10 IT terms communicators should know

Even savvy communicators can get confused by the lingo of their co-workers in technology support departments. This guide can help.

Understanding the language of our co-workers in the IT department is half the battle for PR and marketing pros.

I’ve been in enough meetings with marketing, PR and IT professionals to see the pattern. Those on the marketing or PR side make a request. Those on the IT side respond using terms no one else understands. When asked for clarification, the IT folks continue to use unfamiliar terms. It’s frustrating for everyone.

To help ease the aggravation, below are frequently used IT terms, along with their definitions (courtesy of Gartner IT glossary).

1. Agile: A method for software development that focuses on keeping code simple, testing code often and delivering the working parts of the software once they are ready.

To improve your employees’ user experience, we are using agile methods to develop your new templates.

2. Bring your own device (BYOD): An directive for employee-owned devices—smartphones, tablets, laptops, and USB drives—to be used within a company.

We have many young, tech-savvy employees, so we instituted a BYOD policy, much to the chagrin of our IT staff.

3. Build: A pre-release version of a program that is identified by a build number, rather than a release number.

Repeated builds are part of the software development process.

Your changes to the front page will be part of next month’s build.

4. Client: A requesting program or user.

For example, the user of a web browser is making client requests for pages from online servers. The browser itself is a client in its relationship with the computer that is receiving and returning the requested HTML file.

To enhance the search process, that form will have to be served on the client side.

5. Content management system (CMS): Software that enables users to create and manage website content.

We use WordPress as our content management system.

6. Open source: A program whose source code is available for users or developers to use or modify.

Open source software is usually developed collaboratively and is freely available.

For optimum flexibility, IT staffers prefer that we use an open source content management system.

7. Scrum: A development model based on multiple small teams working together intensively.

The office was practically empty, because most everyone was in the scrum meeting.

8. Secure socket layer (SSL): A networking protocol that manages server authentication, client authentication and encrypted communication between servers and clients.

9. Sprint: The set time in which specific work must be completed and made ready for review.

Testing for the members-only site will have to be completed during the October sprint.

With all of our sensitive data, we must make sure the SSL is functioning before we release the site.

10. Virtual private network (VPN): The technology that creates an encrypted connection over a less secure network.

VPN ensures the desired level of security to the connected systems when the underlying network infrastructure alone cannot provide it.

We’re not fully confident about our partner’s security protocols, so you will have to connect via VPN to see the test site.

What terms would you add to the list, Ragan readers?

Laura Hale Brockway is a writer and editor and a regular contributor to Ragan.com and PR Daily. Read more of her work at impertinentremarks.com.

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