8 Techy Words You’ve Been Using All Wrong — And What They Actually Mean

By Dev Emote Dev Emote has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
on 24 November 2021

Unless you’re an IT professional, a data analytics expert or someone who’s technologically advanced, it may be challenging to know all the latest buzzwords within your industry. Mispronouncing or not knowing certain words can sometimes lead to embarrassment in the workplace.

However, the words you use to communicate with your colleagues or in any professional setting are important. Most business professionals appreciate when their co-workers are clear and concise. Using words correctly helps build rapport with others and earns their respect.

Misusing words can tarnish your reputation in the workplace, especially if you deal with clients daily. Here are some common tech jargon people tend to use incorrectly:

1. Open Source Software

It’s a common misconception that open source software inherently means it’s unsecured. In reality, it can be redistributed and modified based on the user’s needs. Being open-sourced does not mean the particular software has more or fewer vulnerabilities over its counterpart, closed source software.

It’s critical if you’re in the tech industry to know the difference between the two. If things ever go wrong, you can provide better details to your IT department or anyone who resolves computer or network issues.

2. E-signature vs. Digital Signature

While the two phrases are very similar, e-signatures and digital signatures are two distinct concepts. It’s important to remember the two are not synonymous and shouldn’t be confused.

It’s simple to understand the difference between the two by remembering that all digital signatures are considered e-signatures, but not all electronic ones are digital.

In addition, digital signatures are typically more secure than electronic versions — they’re used to attach a signature to any online document. In contrast, digital signatures require certificate-based authentication to ensure the person signing is who they say they are.

Knowing the difference between the two can help you communicate with your HR department and other colleagues or clients.

3. Spam

Spam is a bit of a general word with multiple meanings and describes several scenarios. It could come in the form of an email, instant message or snail mail.

Some professionals will use spam to describe viruses or other types of malware on their computers but these are more serious issues than a simple spam email in your junk folder. It’s better to be specific when referring to spam, viruses or other forms of cyber threats.

You should avoid clicking on any spam links to protect yourself from threatening viruses or malware, which could result in compromised data or trouble accessing your network.

Apple Podcasts
Apple Podcasts
4. Apps

Professionals use many different applications to make their work lives that much easier — on their smartphones, desktops and even in their cars.

It’s important to know what an app is, especially if you’re in the tech industry, which relies heavily on applications to accomplish tasks or reach new customers. Some apps, such as Dropbox, run partly as a local app and partly online, making it confusing.

Additionally, when you fire up your laptop, the icons on the screen are mostly links to websites. Knowing what parts of the devices you use are apps versus links helps you understand your devices much better.


5. Cloud

For some, the idea of the cloud is perplexing and mysterious. Understanding the ins and outs of the cloud, how it works and how it’s so easy to access documents and other files through it, is confusing without any background knowledge.

It’s common for people to refer to the cloud but mean something different. You could be referring to the cloud, but it just means storage within your computer. Be sure to understand when and why to use the cloud in reference to something that’s actually in the cloud so you don’t confuse your co-workers.

6. Digital Transformation

It’s become a trend for companies to adopt new digital technologies to improve their operations, cut costs and accomplish more tasks.

This is the essence of digital transformation, but some will confuse it with a digital transition or one new piece of technology.

A digital transformation is a seismic shift in a business model and impacts all company operations. It isn’t getting a new set of computers or laptops. It would be something more along the lines of implementing artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML). Be sure not to use the phrase digital transformation unless your business is truly making one.

7. Silos

Silo is a commonly used business intelligence term which describes when an organisation’s departments do not wish to share information. Essentially, departments work in ‘silos’ or isolation from their counterparts.

There’s some debate over whether silos are a positive or negative part of business operations. Some love them, and others hate them. However, knowing what silos are can help you refer to them correctly when the time is right and avoid misunderstandings when using them in the wrong context.

8. As a Service (aaS)

There are many types of ‘as a service’ products out on the market which can make the term confusing for you and your customers. For example, there’s software as a service (SaaS), big data as a service (BDaaS) and even anything as a service (XaaS).

Knowing how and when to use the phrase will come in handy in any industry – and the tech sector is no exception. If anything, the tech industry offers many products aaS.

Using These Words in the Right Context

These eight phrases may be confusing to some and are commonly misunderstood and misused in the business world. However, knowing their definitions and using them to communicate with others will be helpful throughout your career.

For more from Women Love Tech on the inside story on IT, visit here.

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