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Explainer: Decode the latest business tech terms from A-V

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

This is your go-to resource for understanding tricky tech terms - feel free to bookmark this page for future reference.

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The acronyms and jargon words that come with new technology can be tricky to keep up with. So, we’ve created a (regularly updated) glossary of terms from actionable analytics to Voice-User Interface (VUI) and everything in between.

Actionable analytics:

When you hear people talking about big data, the term actionable analytics is likely to pop up. It refers to the act of analysing data with the aim of revealing any issues and their underlying causes. The actionable part of the term comes into play when an action plan to solve these issues is put into place. A retail store owner could use this handy technology jargon to find out why some products sell better than others and learn how to make better profits.

Application Programming Interface (API):

This refers to a set of programs and tools that enable apps to ‘talk’ to one another. For example, if you’ve embedded Google Maps on your website to help your customers find you, you’re using an API.

Artificial intelligence (AI):

Artificial intelligence might have been the buzz word back in 2019 but it’s use in new technology hasn’t faded. AI refers to the intelligence of machines and their ability to learn and adapt with data to achieve a specific goal. The ability to automate complex tasks offers businesses particularly greater efficiency.

Augmented reality (AR):

Augmented reality is the process of adding digitally created elements like sounds, videos, or GPS data to the physical world. You need specialist AR glasses or a smartphone to access AR capabilities. Pokemon Go and Ikea Place are probably the most well known AR apps currently available.

Automated marketing:

Also known as marketing automation, this tech term is the label given to software that automates common marketing tasks, like scheduling emails and social media posts.

Big data:

Big data refers to high volumes and varieties or fast data that has been generated by a digital activity. With the right techniques, businesses can draw detailed and valuable insights from big data.


One of the most ambiguous forms of technology jargon, blockchain simply refers to a record of digital transactions that links individual records, the ‘blocks’ in a single list to form a ‘chain’. Deloitte cleverly defines blockchain in a quick 2-minute video, here.


Captcha is a security test used by businesses to detect whether a user is human or machine. It is designed to prevent bots or spammers by requiring the user to complete some kind of visual test.


A chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate a conversation with a human but only responds with pre-loaded information. Some businesses use it as a dynamic FAQ function on their website.

Cloud application: 

A cloud application or service is a piece of software that can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection via an app or internet browser. It can be directly contrasted to a local application that is restored on a local computer. Among other things, a cloud application enables colleagues and their clients to collaborate in real time.

Cloud computing: 

This is a general term used to describe storing and accessing resources and data via the internet. From emailing on-the-go, to working in a virtual office, cloud computing allows users to share online resources rather than relying on physical hard drives and devices.

Connected retail:

Connected retail is a way to reach customers seamlessly through a combination of physical and digital experiences. It’s a connected cloud-based ecosystem that leverages data and the Internet of Things. Walt Disney World recently created a leading example of connected retail – it used a smart wristband that allowed visitors to tailor their experience, including curated information and bespoke offers and deals.

Content Management System (CMS):

This is a software system that businesses use to create and manage their digital content, including pages and elements of a website or app. Some examples of popular content management systems include: WordPress, Wix, Drupal, WooCommerce, Shopify, Blogger and Joomla!.

Content marketing:

This is a way of marketing using high-quality, valuable and consistent content to attract, acquire, engage and influence a target audience to take a desired action. Business blogs, magazines or targeted email series are all examples of content marketing.

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO):

A systematic approach that businesses use to increase sales and leads on their website. CRO works by changing up images and words or using targeted call-to-actions and different forms of A/B testing.

Customer persona:

A persona is a fictional representation of a generalised type of customer based on demographics, buyer behaviours, motivations and goals. Customer personas help businesses to plan new products and develop successful marketing strategies.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM):

This is a type of software that businesses use to record, track and manage data associated with past, current and future customers like names, contact details and interaction information. Popular CRMs include Salesforce, HubSpot, Microsoft CRM and NetSuite.

Data breach:

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) defines a data breach as “when personal information held by an organisation is lost or subjected to unauthorised access or disclosure.” This kind of thing can happen if a company device is lost or stolen, a database is hacked, or someone in a business has inadvertently provided confidential information by mistake.

Data mining:

Data mining involves examining large databases with the aim of generating new information. Businesses can use this new information for actionable analytics and artificial intelligence.

Digital Direct Marketing (DDM):

This lengthy tech term refers to the act of communicating digitally with a list of people via email or text message.

Disruptive technology:

This term refers to any new technology that changes a traditional way of doing something. For example, Uber used disruptive technology to shake up the taxi industry.


Encryption turns plain text into ciphertext, so people and machines can’t easily read it. Only a secret password will enable someone to decrypt ciphertext.

Google Ads:

This is Google’s online advertising service. Businesses can set a budget and create relevant ads which are then shown to people who search specific keywords using Google.


Hyperautomation was arguably the big buzzword of 2020. It refers to the evolution of AI that commonly comes in the form of a bot that can conduct human tasks to make business more efficient.

Hypertext transfer protocol:

Technically, this is the name given to the set of standards that the Internet uses to understand how information is formatted and transmitted. You might recognise it more as http://.

Hypertext transfer protocol secure:

This is an encrypted and hence more secure version of http. This protocol is essential for online payment systems and other web pages that process private or sensitive information. (See also SSL Certificate).  

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS):

This is a form of cloud computing that allows someone to host their applications on a virtual server on shared infrastructure. It includes hardware and software such as servers, networks and operating systems.

Integrated marketing:

A strategy that aims to create a consistent experience of a brand (its ‘look and feel’) for consumers across all communication methods (channels), including advertising, PR and social media.

Internet of Things (IoT):

This strange tech term refers to physical objects that have been connected to machines, appliances or objects via the internet. They are usually embedded with things like sensors and technology that are designed to collect data. Examples of IoT include the ability to turn on your air conditioning remotely, a fridge that can order your milk when it runs out and most fitness trackers.

Machine learning:

Machine learning is an extension of artificial intelligence. It refers to the ability a machine has to learn from data without being programmed to.

Mobile first:

Today, software developers design with a more of a focus on mobile rather than desktop. Consumer behaviour and an increasingly mobile workforce have both influenced this shift. Mobile first design is centred around alternate ways of working and user habits.

Net neutrality:

The Oxford Dictionary defines net neutrality as “the principle that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.”


This is the act of customising information that a user sees. Using data sets, companies can personalise the user’s experience with their brand.

Platform as a service (PaaS):

This is a cloud-based platform that developers use to build applications and services over the internet.

Pay Per Click (PPC):

This is a common digital advertising model that charges an advertiser only when someone clicks on their ad. For example, search engine advertising is pay per click.

Quick Response code (QR code):

A barcode that can be read using a smartphone camera that takes a user to a specific URL.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO):

This tech term encompasses a collection of strategies and techniques that businesses use to increase the number of visitors to a website. SEO works by making a page more visible to search engines, so it gets a higher ranking on the relevant search results pages. Using specific keywords that customers commonly search for in your website copy, having links back to your web pages on other sites, and featuring engaging content and imagery are all examples of effective SEO.

Smart industry 4.0:

Probably the epitome of technology jargon - smart Industry 4.0 is a subset of the fourth industrial revolution and mostly concerns industry. For example, a factory or production business considered to be working in smart industry 4.0 will have machines and technology interconnected with wireless connectivity as part of a system that can visualise the entire production line and make decisions automatically.

Software as a service (SaaS):

This is cloud-hosted software that is delivered over the internet so users don’t have to purchase and install them locally on their computer.

Virtual private network (VPN):

A VPN is an encrypted internet connection that provides secure access to a private network. A VPN lets users access a business network while travelling or hide browsing activity on public Wi-Fi.

Virtual Private Server (VPS):

A VPS is installed on a physical computer, but also has shared hosting facilities. It can be less expensive than renting a dedicated server and can be easily scalable. This type of service may not suit businesses with high traffic or heavy demands.

Voice-User Interface (VUI):

VUI’s allow users to interact with a system, such as software or hardware, via voice commands. The use of VUI is projected to continue to rise through 2021 and beyond.

**Originally published October 13th 2016. Updated 5th October 2021.

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