AAx Business Glossary

A Reference of Terms used in Business Computing & Communications



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General Business Terminology

B2B - Business to Business - marketing, advertising, communications, sales and other activites perpetrated between businesses.
B2C - Business to Consumer - marketing, advertising, communications, sales and other activities inflicted by a business on consumers.

PC - Politically Correct - as in recommending a Windows NT server to management at a Fortune 500 company who's CEO has just returned from an all expense paid trip to Microsoft's Redmond campus, or recommending a Linux server to management at a small ISP. The opinion or action that will upset "the powers that be" least.

PHB - Pointy Haired Boss - The utterly clueless boss who presides over Dilbert and his coworkers in the cartoon strip of that name. Any boss who's only significant skill is in climbing the corporate management ladder. The PHB is too incompetent to realize he is incompetent - in short, he represents nearly all mid and high level mananagement in corporate America. Note that being too incompetent to realize one is incompetent is not limited to PHBs, but can also be found in technical circles - or in any other field of endeavor.

Proprietary - Property of a particular company which has effective control. Said of software, protocols, hardware, etc..

Open - Said of "standards" that are published and available to everyone (sometimes for a fee). Ideally said of publicly controlled standards but much abused by marketing departments who refer to proprietary protocols as "open" if at least a small part of the specification is available to public view. The term "Open Systems" generally refers to Unix and the communications protocols surrounding it.

POS - Point Of Sale - Refers to computer equipment and software specialized for retail point of sale, particularly cash drawers, pole displays, receipt printers, bar-code scanners and software that supports them.

CRM - Customer Relationsip Management - Major business buzzword for year 2000 - see our article CRM.

ERP - Enterprise Resource Planning - Major business buzzword of the 1990s, displaced by new buzzword CRM - see our article ERP.

MRP - Material Requirement Planning - Major business buzzword of the 1980s, displaced by new buzzword ERP - see our article MRP

Standard Bodies & Standards

Standard - A specification or protocol that has been issued and sanctioned by a recognized "Standards Body", for example, ISO, ASTM, TIA, etc. De-facto standards are proprietary or non-sanctioned "standards" that are in common use. For instance, Microsoft Word document format is a de-facto standard for buisness document tranfers. Standards Body - An organization in the business of creating, reviewing, issuing and sanctioning "standards" (documents that define a specification or protocol so it may be widely used). Here are some recognized standards bodies (please note that Microsoft is not one of them).
  • ANSI - American National Standards Institute
    • X.12 - Standard for EDI data formats - actually produced by DISA.
    • Z39.50 - Information search and retrieval standard used by WAIS.
  • ASTM - American Society for Testing Materials - Concerned mostly with standards for boiler plate, steam fittings, bolts, etc.
  • CCITT - International Cunsultative Committee for Telegraphy and Telephony (Geneva). Guilty of all those X. and V. standards.
  • DISA - Data Interchange Standards Association - in the U.S., the standards body that defines EDI standards. In Europe it is UN/EDIFACT.
  • ECMA - European Computer Manufacturer's Association.
  • FSAN - Full Service Access Network - group charged with finding the cheapest way to get high speed networking deployed to the most users. FSAN's main work is PON (Passive Optical Netwrok).
  • IEEE - Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers
    • IEEE 802.1X - Policy Based Network Management user authentication.
    • IEEE 1394 - Fire Wire - PC peripheral bus, 100-mbps, 400-mbps.
  • IETF - Internet Engineering Task Force - standards body for Internet protocols - issues RFCs (Request For Comment) which become Internet standards.
    • RFC821 - Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) standard
    • RFC822 - Standard for the Format of ARPA-Internet Text Messages, including the Internet domain naming scheme.
  • ISO - International Standards Orgainzation
    • ISO3166 - Country codes for Internet top level domains.
    • ISO 9000 - A worldwide standard for QA (Quality Assurance) procedures, similar to the U.S. Department of Defense's "corrective action" program of many years ago. It does not regulate or assure product quality, it just assures that quality assurance and reporting procedures are formalized, in place, and meet ISO 9000 standards. A company can still produce trash, as long as procedures are followed.
  • ITU - International Telegraph Union
  • Microsoft - NOT A STANDARDS BODY however much they think they are. Microsoft is most noted for its attempts to corrupt public standards (embrace, extend, exterminate) to make them useful only for Windows users. All items listed here are DEFACTO Standards that relate to "Windows Only" environments and none other.
    • OLE, ActiveX, COM, DCOM - A single user desktop software integration product invented by Wang Laboratories. IBM obtained the technology along with other Wang assets and licensed it to Microsoft. Microsoft has renamed it and pasted on extensions with each computing fad. Any software developer who adopts any incarnation of OLE condemns himself forever to "All Microsoft".
      • OLE - Object Linking and Embedding
      • ActiveX - They needed an "Internet" technology, so they renamed OLE.
      • COM - Common Object Model - they needed to put OLE on networks.
      • DCOM - Distributed COM - they needed OLE to be for "thin client" computing.
  • UN/CEFACT - In Europe, the standards body that defines EDI standards (UN/EDIFACT). In the U.S, that is done by www.unece.org/cefact.
  • XAPIA - X.400 API Association

Trade Associations

Trade Associations are organizations devoted to promoting some particular commercial angle of computing (or to eliminating competition).
  • CIX - Commercial Internet eXchange - Commercial internet service providers.
  • RARE - Reseaux Associes pour la Recherche Europeene.
  • RIPE - Reseaux IP Europeene - an organization coordinating IP routing in Europe.

EDI - Electronic Data Interchange

Electronic Data Interchange was conceived as a way to electronically imitate paper documents, generate them automatically, transfer them by wire and automatic entry them into the business management systems of the receiving party. For reasons of security and cost of implementation, this has rarely been fully accomplished.

Most EDI transactions go through a VAN (Value Added Network) service, which provides the proprietary networks required and translates documents between different companies' formats. When the company at one end is relatively small, generation of outgoing documents into the VAN's system and entry of incomming documents into its own system is generally by hand.

The standard for EDI documents is X12, which standard large corporations feel free to modify as much and as often as they wish.

EDI is currently undergoing a transition from VANs to the Internet, and from the current difficult to interpret list of fields to the use of XML where the definitions can be part of the document.

BizTalk - a scheme for using XML for Business to Business transactions spearheaded by Microsoft. Other participants are DISA, SAP, PeopleSoft, Baan, Boeing and UPS (United Parcel Service). For more info www.biztalk.org

UN/EDIFACT - European standards for EDI, set by UN/CEFACT.

RosettaNet - an organization developing a standard dictionary of definitions for product and transaction properties using XML for EDI. RosettaNet concentrates on the Electronics and Information Technology fields. For more information www.rosettanet.org.

CommerceNet, OBI - Open Buying on the Internet - an organization working on using XML for high-volume low-dollar Business to Business EDI transactions More information at OASIS - Organization for the Advancement of Strutured Information Standards - another standards group defining the use of XML for EDI. Check them out at www.oasis-open.org

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©:Andrew Grygus - Automation Access
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