Does it feel as if IT and computer experts speak a different language to you? It’s not just you. IT specialists love their jargon, buzzwords and technology terms. So let’s demystify some of that technical jargon for you.
XaaS is a term that you may come across in cloud computing and the use of virtual servers. It’s relevant to the option that businesses now have, which is to replace physical servers with virtual ones, typically for a monthly payment. The provider generally takes responsibility for things like maintenance and security, while users have some restricted options about the way they set it up for their needs. The advantage of Xaas is that it’s flexible, scalable and upgrading is easy to do.
Data is a valuable business asset, because analysing it can provide useful information for businesses to measure their performance, assess their strengths and weaknesses and improve their operations. However, not all the data that can be gathered digitally is useful for analysis. The portion of data that can be used is known as actionable analytics.
Forget what you’ve seen in the movies. Artificial intelligence is more mundane and less sinister than its portrayal in movies like ‘The Matrix’ and ‘Terminator’. It refers to powerful computers that can collate a lot of information from different places and then make inferences based on that data. These high-end computers can recognize speech, learn, plan and solve problems.
Linked to AI, machine learning is about what it says – a computer’s ability to draw conclusions from its analysis of the data it receives, and to use algorithms to make predictions based on that data. For example, it might concern more accurate estimates of what customers want to buy, with clear implications for use in boosting sales.
Originally developed for use with cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin transactions, this is quite complicated when you dig down, but the basic idea is simple enough. It’s a technology that stores data in such a way that it cannot be altered without consequences. Specifically, it records transactions in such a way that no record can be changed without all subsequent records changing too. This makes it a cost-effective way of verifying transactions, but it has potential for safeguarding other electronic data too, such as legal agreements or medical records.
Chatbots are computer programs that convert conversations (spoken or written) in real time. This is the technology that makes virtual assistants like Amazon’s ‘Alexa’ possible. It can also be used to allow speakers of different languages to converse. As progress is made in machine learning and databases become more comprehensive, chatbot performance keeps on improving.
Data is a useful resource, especially for businesses, and just about everything we do in our daily lives can be recorded as data that can be digitized, analyzed and used. One example is the way in which some businesses have abandoned conventional personality tests. Instead, they may now look at data on a potential employee’s social media activity to understand their personality – and the results seem to be more accurate this way.
If ‘cryptocurrency’ conjures up images of shady dealing on the dark web you’re not entirely wrong. But ‘crypto’ really just refers to the encryption of transactions, especially those that take place outside of the conventional banking system. Bitcoin is probably the best known example. Cryptocurrencies are usually virtual, without existing in physical form, as real coins or dollar bills.
In the past few decades video games have become part of everyday life for a new generation. They’re not only fun; they can be an educational tool too, and games have become a tool for improving productivity and motivation. In typical video games, players strive to get to the next level, learn new skills and get points or rewards for completing key tasks. All these can be incorporated into games that are geared towards business or professional training and career advancement.
Microservices are a recent development in software architecture. Conventionally, computer programs are created as a collection of services, all with one set of source code. The new trend is that these services are separated out and offered individually. It’s a move towards modular architecture in software design, with the advantage that individual elements can be easily replaced or updated.
Open-source software is software in which the rights to the source code allow anyone to use, change and redistribute that software as they wish. Open-source software is important for programmers and computer specialists, especially when they’re customising software to fit an organization’s specific needs and requirements.
You might never find yourself in animated conversations about these things, or reeling off the technical jargon, but knowing a little bit about the basics is always a good thing. Are there any technology terms that you’d like demystified? Tell us in the comments below or ask one of the Quikteks team directly at (973) 882-4644.