Growth Customer Experience Productivity Business IQ Trends Success Stories Tech Solutions Awards Business Tools Subscribe Tech Enquiry
Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

Your go-to resource to decode tricky tech jargon.

With new technology comes new terminology. So many acronyms and jargon words are created on the internet all the time, which can be difficult to keep up with.  So to decode the terminology, we’ve created a glossary of terms.   From AdWords to VPS, from Machine Learning to Artificial Intelligence, our new technology glossary is here to help you better understand digital-business tech terms.


A collection of letters laid out like a word search.


Google’s online advertising service. Businesses can set a budget and create relevant ads which are then shown to people who search specific key words using Google. (See also: Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Advertising).

Application programming interface:

A set of programs and tools that dictate how one computer app talks to another. For example, embedded Google Maps on your website so customers know where your business is and how to get there.

Artificial intelligence: 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has in the last couple of years become a regular presence in our tech-led lives. Broadly, AI refers to intelligence displayed by machines. But, more specifically, it is the ability of a machine or software to learn and adapt from the data in its environment to achieve a specific goal. AI’s impact on business is substantial, including greater efficiency via
the automation of complex tasks. An extension of Artificial Intelligence is Machine Learning (read its definition further along in this glossary).    


Automated marketing: 

Software that automates marketing tasks, such as email sends and social media. (Also known as Marketing Automation or Trigger-Based Marketing)

Big data:

High volume, high velocity and high variety data generated by any and all digital activities.  With the right analytical techniques, detailed and valuable insights can be extracted: for example; consumer behaviours, demographic trends or performance metrics.


A temporary storage space that allows fast access to data. Internet browsers use a cache for frequently accessed webpages to reduce load times.


A test to determine whether the user is human or machine. Prevents bots or spammers by requiring the user to complete a visual test or enter a difficult-to-read piece of text or password.

Cloud application:

A software application accessed online via an app or browser, instead of installed on a local computer.

Cloud computing:

A general term for storing and accessing resources and data over the internet. From emailing on-the-go, to working in a virtual office, cloud computing allows users to share virtualised resources rather than relying on local hard drives, installed software and fixed devices. Cloud-based applications and services can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection. (See also: Software as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service)

Content Management System (CMS):

A software application used to create and manage digital content, such as the various pages and elements of a website or app. Popular content management systems include WordPress, Drupal and Joomla!.    


Content marketing:

A marketing technique of creating and distributing high-quality, valuable and consistent content to attract, acquire and engage the target audience with the goal of the customer taking a desired action. For example, a company blog or custom magazine.

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO):

A systematic approach to increasing sales and leads on a website, by changing images and words or using tools including call-to-actions and split testing (also known as A/B testing).

Customer persona:

A fictional representation of an ideal or typical customer based on demographics, buyer behaviours, motivations and goals; who they are, where they are, where and when they buy, why they buy and how they think. Customer personas help to plan products and marketing strategies.

Customer relationship management (CRM):

Software to record, track and manage current and future customers. It can store information such as names, contact details and records of phone calls. Popular CRMs include Salesforce, HubSpot 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.” Such an event can take place when a device containing data is lost or stolen, a database is hacked, or information is provided by mistake. A spate of data breaches in recent years have highlighted the issue and led to the drafting of new legislation with specific requirements for business.

Digital Direct marketing (DDM):

The electronic delivery of communications to specific recipients, usually via email or mobile phone messaging.

Disruptive technology:

New ways of doing things that shake up a traditional industry. For example, Uber is disrupting the taxi industry by exploiting smartphone technologies and behaviours.


Turning plain text into ciphertext, so it cannot be easily read. You need access to a secret password to decrypt it and make it understandable.

Hypertext transfer protocol:

A set of standards used by the World Wide Web that determines how information is formatted and transmitted. The majority of website URLs begin with http://.

Hypertext transfer protocol secure:

An encrypted website connection that is the secure version of HTTP. A secure website’s URL will begin with https://. This 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):

A form of cloud computing that lets a user 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 creates 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):

Everyday physical objects connected to other machines, appliances or objects via the internet, and embedded with sensors and technology used to collect data. Information is consumed by machines, rather than people, and communication happens between these machines to complete or automate certain tasks. For example, turning off heaters in your house remotely, fridges that can order the milk, smartwatches, and fitness trackers.    


Machine Learning:

Machine Learning is a kind of Artificial Intelligence. Software with Machine Learning have the ability to learn from data without being programmed to. In a business context, this enables effective and precise automated learning and decision-making in real-time.

Machine-to-machine (M2M):

Technology that allows devices to exchange information and perform actions without manual human assistance.


Becoming increasingly used in marketing, personalisation is the act of customising information presented to a user. Using collection and analysis of expansive data sets, companies can personalise the user’s experience of a product. Personalisation is used in Facebook’s friend recommendation, Google Ads, and across many online marketplaces in product recommendations.

PHP hypertext preprocessor (PHP):

A scripting language designed for web development. It can be used to create login pages, picture galleries and surveys.

Platform as a service (PaaS):

Cloud platform services that allow developers to build applications and services over the internet.


Pay per click. This is a common digital advertising model that charges the 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.


Search engine results page.

Search engine optimisation (SEO):

Strategies and techniques to increase the number of visitors to a website by making it more visible to search engines so it gets a higher ranking on the relevant search results pages. Techniques include 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.


Service migration:

Moving from one software service to another.

Software as a service (SaaS):

Cloud-hosted software delivered over the internet so they don’t have to be purchased and installed on the customer’s computer.

Virtual private network (VPN):

An encrypted connection over a public network (like the internet) that provides secure access to a private network. A VPN can let you access a business network while travelling or hide browsing activity on public Wi-Fi to avoid the risk of your web traffic and data being intercepted.

Virtual private server (VPS):

A virtual server that acts as a dedicated server, and is installed on a physical computer, but also has shared hosting facilities. A VPS can be less expensive than renting a dedicated server and can be easily scalable to grow with your business. But businesses with high traffic or heavy demands may prefer using a fully dedicated server.

Virtual reality:

A three-dimensional, computer-generated environment a person can interact with. Most are displayed on a computer screen or with a headset, creating an artificial world with images and sounds affected by the user’s actions.

*Originally published October 13th 2016. Updated March 15 2019    

For more inspiration, news and business tips.

Sign up to the Smarter newsletter here.

Find out moreFor more inspiration, news and business tips.

Woman stressed at desk
Tech Solutions
Tech Solutions
When your tech fails

Technology is so important to a modern small business that even the smallest IT glitch can have enormous consequences. But there are ways to minimise – and even avoid – the dam...

Customer Experience
Customer Experience
Four ways to prepare your business for e-commerce sales

Customers love finding bargains online – no surprises there. But in recent years, digital sales events such as Click Frenzy, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have had a real impac...

Avoid phishing threats
Tech Solutions
Tech Solutions
How to identify, avoid and recover from a phishing attack

Getting snagged by a phishing scam is never pleasant. It usually involves a cybercriminal using emails, texts, social media or phone calls to lure someone into handing over sen...

Diagram of Virtual Private Network
Business IQ
Business IQ
What is a VPN and do you need one?

If regular news of high-profile cyber-attacks across the world teaches us anything, it’s that every business, regardless of size, needs to take its security more seriously. T...