A Primer to Corporate-Speak: Corporate Terms and Buzzwords to Know
Every subculture has its own terms and manner of speaking, and the corporate world is no exception. If you’re about to enter it for the first time, you’ll want to know a few of these terms. In no particular order:
Actionable: Basically a synonym for “useful.” You need actionable data before you can make a decision.
Actionable insights: Useful facts.
Leverage: This common word has a unique meaning in corporate contexts. Roughly, it means “to use” or “to take advantage of” (not in a negative way). So, you’ll leverage your actionable insights.
Action item: A task you have to do. You can leverage your actionable insights to accomplish your action items.
Webinar: A class, presentation or seminar conducted online and attended via computer or smartphone. Some webinars are basically less intense, more informative versions of sales pitches. Others are conducted internally within a company to bring employees up to speed on, like, new HR policies, or why it’s a bad idea to have food fights in the break room. Still others are basically just classes.
Scale/Scalable/Scalability: Make something bigger/able to be made bigger/the quality of being able to be made bigger. You may hear people debating whether a method of doing business is or is not scalable. “Selling a sandwich the size of Manhattan is great once,” you might hear in a webinar, “but it’s not a scalable business model.”
ROI: Return On Investment — or, how much money you get back after spending money on something. Businesses always want their ROI to be bigger. Ask the question “How can we scale our ROI?” and you’ll sound like a genius.*
*You won’t. Unless you know what you’re talking about.
WFH/OOO: Work From Home and Out Of Office. Depending on your industry, you might see these acronyms in the subject lines of quite a few emails.
SEO: Search Engine Optimization. Computer science and computer engineering majors will probably be familiar with this term already. This refers to setting up a webpage so that it shows up as high as possible in search engine results. In the old days this meant stuffing as many keywords as possible into your text; now Google penalizes you for that and banishes you to page 203 of the search results if you try.
B2B/B2C: By now you may have figured out that the business world is full of obscure-sounding acronyms that are actually very simple in meaning. These are no exception. “B2B” means “business-to-business” and “B2C” means “business-to-consumer.” These terms are used to describe who your customers are. Are you selling your services to other businesses? Then your business is B2B. See the sketchy guy on the corner selling fake Ray-Bans to passersby? His business is B2C.
Disrupting the industry: Having success in a previously established industry in a unique way. In the old days this was just called “being successful” or “the goal of literally every business ever.”
Paradigm shift: A change in what’s considered the norm. In the past, you didn’t know what “paradigm shift” meant, but now there’s been a paradigm shift.
Synergy: One of the most infamous corporate buzzwords of all time, “synergy” means a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. When applied to people, it just means “teamwork.”
In beta: The first version of a new piece of software that’s released to a few select users is said to be “in beta.” Substitute “usable, but still kind of terrible” for “in beta” and you’ll get the idea.
SaaS: Super-fancy-looking acronym that means “Software as a Service.” Instead of buying the software once, installing it, and using it forever, you pay for it at regular intervals, like a subscription, and the software is updated regularly by the provider (in theory).
Viral: Anything that gets shared a lot on social media is said to have “gone viral.” But you probably already knew that. If you ever have to work with marketers, you’ll quickly learn that they’re trying to make everything go viral, all the time. Even this blog post.
Workflow: The order in which people work on a project. Like a stream flows down a mountainside, a project flows from person to person. (The corporate world can be a poetic place, too.)
FUN GAME: How many of these words can you use in one sentence? Can you leverage these actionable insights for greater ROI in your disruption of the sentence-construction industry? (Sorry, that sentence is still in beta.)