A glossary of some of the most common or important technology terms you might run into on the job.
copyright by associationsnow.com
Tech terms—from cloud computing to business intelligence—are ever present in association life. They come up during meetings, in emails, and in conversations with members and vendors. That’s why it’s important for all staff, not just an association’s IT team, to have a basic understanding of common tech-related words.
“When definitions are clear, you are more efficient with your time,” says Achurch Consulting CEO Rebecca Achurch, CAE. “There are less reworks. It reduces miscommunications.”
Even when two people think they’re on the same page, they may not be. Some tech terms overlap or require more clarity. For instance, “I think there are frequently misunderstandings about what ‘cloud’ is,” Achurch says. “It’s such a broad spectrum and a lot of detail about understanding what it means. It could be an offsite storage facility, or it could be a cloud-based app system.”
Association staff with purchasing power for systems that will assist their job function need to take special care that they know the related tech terms, according to Achurch. You need “enough knowledge to make sure that your vendors are really meeting your requirements and your needs as an organization, and not just proposing the same canned solution for every association,” she says. “It matters what skills your team has; it matters the strategic direction you’re going.”
And if a staff member is having a discussion with a potential vendor or partner and unfamiliar tech terms come up, Achurch says it’s important to ask questions. “I would suggest some tactics I’ve used: Can you help me understand what you mean by X? Can you give me an example? Can you describe it in a different way?” she says. “Partners and good technologists should be able to speak in simple, plain English without the tech terms.”
While everyone should have some basic knowledge, tech staff at associations can help, especially if they are doing a system overhaul or implementing a new system.
“If we’ve decided we are going to do a big data analytics project, then there needs to be an effort by the organization to make sure the language is now part of the organization,” she says. “It’s great to do brown bags or small informational learning sessions that your tech team can lead.”
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