Don't let technical jargon hold you back!

Pesky IT acronyms may have left you stupefied. Even for the IT industry veterans, the volume of acronyms and jargon bandied about means that business leaders are left baffled and confused.
In protest a we’ve created this guide that explains exactly what these pesky IT terms actually mean in plan English. There’s no need to get your tongue in a twist.

First of all, let’s deal with two terms that appear frightening, but are in fact delightfully simple:

What is an ERP system?

ERP stands for enterprise resource planning. The easiest way to think about ERP is the main system that you use to run the core processes of your business, such as finance, procurement, manufacturing, HR, supply chain, service delivery or even delivering services. An ERP system will manage key assets and resources such as stock as well as accounts payable, accounts receivable and your sales and general ledgers.

What is a CRM system?

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a software solution that gives you a complete 360 degree view of your customers, prospects and other organisations that you deal with. It pulls together information from your sales, marketing and customer service operations, automating manual processes and making information visible and easy to access for people across your company. It can be used by people from any department, from sales and marketing through to service, technical support.

Account

In your CRM system, an account is typically a company or organisationand has many contacts or individuals associated with it. An account could be a customer, a supplier or even a partner for example.

Application Programming Interface

API is an acronym for Application Programming Interface. In simple terms, it’s a link that allows two different applications to talk to each other. It’s an easy way to connect hundreds of different pieces of software together to create powerful business processes.

API

See Application Programming Interface

Back-End

The back-end of an application or a piece of software is the ‘bit you don’t see’ that powers it. This includes the technology and processes that happen behind the scenes, typically on a server or in the cloud. In contrast the ‘front end’ of an application is the bit you actually see on your screen.

BI

See Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence software or platforms help to analyse data such as your revenue, costs and service or marketing performance. Typically, these “BI” systems display the data intelligently in a dashboard, so you can see trends and key insights at a glance. You can drill down to see the data behind the trends. The objective of business intelligence is to give you insights about your business, enabling you to make informed decision.

Cloud Computing

Cloud based software means you access it on-demand via the internet. You are able to run powerful applications across your business, without the need for expensive servers an hardware on-site. It’s highly cost effective. There’s three different types of cloud computing; Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PasS) and Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas). Software-as-a-service means the cost of software is split into monthly, quarterly or annual payments. You often pay per user per month an in return receive a fully managed, on-demand service including support.

Contact

A contact is an individual or person found within your CRM system. A group of people from the same organisation is known as an account.

Content Management System (CMS)

A content management system allows you to update and add content to your website, without needing the expertise of a web-designer or coder. It means you can add news, blog posts or manage the inventory of products sold by your company.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a software solution that gives you a complete 360 degree view of your customers, prospects and other organisations that you deal with. It pulls together information from your sales, marketing and customer service operations, automating manual processes and making information visible and easy to access for people across your company. It can be used by people from any department, from sales and marketing through to service, technical support.

Datacentre

A datacentre is a secure place where applications run on large servers. Some companies have their own datacentres, but thanks to cloud computing, you can access your applications from a shared datacentre, where sophisticated technology keeps your data self-contained and secure. Datacentres tend to be highly secure locations, with high-security, back-up generators in case of a power failure and ‘redundancy’ meaning that your data is replicated in multiple locations.

EDI

See Electronic Data Interchange

Electronic Data Interchange

Electronic data interchange is a way for organisations to exchange business documents, paperlessly from computer to computer. EDI is a special document format that reduces cost, increases processing speed and reduces errors.

Enterprise Resource Management (ERM)

Enterprise resource management (ERM) is the same as Enterprise Resource Planning (see the next item).

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

ERP stands for enterprise resource planning. The easiest way to think about ERP is the main system that you use to run the core processes of your business, such as finance, procurement, manufacturing, HR, supply chain, service delivery or even delivering services. An ERP system will manage key assets and resources such as stock as well as accounts payable, accounts receivable and your sales and general ledgers.

Enterprise Service Management (ESM)

Enterprise Service Management is the process of giving your employees access to on-demand services, often through an online portal. Such services could include the ability to onboard a new employee, access a Helpdesk or even procure new equipment or services. By giving your employees access to a catalogue of services, it avoids the need for phone calls, emails and other manual time consuming tasks.

Financial Management System (FMS)

Financial management systems combine multiple functions including accounting, fixed asset management, revenue recognition and payment management. By bringing these key components together, FMS ensures a real-time view into the financial state of your company.

Human Capital Management (HCM)

Human capital management software looks after critical processes relating to your employees. This can include managing your talent, payroll, remuneration and compensation. HCM systems are designed to maximise the productivity of your people, facilitating collaboration and ensuring employee information is stores securely and in a user friendly format.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

With Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), your company is provided with IT hardware that is exclusively for your use, either on-site at your own premises or inside a 3rd party datacenter. You only pay for what you use.

Java

Java is a programming language originally developed at Sun Microsystems. Quite simply, it helps developers to create applications faster that will run smoother. You don’t need to know any more than that!

Javascript

Javascript is something used by developers to make content dynamic and interactive. This could to animate something or to update content automatically for example.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

A key performance indicator is a unit of success that demonstrates how effectively you are reaching your goals or objectives. It could be expressed as a quantity (e.g. units sold) or as a financial amount.

Machine Learning

Machine learning (or Artificial Intelligence - AI) is the process of computers being trained to imitate the way humans learn and improve their accuracy. Machine learning means that over time, software can ‘be taught’ to process huge amounts of data autonomously. Over time, the algorithm in the software becomes better and better at solving problems or business challenges.

Managed Services

Managed services is simply the outsourcing of certain processes in your business. For example, you may wish to outsource IT support, so that when your people need help, they contact the 3rd party contractor to solve the problem. It can be a more cost effective approach than having full-time employees to deliver these same services in-house.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation replaces repetitive activities with smart automations, allowing your marketing team to achieve more in less time. Automated activities could be sending emails, posting to social media or automatically sending a series of emails to prospects to keep them engaged. This approach can deliver a more personalised experience.

Opportunity

Found in your CRM system, an opportunity is a potential sale. It will be logged with the potential order value, the items that will likely be ordered and detail on when the deal is likely to be closed.

Order Management

Order management within a business solution or system takes care of what happens once the customer has signed the contract or placed a confirmed order. This will involve sending instructions to the warehouse for the items to be picked and despatched, or in the case of manufacturing, will ensure raw materials are ordered and a slot allocated in the factory so that the ordered products are fabricated in time for the agreed date of delivery.

PaaS

See Platform as a Service

Pipeline

The ‘Pipeline’ in your CRM system refers to the different stages of your sales cycle. A deal will often start as a lead that needs to be qualified. If buying intent is shown, then this lead will become a prospect and an opportunity raised against this prospect. Your pipeline will have a financial value, giving you the ability to predict how much revenue is due in. For example, you might say that some opportunities are cold, warm and hot. The hot opportunities are those that are the closest to becoming a real signed order.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service (PaaS) means you pay as you go for an online environment that provides everything you need to run apps and enterprise applications (or solutions) in the cloud. Think of it like an all inclusive hotel. In return for an agreed monthly fee, you are given the environment where your business solutions gets everything it needs to run effectively and at maximum efficiency.

Sales Force Automation

Sales Force Automation is a part of a CRM system that deals specifically with optimising the sales process. It helps to automate routine tasks in the sales process. It helps to track your sales pipeline and deals, remind salespeople when they need to get back in touch with a prospect or even send out emails automatically to nurture prospects over time.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a Service (SaaS) refers to applications that are delivered as a service over the Internet, without needing to install and run the applications at the customer's own site. A SaaS solution must be accessible via a web browser, be multi-tenant, have subscription-based pricing and offer automatic version upgrades, patching and security updates.

Suite

The large software vendors such as Microsoft or Netsuite will often offer a ‘suite’ of products that share a common interface, code-base and database. A suite will often comprise of accounting software, an ERP and a CRM system.
These are able to work seamlessly with each other and because they share a common look and feel (interface), they are easier for your teams to master.

Stack

A stack (or sometimes called a solutions stack) is the combination of all the technologies and services used to create and build one single application. Facebook for example, combines coding frameworks and languages such as JavaScript, HTML, CSS, PHP and ReactJS. This is their tech stack.

Unified IT

Unified IT means bringing all your disparate systems together, into one integrated system. It means you can say goodbye to double keying and duplication of data (and effort) across your organisation.

Virtualisation

Virtualisation allows companies to simplify their IT infrastructure. Instead of needing multiple servers, virtualisation means multiple ‘virtual machines’ can run in parallel on a single server. In simple terms, it means you can cut your IT costs significantly whilst running applications and business solutions with great efficiency.

Warehouse Management System

Warehouse Management System A warehouse management system (WMS) is used to control the movement and storage of materials, assets and stock within a warehouse.

Web Services

A web service is any piece of software that makes itself available over the internet, for connection to another application of some kind. The applications talk to each other using a standardised language, for simplicity.

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