A Brief Guide to Important Contemporary Business Terms

close up man hand type on keyboard laptop to use search engine optimization (SEO) tools for finding customer or promote and advertise about content online for marketing technology and business concept

Business terminology is constantly warping and changing directions. Understanding contemporary business terms is crucial for business leaders. Here is a very brief guide to some of the most significant terminology being employed today. From the most humble start-up to the most unassailable behemothic corporation, keeping up is non-negotiable, so read on to learn some of the common terms.


Search Engine Optimization – or SEO for short – is not exactly new. It was born not too long after the emergence of search engines in the mid-1990s. Legend has it that the manager of the rock band Jefferson Starship, fed up with the search engine performance of his charges’ website, sought to optimize their online presence. His efforts codified Search Engine Optimization for the first time.

Since then, SEO has become a far more complex and significant endeavor. A huge quantity of online traffic runs through search engines like Google. Businesses need good search engine performance if they are to compete. SEO is constantly evolving to keep up with and anticipate changes in search engine algorithms. Marketing executives looking to study MBA online need to brush up on the latest Search Engine Optimization trends if they want to succeed in the field.

In recent years Google have released multiple updates to their search algorithms that take advantage of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to tailor search results based on quality and context. This has caused a monumental shift in SEO strategies employed by top agencies.

Data Literacy

The world of business is increasingly reliant upon data. Huge datasets are collected and analyzed in order to build strategy, make forecasts and understand markets. This has posed a problem for some business leaders: how can they ensure data literacy within their organizations? According to a recent report published in the Harvard Business Review, many companies are struggling to cultivate data literacy despite the clear importance of doing so. 5 Key strategies for cultivating data literacy have been suggested by Harvard Business Review’s Rasheed Sabar:

Make it an organization-wide policy

Data literacy needs to run through an entire organization from the highest executive to the newest onboarding staff member. Unfortunately, many business leaders make the mistake of creating knowledge exclusivity within their businesses.

Develop a common language for speaking about data and how it relates to your business

Terminology should be completely standardized to avoid a tower of Babel type situation – a very real possibility when discussing complex concepts that are often referred to in different ways.

Create spaces where you connect business concepts with data concepts

Create time and space for learning. Do not expect to create data literacy within an organization without giving up some productivity. It is a naive move to overloading staff members with new information and expecting them to keep up with their usual workload.

Incentivize data-driven decision making

Reward forward-thinking data literacy with new roles and decision-making power.

Teach data literacy in ways that specifically relate to your business

You cannot impart all of the available knowledge about data: there is simply too much of it. Instead, teach only the relevant information to colleagues and allow them to build a more broad sense of data literacy from there.

Big Data

Even people with only a cursory knowledge of modern business terminology will have come across ‘big data’. Big data is a term that refers to any dataset that is large and varied enough to necessitate computational analysis and collection. Modern machine learning algorithms are able to analyze vast, varied datasets incredibly swiftly. This is luck because we live in the age of the data deluge – a crisis of accumulation driven by the exponential increase in data that is created. This is thanks to the rise of networked social, financial, and political society.

The term big data has actually been in use since the 1990s. Most experts credit John R Mashey as the person who initially coined the phrase. He worked for Silicon Graphics based in California. However, Mashey actually takes very little credit for his terminological invention himself – claiming in a New York Times article that the term is too simple and broad to be a real claim to fame.

Regardless of the origins of big data, it has proven to be immensely important in almost all modern (or postmodern, depending on who you ask) business practices.


Automation is another relatively old concept that has found new meaning in the 21st Century. Business leaders have pursued automation since ancient times. For example, the automation of textile mills in the 18th and 19th Centuries helped to drive the industrial revolution.

In more recent times, automation processes have become associated with machine learning and Artificial Intelligence. Automation substitutes human labor in both physical and cognitive areas.  Payroll, manufacturing, logistics, and data analysis have all been changed drastically in this latest wave of automation. This has completely shaken up how people have been employed – for better and for worse. Developed countries have seen such a huge wave of automation that they have struggled to upskill their populations to maintain gainful society-wide employment.

Every business leader needs to come to terms with the latest automation processes to keep up with their competitors.


The world is in the grip of a climate crisis – and a great deal of the blame for this crisis can be placed on the shoulders of business leaders. Business practices are responsible for a huge amount of pollution and environmental degradation. The public is well aware that businesses need to change their practices to promote sustainability. Since the Paris agreement in 2015, more and more pressure has mounted upon political and business actors to help reverse or slow down the dreadful descent into an unlivable climate. This decent affects poor and equatorial communities the most but will truly damage the quality of human life all around the planet very soon if not checked. Business leaders need to come up with sweeping and radical solutions to the problems that they have had a great hand in creating.



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