Tip of the Week: 11 Technology Buzzwords Every SMB Should Know

September 13, 2017

Is talking to someone in the technology industry like speaking with someone in a different language? You’re not alone. It’s no secret that the IT industry loves jargon – and has dozens of buzzwords at any given time. These are a few words that have the industry buzzing right now!

  1. ________ as a Service (XaaS): Between the advances in cloud computing technology and the rapid development and improvement of technology, many businesses have made the jump from traditional hardware or software, on premise, to a virtual, cloud-based environment. XaaS is scalable and easy to upgrade. The host generally performs maintenance and security updates as well as gives users limited control over options and settings. For example, rather than have a physical server (or servers), companies can pay to have a virtual server, usually for a monthly fee. These virtual machines perform the same functions as physical ones without the purchase of hardware or software.
  2. Actionable Analytics: With the vast amount of daily operations using some type of digital technology, businesses are able to pull much more data and analytics. This mountain of data, however, is not all useful. In terms of putting data to use to improve business operations and procedures, only a small percentage of the data available holds value. This portion of data and metrics that can be used to improve business functions is known as actionable analytics.
  3. Artificial Intelligence (AI): There was a time when artificial intelligence, or AI, was associated with movies like ‘The Matrix’ or ‘Terminator.’ Now, the use of the term AI is seeing a resurgence. Based much more in reality, AI today refers to computers processing data from a multitude of sources and making inferences. These advanced machines are capable of speech recognition, learning, planning, and problem solving. (see also Machine Learning)
  4. Blockchain Technology: While the nuances and details of blockchain technology are a bit more complicated, the basic concept is pretty simple… and ingenious. Think of it as a Microsoft Word 365 or Google Document, where a file or record in a database is changed. Those individual changes are recorded and encrypted, as well as, noted in a secure log that can’t be changed or edited. Originally intended for facilitating cryptocurrency transactions, blockchain has the potential to be very useful for things like electronic medical records and legal agreements.
  5. Chatbot: Having revolutionized the way the world communicates, chatbots are a computer program that will convert a conversation, either spoken or typed, in real time. This allows individuals or groups to have conversations with those who speak other languages without speaking a word of that language. For example, chatbots use a database and natural language processing to translate a sentence from American English and into Russian. Chatbots have become more accurate than ever before as the databases expand and machine learning becomes more popular.
  6. Datafication: As mentioned in actionable analytics, businesses are digitizing and producing data, now than ever. Datafication is the process of turning aspects of everyday life into data that can be used, for some type of business purpose. For example, many businesses have begun to use social media activity as a way to gauge the personality of potential employees, abandoning traditional personality tests. Datafaction and analysis of potential employees’ social media activity tends to be more accurate than a standardized personality test.
  7. Decentralized Cryptocurrency: On its face value, the term cryptocurrency sounds foreboding – and its reputation for use with ‘dark web,’ underground sales activity, doesn’t help. In this case, crypto doesn’t refer to something found in a cemetery, but rather currencies sent and received through private and encrypted transactions that occur outside of traditional banking. Additionally, cryptocurrencies tend to be virtual assets – meaning there are no physical manifestations of the currency, like a dollar bill or pound note. The most popular decentralized cryptocurrency is BitCoin. 
  8. Gamification: Many in the workforce grew up in the era of video games, making popular this method of motivating and driving productivity. The general premise applies elements of video games, such as gaining experience points for completing goals, leveling up, and learning a skill set, to a professional setting. For example, rather than set typical sales objectives for a team, gamification might count each sale as a certain amount of experience. Once a team member collects a certain amount of experience, they’d level up – earning a reward.
  9. Machine Learning: One of the most popular things discussed when talking about AI is machine learning. To put it simply, machine learning is the ability for a computer to gather data from different sources, and use algorithms to turn data into reliable predictions. Businesses use machine learning to help them make more accurate predictions about what a customer might want. The more accurate the prediction, the higher the probability of a sale.
  10. Microservices: Rather than purchasing an application or program that has all features contained in a single source code, microservice breaks these features down individually. Several microservices can be bundled together to function as a single program but are easily updated and swapped out for an improved version.
  11. Open-Source: The term ‘open source’ generally refers to a program or source code that is free, modifiable, and available for anyone to use when building an application, program, or integration. This simple concept is widely used by programmers and analysts. This is important for SMBs looking to have a custom application built for their business.

Even though you might never use one of these words in conversation, technology is important to your SMB – and the more you understand about it, the better. Are there any technology terms or phrases that you’re interested in learning more about? Sound off in the comments below or ask one of our team members directly at: (610) 828-5500.

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