Dont Mess Around with Good Acronyms

Opinion: A third definition for "POS" is two too many for this columnist. Beware the ides of DEC.

The high-tech industry in general—and retail IT is certainly no exception—loves acronyms. The more obtuse, the better. Engineers, designers and programmers come up with them because its fun. Marketing execs use them to simultaneously impress and baffle customers. And PR people use them because ... well ... the young ones dont know any better.

But there are a handful of acronyms that have actual meanings and are widely understood; so to try to change an age-old acronym for a marketing spin is nothing shy of evil. In the dictionary next to "evil," there should be pictures of Hitler, Bin Laden, a cartoon of Boris Badenoff tying a girl to a railroad track and some marketer coming up with new meanings for CRM, ATM or POS.

POS, BTW, stands for "point of sale" and thats the way the universe wants it. Last year, Microsoft—the dastardly king of the bad acronym makers—started using POS to refer to "point of service."

/zimages/4/28571.gifTo read about Microsofts push into the POS space, click here.

Microsoft had a legitimate point—that mobile devices can be used to help customers learn about prospects and might not necessarily execute a sale—but why not use some other letter combination to communicate this new concept? Why burden your branding effort by first forcing retail IT execs to unlearn what they have learned?

Not only that, but this week, I received an e-mail from a company calling itself Prescient Applied Intelligence that it is trying to sell a new "POS audit tool," only these folks are defining POS as "pay on scan."

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