Ten tech terms you should get to know

09 Paul Hobden business online Ten tech terms you should get to know

Paul Hobden

It almost always seems like those in the online world speak a completely different language to the rest of us. This often requires interpretation in order to fully understand, and to more importantly realise the impact the online world can have on one’s business.

The list of terms is long and ever growing, but as a start here are a few every business owner should know


Simply put, “the cloud” is the network of computers on the internet that can be used together to provide a service to the end-user. So, rather than housing an application or storing data locally, it is stored in the cloud on computers and servers that exist across the internet.


Software as a Service (SaaS) is a concept where software is provided to the end-user as a service, rather than as a piece of software that is downloaded or provided on a disc. The provider takes care of things like the hosting of the application, storage, backups and upgrades. The service can be paid for monthly or even on a pay-per-usage basis
removing the once-off payment.


Voice over IP, or VoIP, is a technology that allows users to make phone calls via their internet connection rather than via traditional landlines. This is often much more cost effective than traditional phone calls and “on net” calls – calls to other users on the same network – are mostly free. VoIP solutions can be integrated with a PABX or even a cloud-based PABX system.


Crowdsourcing means getting the resources required for a project or piece of work from a wide variety of people using the internet. As an example, Wikipedia crowdsources its information in order to create the entries on its website and maintain it.


Creative Commons is a form of copyright that allows the usage of work without a fee, provided it is not for commercial again.


Open source is a software development methodology which allows everyone to have access to the source code without payment. The idea behind open source is that the community of software developers add to and improve the code base so that all parties benefit.


Google is the starting point for most searches on the internet. Search engine marketing involves using Google to increase the amount of traffic to a website. There are two main arms of Search engine marketing – Search engine optimisation, which affects how well your site ranks on Google’s search results, and Paid search which involves buying traffic from Google by bidding for keywords and paying every time someone clicks on your advert.


As mobile devices have become more popular for web browsing, developers have had to consider how websites appear on a smartphone. Responsive design is a method that allows a single site to appear perfectly regardless of the type of device – be it a cellphone, tablet or laptop. The layout responds to the device and adjusts accordingly.


A payment gateway is an internet service that allows credit card transactions to be processed. Sites that have an online store and allow users to pay for an item online, need a means to process the credit card transaction. Payment gateways facilitate this transaction between the merchant, their bank and a user’s bank. PayU is an example of a South African based payment gateway that allows online retailers to process credit cards.


The term “trending” refers to an item on the internet that is currently being mentioned on social networks most frequently. This is aided by hashtags (on Twitter) which help identify a conversation.

Celebrities and breaking news items are examples of most likely trending topics.

  • Paul Hobden is head of small business at MWEB.

, Mweb, Paul Hobden

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