Open Wide for more Tech-World Alphabet Soup

FRAMINGHAM (05/01/2000) - Y2k is over, and I'm in deep yogurt. I'm behind.

Uninformed. I'm clueless when it comes to the latest technologies.

There are about a hundred new three-letter acronyms that I don't know about - e-commerce abbreviations that dominate cocktail-party conversation but to me are just confusing consonants. There's CRM. DSL. And SCM, ASP, ISP and everybody's favorite, ERP.

I'm no stranger to abbreviations. Way back in my happier mainframe days, we had JCL, RJE and TSO. I could sling the slang with the best of them. But today, I'm afraid to look another acronym in the face. I can't talk about ROI. I know not of IPOs. I'm struggling with this alphabe-torture and need to bone up on it - PDQ.

Worse yet, new three-letter blends show up every day. FYI, here are the hottest ones. Learn them! Say them in meetings! Put them on your résumé (at least so you can CYA)!

VRM: Vendor relationship management, or the ability to get a sales guy to respond to three reqests for proposals in six months, award him no business and still soak him for two seats right behind the dugout.

CWA: Competitive Web analysis, or taking the time to evaluate the e-business strategies of other companies in your industry. My company really isn't too swift at this, but our main competitor is, since it just hired away the two guys running our electronic-procurement project.

WEA: Web-enabled applications, or the ability to take legacy systems and give them an Internet look and feel. We've struggled a bit with this over the last six months, but were finally able to roll out Phase 1: giving everyone a screen saver.

WDA: Web-disabled applications, or what we had after we got hacked to the tune of $140,000 the day we went live.

WWD: Wireless Web display, or the ability to take Web pages and reformat them for small cell-phone screens. This is the next can't-miss Internet idea, as long as you can find a way to keep those teeny-tiny banner ads from frying your eyeballs.

TDM: Text data mining, which is a quick way to gather knowledge out of gazillions of unrelated documents. For example, a law firm can now find thousands of references having anything to do with "browser privacy lawsuits" in minutes instead of days but will still charge you an exorbitant fee so it can stick another marble coffee table in the lobby.

VPT: Virtual project teams, which allow people in different locations to collaborate on the same project using cellular, text paging and sophisticated groupware technologies. We just finished a big cost accounting implementation, and our VPT enabled our programmers to work from India, our project manager to telecommute and our ERP consultant to bill most of his time from the golf course.

SCM: Supply-chain mismanagement, which is - somehow - what we wound up with after three years of supply-chain projects, $2.6 million in software and 3,100 missing ice-maker subassemblies that the system insists are somewhere between Dayton and Toledo.

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