Three men and a woman having a meeting.

Make sure you understand these business acronyms, because your tech team will be using them.

As technology advances, it’s tough for everyday users to keep up with the times, let alone understand every piece of tech jargon that gets flung their way. And for executives, knowledge gaps on these business acronyms can have serious consequences. Managers who simply nod and smile may find themselves backing projects they would have never otherwise approved, while those relying on the hard “no” may discover a sudden uptick in the spread of shadow IT.

The solution? Track down the tech terms you need to know this year before you make any big decisions. Oh, and you’re in luck: We’ve got you covered with this handy guide.

1. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

You’ve probably heard this term before, but if this is your first exposure to SaaS, consider yourself lucky that you didn’t embarrass yourself by asking about it during a tech briefing. Put simply, SaaS is taking over the world by offering software delivered via the cloud rather than requiring companies to download and install massive files on their hard drives. According to Cloud Tech, the SaaS market was worth $12 billion in 2016 and is on track to reach $50 billion by 2024. Bottom line? You’ll be investing big in SaaS, so it’s best to understand the basics.

2. Unified Communications as-a-Service (UCaaS)

As the cloud becomes the go-to technology foundation for many companies, you’ll have technology experts in your office waxing poetic about the benefits of Unified Communications as-a-Service. It sounds a little new-agey at first, but it’s really just the integration of all communication services — think Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), video, and over-the-internet meetings — all rolled into one and supported by a solid provider. Opting for a cloud-based unified communications solution lets you better manage costs and optimize networks to ensure quality of service (bonus acronym, QoS) is maintained even if employees are downloading big files or otherwise hogging network bandwidth.

3. Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

No, this does not stand for “most valuable player.” It’s actually a reference to the bare minimum needed to get a tech project off the ground and onto live servers. Recently, there has been a push to change the term and make it “most valuable product,” since doing the bare minimum in a mobile-driven world is a good way to grab terrible social reviews and find customers jumping ship for more innovative alternatives. The best advice for the IT business decision maker? Track down the real intention if your team starts throwing this one around. Make it clear that you know exactly what it means and that the bare minimum won’t cut it. It’s better to be an MVP with an MVP rather than an MVP, right? Right.

4. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Next on the list of business acronyms is AI. Nope, we’re not talking about the type of AI found in “I, Robot” or “Terminator.” While the concept of super-smart, human-like machines makes great movie fodder, real AI is a little bit more down to earth. More importantly, innovators aren’t actually trying to mimic human interactions — instead, they want to design tech that’s incredibly intelligent within the context of a specific job or role. In the workplace, AI usually refers to specific tools that streamline automation, so companies can focus on their IT ROI.

5. Internet of Things (IoT)

This one gets a ton of play in the news, but despite the hype, there’s huge potential here. Simply put, IoT relies on a collection of (typically) small, connected devices that store and share information. In turn, this gives companies access to a huge amount of potentially actionable data.

Examples here include smart thermostats that measure office temperature or vehicle sensors that help manage logistics. Next-generation uses include wearables to help monitor performance and the evolution of even smaller devices across more disparate networks to produce granular data from any possible source. Expect IT to talk about this business acronym regularly, so be ready to dig in and discover exactly what they’re proposing.

So, there you have it: five tech terms you’ll probably come across in the next few months and should know something about before IT pros start tossing them out like candy. Come back in six months, and we’ll have another set on deck to get you through the rest of 2017.

Contact Vonage Business for more information on useful tech that will promote engagement and collaboration.

About Doug Bonderud

Doug Bonderud is an award-winning freelance writer with a passion for technology and innovation. His ability to create compelling, thought-provoking and timely content helps empower the voice of corporate vision. From UCaaS to VoIP to cloud computing, Doug has experience covering all aspects of evolving digital environments and their effects on both people and policies.

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Typing on a laptop, next to a smartphone and business phone.

The office of the future will still need human brains, no matter how prevalent IT trends in artificial intelligence become.

It’s happened — robots are taking over the world. According to MIT Technology Review, recent studies of IT trends suggest that 45 percent of American occupations will be automated within the next 20 years. It’s no surprise, then, that many IT pros are caught in the throes of Isaac Asimov’s “Frankenstein Complex” — the belief that as robots become increasingly sophisticated, they will eventually make humans obsolete. Recent advancements in both automation and artificial intelligence (AI) seem to suggest this isn’t so far-fetched, so how do companies light a fire to foil the Frankenstein Complex?

Pink Slip Paranoia

A century ago, John Maynard Keynes described current IT trends in two words: Technological unemployment. In other words, it’s the replacement of multiskilled laborers with machines designed to perform a specific set of tasks. According to MarketWatch, the “de-skilling” of many professionals may lead to a world that sees workers simply trying to make a living rather than prosper as autonomous robots take on more and more corporate responsibility.

This is already happening in many factories, with semi-intelligent machines performing particularly dangerous, monotonous, or detail-oriented jobs. From a business perspective, there’s some solid logic here: workers enjoy reduced risk, tasks are completed with fewer errors, and total revenues go up. The next step? Kicking IT pros to the curb. As technological advancements produce “thinking” machines capable of referencing historical and current data to make quick decisions, the need for human expertise will dwindle. Already, IT pros are adapting to the presence of big data software systems, intelligent security monitoring tools, and devices capable of extremely accurate voice recognition and response.

Think about the role of a front-line IT admin. If robotics companies can produce a bot capable of monitoring network performance, predicting user issues, and resolving IT tickets autonomously — all without the need for a salary or benefits — what happens to the hardworking IT pro who earns a six-figure salary? Even if staff members stay on after the robot revolution, no one wants their boss to be a cold, unfeeling machine (any more than the existing human counterpart, at any rate). Plus, it’s not quite as much fun to spite the boss with the occasional under-the-breath expression of subordinate fury if all you’ll get back is a polite, robotic reply should the snark be overheard. Automated managers just aren’t any fun.

The New Market

Fortunately, the reality doesn’t favor Frankenstein. Here’s why:

  • Substitution vs. Complementation: As noted by The Wall Street Journal, one reason the rise of robot workers hasn’t killed the labor force — and never will — is the balance between substitution and complementation. Substitution occurs when a technological process completely eliminates the need for a human worker. Good examples here include attaching car doors, inputting rows of data, or monitoring network traffic. However, most jobs encompass more than a single function, and many require human oversight to make key decisions at critical points. In the majority of cases, technology complements the position rather than replaces it outright. Consider the rise of cloud infrastructure. While offsite hardware and support lessens the burden on IT pros, it doesn’t replace the need for human oversight when it comes to purchasing decisions, implementation timelines, or access requirements.
  • The Social Safety Net: It’s also worth noting that there are some positions robots are uniquely unsuited to fill, specifically those that revolve around sociability and creativity. While it’s possible to mimic the bare-bones processes of social interaction or creation, the randomness and subtlety required make machines a hard sell here. Meanwhile, for IT pros, this means tech skills alone may not be enough to guarantee future employment.
  • Mind the AI Gap: Hollywood informs the ideal of AI with machines that walk, talk, and think like human beings. In reality, this isn’t cost-effective. Instead, companies are investing time and money to develop project-specific AI that excels at certain tasks or when bounded by specific parameters. This type of broad-spectrum Lt. Cmdr. Data- or Terminator-type AI is often used as a scare tactic and is nothing more than sci-fi fantasy.

All Hail the Robot Executive?

Not quite yet. New IT trends mean that robots are great at menial, repetitive tasks and are starting to excel at more complex thinking challenges. However, a combination of complementation, a lack of programmable social skills, and the AI gap means IT pros aren’t in danger of pink slips anytime soon, and they’re better served making friends with rather than fighting with Frankenstein’s monster.

Want to know more about how to empower IT? Talk to a Vonage enterprise specialist today.

About Doug Bonderud

Doug Bonderud is an award-winning freelance writer with a passion for technology and innovation. His ability to create compelling, thought-provoking and timely content helps empower the voice of corporate vision. From UCaaS to VoIP to cloud computing, Doug has experience covering all aspects of evolving digital environments and their effects on both people and policies.

Linkedin  |  Twitter

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