive to customers.

I accept there is a temptation for partners in the middle of the vendor/customer engagement to just go along with the flow and save themselves time and effort but that would be to miss out on an opportunity to help make their customers happy. And you shouldn’t need anyone to translate what happy means.

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