Commentary: A solution to the jargon
The accepted jargon for products among software vendors in the IT world is “solutions.”
It’s easy to scoff at the term as abstract and overly “PR.” Is it a system, an application, a platform, a program, a module, a capability, a tool, a managed service, or just a standard thing-a-ma-jig?
A pervasive problem in the IT industry today is customer uncertainty. There is a forest of vendors for shippers to meander through, and often little guidance. Vendor capabilities overlap, so the strong suit of one vendor is encroached upon by an ancillary application from another, and vice versa.
Technologically savvy shippers may know the difference between one vendor’s strength and another’s weakness, but for those that count on their providers to supply that expertise, it’s tough to wade through all the choices.
That’s why it has always made the word “solution” seem that much vaguer in a sea of uncertainty.
But I was reminded recently that the products software developers produce are indeed intended to solve problems. And so the name doesn’t strike me as vague at all anymore.
If you think of a transportation management system as solving a problem — automating the execution of a shipper’s transportation process — then solution sounds perfectly appropriate.
If you think about a visibility tool as providing a shipper the ability to plan which mode and route, carrier and transit time is best suited for a particular load, then that tool has solved a range of problems for that shipper.
Platform, application, module — they’re all just fancy words for describing the building blocks of a successful IT implementation. So forget the sometimes stuffy nomenclature and focus on one thing — how the product can help solve a problem. (Eric Johnson)
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