Get your head out of the cloud with essential ICT lingo for business owners
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) includes any product or service that stores, retrieves, manipulates, transmits or receives data. The term Information Technology (IT) first appeared in 1958 and the rate of technology advancements has since triggered a flood of complicated tech terms and acronyms, from ADSL, VoIP, PBX, and SIP, to the more recent -aaS family of acronyms associated with cloud computing. To create a streamlined information flow for enhanced productivity and decision-making, businesses need to integrate real-time and non-real-time communication services, from email, voicemail, SMS and fax, to instant messaging, video conferencing and data sharing via interactive whiteboards. This integration makes business data easy to share, access, modify, analyse and store. Knowing a few essential ICT terms and acronyms will help your team ask the right questions when deciding on integrated solutions best suited to your business needs.
- Domain Name Server (DNS): Servers that translate domain names, such as nashua.co.za, into unique Internet Protocol or IP addresses that can be understood by computers. By upgrading your website to Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) – a process that ensures a secured channel between websites and computers – you can provide additional security for visitors to your website.
- Local Area Network (LAN): All devices in your office that are connected to each other such as computers, servers, routers and printers. Nashua’s free office assessment of your equipment, software and processes is a great starting point to improve your operational efficiency and minimise wastage and costs.
- Bandwidth: The maximum amount of data that can be transferred across a given digital communication path in a fixed amount of time. Before deciding on an Internet Service Provider (ISP), consider the following: o Cap: Limitations on the amount of data your business can download or upload via the connection o Shaping: Limitations on bandwidth to manage the amount your business can use o Throttling: The slowing of Internet services to regulate network traffic and minimise bandwidth congestion
- Long-Term Evolution (LTE): LTE is a 4G mobile communications standard with improved wireless broadband capacity and speeds to meet user demands. It is an ideal option if your business uses a fair amount of data each month or if employees rely heavily on smartphones or tablets to browse the Internet.
- Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): The transmission of telephone calls over the Internet in the form of voice data. VoIP is significantly cheaper and enables businesses to connect with employees and customers across the world without international charges. A range of business VoIP solutions is available for businesses of all sizes looking to reduce costs.
- Session Initiation Protocol (SIP): A communication protocol that controls the transmission and communication of real-time multimedia communication such as voice, messaging and video between two or more endpoints on IP networks. Nashua Voice SIP is a simple, pre-paid and cost-effective way of routing calls via the Internet to the network. Pre-paid limits are monitored and notifications are sent to customers at intervals to advise them of their account balance.
- Wireless Internet: A high speed Internet connectivity that uses microwave signals capable of supporting Internet speeds of 1.5Mbps to 1Gbps and above. Wireless Internet solutions provide fast and reliable connections for businesses of all sizes.
- Fibre Internet: A high speed and high capacity Internet connectivity that transmits data in the form of light packets through thin fibre optic glass cables at speeds of 1 Gbps or higher. Fibre Internet is considered the fastest among the various connection types but is dependent on availability in your area.
- Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL): The most common type of Internet connectivity that enables faster data transmission over copper telephone lines. ADSL is a cost-effective, high performance data solution ideal for small and medium enterprises. Look for unshaped and uncapped ADSL connectivity to ensure equal priority is given for email, web browsing, Internet banking, downloading and media streaming.
- Hosted Private Branch Exchange (PBX): A cloud-hosted telephone exchange system that enables intercommunication between all telephone stations through a central office line. PBX is accessed entirely via the Internet and eliminates the need for expensive equipment. Nashua Virtual PBX (VBX) offers a high-quality communication service with advanced PBX features.
- Virtual Private Network (VPN): A VPN allows employees to connect to a business’ private network from anywhere for added security. Instead of using a public network at, for example, a local coffee shop, employees can connect to your private network with the same security as available when in the office.
- Cloud computing: The use of a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage and process data, as well as to access the latest software and business-related services on the go. It also enables simultaneous file access between multiple remote users and offers an extra layer of security. Cloud services require a fast and reliable Internet connection but can give small businesses a competitive advantage with access to leading software and business services.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): Subscription-based business software available on demand. Examples include customer relationship management, business management, resource planning, invoicing, human resource management, talent acquisition and social media marketing software packages.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): A cloud-based business infrastructure, including servers and data storage. This infrastructure is hosted in data centres and enables businesses to reduce IT costs.