Here's a guide to common terms for business software shoppers.
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.
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 tool set.
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.
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 tool sets.
Dashboard – You'll see this term a lot in descriptions of business software. You can think of a dashboard as a sort of homepage for the system you're using. Dashboards usually 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).
POS – Standing for point of sale but also sometimes written as "POS system," this refers to a system (sometimes just software, and sometimes 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 remotely hosted and managed. Today, most SMB 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 software dev employees.
SEO – Search engine optimization is a hot topic right now, and many SMB service providers offer SEO services. 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.
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.
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.