Sunday, February 10, 2008

Speaking Our Customers' Language

brain.jpgEddie Awad discussed an interesting oracle Press release in his blog and the reaction of the Wall Street Journal Tech Blog too it. Eddie mused that as he is not a network techie it doesn't mean much to him, this is intentional. The pres release was made at a network industry conference and was aimed at that particular group of people who would understand it.

Since Oracle went on it's acquisition spree a few years ago, it has started to focus on industry specific applications more and more. Examples are the purchase of retek, a retail industry software vedor and Portal which produces telecom billing applications. May of these indusrty verticals are organized in their own business unit and we don't just want the Apps, we need the experts in that industry to help us build hte best apps, market, sell and support them. This focus on industry verticals is not unique to Oracle, for example most accountancy firms organize their business so partners specialize in an industry. One of the main reasons for this is so we can learn to speak the same language as our customers and better understand the business issues facing them.

Even when I talk to customers about Intercompany accounting, which is governed by strict laws and accounting rules the challenges vary from say a service based customer to a manufacturer.

So if you don't understand this press release from Oracle, you don't need to product they are selling you. Don't worry though, I expect Oracle does has something that will speak to your particular business too, if not maybe we're in the market for a company that does talk to you in your own language.


Eddie Awad said...

David, so this type of press release is not meant for mass public consumption, but rather aimed at a specific industry and technical people who already understand the product or at least understand the technical jargon in the release. If this is true, than it makes sense that I do not understand it :) Cheers!

David Haimes said...

@Eddie - spot on. These Apps are probably not for you

APC said...

I'm reminded of Fortnum and Mason, the London grocery store. In the old days this place was so posh that they didn't put prices on their goods. If you had to ask you couldn't afford it; and if you did ask they would ignore you, because asking clearly showed you were infra dig.

Of course these days it is all different. F&M survives on the custom it gets from tourists, especially Americans and Japanese. So it not only has price labels on its shelves, it also has signs in katakana.

The thing is, purchasers of Oracle products don't read press releases. Journalists read press releases. The purpose of a press release is to get journalists to write stories which generate publicity for the product. These stories in turn will lead companies to task their techies with finding out more.

So the real customers for a press release are journalists, and as such the release ought to be written in a language they understand. The hardcore jargon should be reserved for whitepapers.

By the way, am I the only one to find irony in the name of the product under discussion (Oracle Communications)?

Cheers, APC

APC said...

The Oracle Coomunications press release is a model of clarity compared to a white paper on "Symbiotic Ephemeralization" from the Institute For Enterprise Architecture Developments which is roundly mocked by The Register in this article:

Cheers, APC

Jake said...

I'm either a jargon freak or a hardcore geek b/c I knew what the release was about from the headline.

APC makes a good point, but I would qualify it by saying that David's point applies to them as well, i.e. if you don't understand the jargon, you shouldn't and probably don't care.

Additional consumers include anyone who searches for any of those keywords, but again, the point is made. Use the proper terminology.

David Haimes said...


Fair point, a press release is aimed at the press. However I would say if your readers won't understand this, you don't need to write about it.

Bear in mind this press release comes from the MPLS WORLD CONGRESS in Paris. The press covering that will be industry press with a focus at a the telco industry I expect so they will know what it means.