Hello and welcome back to our series on the most important, common, and frequently-used abbreviations that business owners need to know in 2024. In our previous article on this topic, we covered 12 more acronyms that business owners absolutely must be familiar with in order to not only survive in 2024 but to thrive – and before that, we covered another 12 mission-critical IT questions. But as always, it wasn’t quite enough for us.

No, in our quest to help both IT professionals and IT amateurs (aka business owners with wayyyyyy too much stuff to do than learn the intricacies of IT), we have to go the extra mile. That’s why we’re back again with yet another dozen IT abbreviations for you to refer to any time you’re talking tech with your IT partners, internal and external.

As we’ve done in our past couple of articles on this topic, we’ll fill you in on the basics of these concepts, and give you a little information on why they’re beneficial to you, the one taking all the risk), so you can decide whether it’s important or not for your business. Here’s 12 more IT-related abbreviations that you absolutely should know as a business owner in 2024.

  • VPN (Virtual Private Network): VPNs or virtual private networks are a shield that protects businesses’ location data from bad actors. A VPN works by securing and encrypting data transmission, masking all information about your business whenever you or your employees connect to the internet. VPNs are crucial for business owners to ensure secure remote access, protect data in transit, and maintain privacy both locally and remotely. Check out our recent article on VPNs for a deeper dive into VPNs, as well as the best ones for business owners in 2024.
  • VPS (Virtual Private Server): Not at all related to a VPN, and far, far more complicated technically, a VPS is a virtual machine sold as a service by an internet hosting provider, like Google or AWS. We could explain VPSes until we’re blue in the face (we smell a future blog post…), but the basics are that a VPS allows you to create an extra layer of security for your business by essentially creating a private internet for your business’ traffic. The main benefits of a VPS to business owners are privacy and efficiency – you get to use the resources of giants like IBM and Amazon in a scalable, cost-effective format with dedicated resources and isolation from other users.
  • WAF (Web Application Firewall): We all know and love (hopefully) firewalls – these ancient pieces of internet tech protect our computers when we access the internet, creating a literal firewall where intruders are burned on contact. More recently, firewalls have been redefined as WAFs or web application firewalls. As everybody knows (and if you don’t you should), WAFs are an essential piece of cybersecurity for every single business on the planet. Firewalls are tool #1 to protect web applications from attacks, such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting.
  • WAN (Wide Area Network): A WAN is a telecom network that extends over a large geographical area – it’s how your business connects to the internet. The “network” bit of WAN refers to all of the elements that relate to you and the internet – modems, routers, cell towers, fiber, protocols (TCP/IP, packet switching), and so on. WANs are critically important, so much so that we don’t even think about them; without a WAN, business owners can’t connect multiple office locations, or share resources between business units and users. Heck, you can’t even access the internet without a WAN!
  • WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network): Break out the Xbox controllers and brush up on spawn locations because gamers of yore will definitely remember LAN – only now it’s wireless! Wireless local area networks or WLAN are localized wireless networks that allow your employees (and yourself) to wirelessly connect to a local internet. You may see WLAN usage for things like data storage (such as a NAS) or even just file sharing amongst team members. WLANs are vital for business owners to provide wireless network access to employees and guests, improving mobility and flexibility for everyone in the organization, as well as adding an additional layer of security.
  • XML (eXtensible Markup Language): XML is a coding language that’s used for encoding documents in a format that is readable by both humans and machines, and it’s used frequently for website development and marketing professionals who frequently collaborate on digital media with others. XML is important for business owners to facilitate data exchange between systems and applications. XML is used in roughly 33% of all web tech – which just goes to show how popular and important it is in the grand scheme of things.
  • VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol): Speaking of the mid-2000s, VoIP is a piece of technology that has been around for a while, but is only just becoming more complex and valuable in the modern era. VoIP is basically a replacement for phone calls – services like Google Voice allow voice communication and multimedia sessions over the Internet. VoIP is crucial for business owners to reduce communication costs, enhance flexibility, and integrate voice services with other applications.
  • UI (User Interface): UI is one of the most common abbreviations you’ll come across, especially if you have a customer-facing application. In many cases, you’ll hear UI referred to in web development, as it refers to the way or the space where interactions between humans and machines occur. Again, this is usually in terms of a website or an application. A well-designed UI is important for business owners to ensure a positive user experience, increase user engagement, and improve the effectiveness of digital tools. It’s useful to hire an expert on this, as it involves a lot of experience and expertise to effectively optimize any UI.
  • UX (User Experience): Hand-in-hand with UI is UX (hence why you often see UI/UX designers offering their services together), which is about how the user feels about the UI. UX is the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product. A good UX is absolutely critical because if you fail at UX, your product or service is doomed to fail as well. Without a good UI, it becomes difficult to gain and retain users, increase customer satisfaction, and ultimately drive sales and grow. This is what made Apple great, so follow their lead and make your product or service feel good to use!
  • EAI (Enterprise Application Integration): EAI is about making your company’s IT easy to use for employees. EAI accomplishes this by connecting all apps, databases, and other systems into an easy-to-understand framework that makes adaptation easy. Especially when a workflow is established at a company, it can be difficult to implement a new piece of software into a workflow, as people naturally resist change. EAI is a set of software and architectural principles that are designed to ease the integration of a set of enterprise computer applications. EAI is important for business owners to ensure seamless data flow, reduce operational costs, and improve business agility.
  • EDI (Electronic Data Interchange): EDI is pretty basic – it simply refers to the exchange of data between different companies using networks, such as the Internet. Ensuring effective and efficient data exchange is crucial for business owners to automate transactions, reduce errors, and improve efficiency in business-to-business and business-to-consumer interactions. Like many other things in IT, it’s often overlooked, but EDI is immensely valuable to any organization.
  • EPM (Enterprise Performance Management): An EPM is simply a system for managing and measuring a company’s financial health and business performance over time via offerings like Oracle EPM. EPM is part philosophy and part a set of tools to analyze performance and identify ways to improve efficiency. EPM is valuable to business owners as it simplifies the process of setting and tracking goals, making informed decisions, and driving growth over time by reducing costs and improving revenue.

That wraps it up for this week’s abbreviation breakdown! Check-in with us next time for another dozen or so IT acronyms that any business owner should know if they want to succeed in their IT initiatives.