6/22/2010

Explaining technical products to non-technical people

When people ask what your company does, what do you say? If your company makes cars or chairs or smartphones, the answer is relatively easy. But if your company makes realtime operating systems or development tools, the answer is too down in the weeds for most people.

Explaining a technical product to a non-technical audience is a challenge. To succeed, you have to reach out to people on their level, without being condescending. Most people love a good explanation, but everyone hates being talked down to.

The secret is to connect your product to the things that people do every day. At QNX, for example, we realized that our technology affects people whether they eat a donut, drive to work, flip a light switch, or upload a video. So that's how we start the conversation.

Chances are, you used QNX technology today, without knowing it. I find that this is a great opening sentence. I follow it up with some of the examples that QNX recently published in the press release "30 Ways QNX Touches Your Life." For example, QNX touches your life when you:
  • Flip a light switch — QNX technology controls thousands of power-generation systems worldwide, from wind turbines to nuclear stations to hydroelectric plants.

  • Call for help — By leveraging the unmatched reliability of QNX technology, 9-1-1 dispatch systems deliver emergency assistance 24/7, nonstop.

  • Eat a jelly donut — QNX-based food inspection systems detect dangerous contaminants and can even spot items with missing ingredients, such as jelly donuts that have no jelly.

  • Get a caffeine fix — Car navigation systems based on QNX technology not only provide automatic route selection and turn-by-turn directions, but can even track down the nearest coffee shop if you’re thirsting for a latté.

  • Watch an action flick — QNX technology powers motion-control systems that create some of Hollywood’s most spectacular special effects and stunts.
What about you? Have you had success explaining your technical product to non-technical audiences, be they reporters, analysts, or your great aunt Mildred? If so, what worked? What didn't?

1 comment:

Walter Arseneault said...

Hello! Thank you for all these very good informations.... Could you tell us, about action flick, in what film they used QNX Technology... Please tell some great title or famous stunt made by some great actors?