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Business Technology Terms You Need to Know editorial staff editorial staff

Here's a guide to common terms for business software shoppers.

  • Being familiar with common technological terms is indicative of your knowledge and credibility.
  • It is crucial to ask the right question when purchasing business software. Being conversant with technological terms helps you ask the right questions.
  • Being familiar with technological terms broadens your knowledge base.

Reading about cutting-edge tech like autonomous cars and smart homes is fun, but when you're a business owner tasked with purchasing software and hardware for your company, having a glossary of frequently used terms is helpful. Keep this around while you're looking for tech solutions, and before you know it, this once-incomprehensible jargon will be second nature to you.

A/B testing: This involves a process in which a business creates two pieces of online content and evaluates which one receives the most engagement. The organization can then narrow down on where to invest more in marketing and where to put more advertising revenues.

API:  An application programming interface is sometimes listed as a feature in a bundled software subscription. In the simplest terms, an API acts as a sort of bridge between different applications. When you see that a software product can integrate with other software products, for example, it's typically an API doing the heavy lifting. Some software products allow users to create their own APIs as well. 

BI: Business intelligence is essentially data analysis specific to technology and business. That aside, BI is much like other data analysis in that it focuses on identifying trends and predicting future outcomes. A lot of software incorporates analytics and BI into its toolset.

Click-to-call: This describes a feature within business software wherein the user may literally click on contact information stored in the system and make a call directly from that system. This feature is generally most valuable for employees who work in sales or customer service.

Cloud hosting: This is where companies pay for their data to be stored on virtual servers. These servers are said to be based in the cloud and can only be accessed through internet connections. To access this information, businesses use software interfaces that is specific to their cloud hosting service providers.

CMS: This stands for content management system, a system that helps organize, manage and publish digital content. WordPress is perhaps the best-known CMS, but many types of business software have a CMS component.

CRM: Customer relationship management software, also referred to as a CRM, helps companies manage client information and streamline the sales process. Some software is marketed as CRM software exclusively while other business software products include CRM features as part of their broader toolsets.

Dashboard: Think of a dashboard as a homepage for the system you're using. Dashboards give you an overview of whatever information is available from the system, and in a good dashboard, that information is updated automatically (this is sometimes called a live dashboard).

Data center: This is a facility that houses data storage systems, servers and computers. Google and Amazon own many data centers.

DNS: This stands for domain name service. Domain names are translated into numbers on an IP address, which is translated into the browser address bar. The directory of those numbers is DNS.

Email marketing: This involves the promotion of products and services via email. Emails are created in such a way that they include images, videos and other attractive content that email users are likely to view. Many organizations use email marketing software to manage campaigns, distribution lists and analytics.

Impressions: This is an image or opinion created in the mind when social media content is seen. This can be positive or negative. It is essential that you give a long-lasting positive impression.

Market automation: These are domain name service that measure marketing efforts through such tools as customer relationship management, emails, reporting and analytics.

MVP: Minimum viable product refers to the simplest function of a product that will be improved upon as the company grows. It is often developed by companies to check their reception in the market. Its purpose is to get as much information about a product while spending fewer resources.

Organic: This term refers to content that individuals find because they came across it through their own keyword searches rather than paid through a paid promotion like an ad on Google.

POS: An initialism for point of sale but also sometimes written as "POS system," this refers to a system (which can comprise only software or hardware with preloaded POS software) that can process payment transactions and track inventory. 

SaaS: This stands for software as a service, which is any software that is offered through a subscription, and is remotely hosted and managed. Today, most software is SaaS.

SDK: A software development kit is often offered as a feature or add-on for high-end business software products. SDKs do just what they say: enable users to create software applications for specific platforms. If you aren't sure you'll use an add-on SDK in your business, ask your IT or employees.  

SEO: SEO is an umbrella term for the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making sure your website or content ranks well on a Google search, showing up on the first page of results. Improving your search ranking makes it easier for new clients to find your business.

Server hosting: This refers to offsite management and upkeep of hardware resources that are meant for company use. Businesses rent a space on a remote server or use a managed hosting service.

VPN: A virtual private network is something businesses and other organizations use to ensure a high level of security. A VPN creates password-protected entry to a private network within a public network. This allows remote employees and onsite employees to connect to both the internet and internally used applications and systems, with the same level of security as if they were all onsite and using company machines.

Web app: This is a web page that acts and looks like an app on tablets or smartphones. Viewers are provided with a familiar format and more intuitive navigation, making it mobile-friendly.

White label: This term is used a lot by software companies that offer app creation and website-building tools. All it means is that the product you customize (i.e., the app or website) can be branded with your company's name, color scheme and logos rather than the name of the company that sells the creation tools.

Image Credit: Kirill Smyslov / Getty Images editorial staff editorial staff Member
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