By Paul Higgins, head of marketing at Opal, the UK's leading provider of next generation communications technology for business.

For small business owners, over-use of technical jargon from IT and technology suppliers can be a real annoyance with difficult-to-understand terminology commonplace.

However, more than just an inconvenience, our new research has revealed that vendors using confusing jargon can in fact be quite damaging with 79% of owner managers admitting having made a bad decision as a direct result of this, and 71% believing its use has increased in the last five years.

With this in mind, what’s important is for owner-mangers to focus on the business benefits of technology, rather than getting weighed down with acronyms. Some of the most common ‘confusing’ technical terms identified in the research in IT and telecoms emerged as Next Generation Network, “Ethernet” and “VoIP”, which is alarming, given the huge business benefits these technologies bring.

More than 60% of people didn’t know what a Next Generation Network is. In simple terms this is a type of communication network based on high-speed, optical fibre, meaning all sorts of data, including voice and broadband, can be carried down the same line. It is a step on from the type of legacy network which traditionally just carry telephone calls; think of it like having a motorway lane all to yourself. The benefits of a Next Generation Network are far reaching; you can get high performance with a low cost base, and you can constantly build on extra features to your network, ensuring it will never go out of date.

Meanwhile, more than half of respondents admitted to not understanding VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), which is the ability to carry a voice call over your broadband connection. Skype is a mainstream consumer example of this, but there are now highly sophisticated b2b systems that allow all your office phones to run via VoIP. In simple terms this means huge cost savings, as well as a much more flexible and sophisticated phone service for your business.
Finally, 40% of owner managers didn’t understand Ethernet. This technology is a fibre-based, rather than copper-based telecoms connection, direct to your business. What this means is hugely improved connection speeds, allowing for the transfer of large quantities of data, as well as really making bandwidth-hungry applications, such as high quality video conferencing facilities, become a reality.

Opal is taking steps to present technical information as clearly and concisely as possible. For more information, visit www.Opal.co.uk