The big workplace trend of turning manual processes digital and using artificial intelligence – the consultancy PwC neatly calls it human-led, tech-powered – is throwing up far too much jargon that is incomprehensible to most people. Forbes magazine predicts this digital transformation will be one of the biggest business trends of 2023, so we’d all better start getting used to it. Like all jargon though, you should avoid it in media interviews. So this is our cut-out-‘n’-keep guide to some of the phrases you might start to hear more of – and some suggested alternatives on how to avoid befuddling non-experts:
AUGMENTED WORKING – as in ‘we’re moving to an augmented working environment.’ This refers to the trend for people to work alongside intelligent virtual assistants or automated processes to increase productivity. It usually involves machine learning, where computer programs access data and learn for themselves.
EXAMPLE: In many businesses, AI is being used to for marketing automation, support and service, such as with the increasing use of chatbots.
IN OTHER WORDS/YOU COULD JUST SAY: We’re using smart technology so we can automate basic tasks to improve the efficiency of our workforce.
INTELLIGENT ENTERPRISE: This is when companies use cloud-based technologies including artificial intelligence and internet-linked devices (the so-called ‘internet of things’) to make better use of data and automate repetitive processes. This can provide real-time insight into operations, market environment and customers. Making timely data available throughout the organisation enables a move away from organisational silos, as well as creating deeper business insights and enabling more customer-focused decision making.
EXAMPLE: If companies are provided with a much clearer overview of what’s going on across the business at any given time, they will be able to react much more swiftly to changing circumstances. Staff workloads can also be reduced by automating repetitive back-office functions, enabling them to improve customer service.
IN OTHER WORDS/YOU COULD JUST SAY: We’re now using much more real-time information to enable our company to react far more quickly to changing customer requirements, and provide better service.
BLOCKCHAIN ENABLED: A blockchain is a decentralized public digital ledger that can record transactions across many computers so that to all intents and purposes the record can’t be altered. Blockchains are best known for their use in recording cryptocurrency transactions, but they have many other valuable uses in the corporate environment, by generating trust without the need for a trusted third party.
EXAMPLE: Banks are introducing blockchain enabled systems to greatly cut the cost of cross-border payments.
IN OTHER WORDS/YOU COULD JUST SAY: To improve efficiency we’re making more of our processes blockchain-enabled, which simply means the transactions are securely and cost-effectively recorded on a range of different computers, so they can’t be tampered with.