Business jargon we can’t live without in 2015

used with permission from Microsoft at Work

Businesses create words and phrases all the time to communicate new ideas, trends, and technology. To kick your 2015 off right, we’ve compiled a handy (and slightly tongue-in-cheek) terminology guide that defines commonly used terms that can be confusing or off-putting to casual readers or the uninitiated.

Best practices: Procedures that have proved to be very effective and produce superior results than other methods trying to do the same thing. Can be overused.

Big data:& A term used to describe any collection of data so large, intricate, and interconnected that it’s impossible for humans to make sense of it unaided. Big data is often so large that it requires specialized data processing applications and people trained to operate and manage them. When used competently, big data can reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions. You will hear this term more often in the future because companies and agencies are collecting more and more data on us all the time, and they’ll want to dive into that data to learn anything they can about their audience.

Business Intelligence or BI: A collection of practices and tools used to pull useful information out of data (maybe even big data!) to help define and inform a business’s strategic direction. Raw data is useless, so BI is used to pull out relevant information to provide insights into a business—which will hopefully provide a competitive advantage.

Content: A very broad, generic term for the subject, topic, or other information presented in some sort of media. Be warned, “content” is an insultingly generic term that can offend sensitive creative types because it reduces their “art” to just another piece of whatever you’re building. [Editor’s Note: Geeze, I never realized my creative team was so sensitive]

Empower: To provide power or authority for some purpose. We often talk about empowering employees or a department. In management, empowering someone is akin to delegating responsibility (but not abdicating it), so the person or people you manage can make decisions without you being directly involved. This term is also used in relation to technology. Empowering your employees with the newest technology means you’re giving them a greater ability to get things done with improved technology, devices, or applications previously unavailable to them.

Engagement: To engross, interest, or involve people (or companies) in some way. Marketers often refer to a marketing campaign or some aspect of it (like sharing on Facebook or party) as an “engagement.” By which they mean they’re reaching out and trying to get people to somehow interact with an offer. It doesn’t mean that the people on the other end respond to the offer.

Internet of Things or IoT: When previously unconnected devices like thermostats, refrigerators, or dog collars use an Internet connection to share data. Useful as a way to automatically collect data from things that previously required intensive manual recording, such as building temperatures and what our pets do while we’re gone all day.

Key learnings or learnings: This term refers to “what we can or have learned from some activity.” If you hear “key learnings,” then someone is trying to point out that some of the learnings are particularly important.

Thought leaders: People who are well informed in a given field of study and whose opinions are trusted or who inspire others to work or think about their field in different, innovative ways. Thought leadership is a related term, but is about the act of being (or trying to be) a thought leader.

Viral: A biological term that is widely used to describe an image or video that spreads quickly online. Some people believe you can make a “viral video”; unfortunately, there’s no way to guarantee that something goes viral. All you can do is develop the best, most clever content possible and hope it captures the zeitgeist so viewers make it go viral.

Hopefully now when a thought leader passes on her key learnings and best practices, you can use that information to generate some effective business intelligence collected by the Internet of Things into big data and then create content that immediately goes viral when the engagement goes live!


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