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Demystifying Techie Jargon for Non-Techies

Credit union executives have a lot to keep track of these days. As we move through our day-to-day, sometimes we hear words – especially from the IT team – that we think sound good, but we aren’t quite sure what they mean. 

Frequently there are nuances that can be lost on the layperson that might be important to ensuring your credit union is getting exactly what it needs. Your IT team really knows their stuff, but at the end of the day, it’s CEOs and other C-suiters, plus the board, that must keep on top of tech to ensure appropriate acquisitions for the credit union’s strategic goals and proper governance and oversight. 

Prodigy lives and operates by the 8 Cooperative Principles, and we strongly believe in No. 5: Education, Training and Information. So, here’s a list of techie terms that credit union professionals and volunteers might want to keep in their back pockets.

Technology Jargon for Credit Unions

API stands for Application Programming Interface. It is the portal through which two applications and servers can communicate with each other, so they appear to operate as one system.  When we say integration, API is usually behind it.

An algorithm is a set of instructions for a program to perform a task.

Application is a software for completing a certain task.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is essentially a computer’s ability to mimic humans in terms of reasoning, planning, learning and other areas.

Big data refers to large and/or unstructured data sets that cannot be handled with a traditional processing system.

The blockchain is a decentralized ledger of activities and transactions that creates a permanent (immutable record, defined below) record that cannot be corrupted allowing the parties to remain anonymous.

Cloud backup lets a business store its data in a provider’s cloud over the internet, which allows for real-time data backup and ‘always on’ capabilities because of that backup. It’s less expensive than traditional backup services that are not virtual in nature like tapes and other physical devices. 

Cloud computing refers to the storage of data across remote servers rather than on a local computer, providing virtual infrastructure for enhanced self-service, flexibility and scalability. It allows users to access programs, data, documents and other information remotely and can be achieved through a public or private cloud. 

Cloud hosting is when a company pays a secure provider to store its data on virtual servers based in the cloud. Hey, Prodigy’s got that!

database is a collection of information easily accessible by computers using software applications. 

Data architecture is how data is collected, stored, accessed and used in companies and organizations. 

Data modeling is analyzing a business’s requirements for collecting and storing information.

Deployment is the installation and configuration of a software version into a production environment. It’s often used interchangeably with Release, which is a new version of a software.

Framework is a platform for developing software applications, providing the foundation upon which programs for a specific platform can be built. 

Generative AI is simply AI that generates work product. Popular examples right now include ChatGPT and Google’s Bard.

Immutable record is tracking created by using blockchain to make that record irrefutable.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) virtualizes all of an organization’s virtual and physical on-premise servers and moves them to a secure, private cloud. 

Java is a platform-independent coding language that expedites development and integrations; it is widely adopted across all industries. 

library is a collection of pre-written code that programmers often use to save time when writing applications.

Load balancing literally balances loads across multiple resources so as not to overwhelm one.

Machine learning a subset of AI that allows software to learn patterns based on sample data and make predictions.

Platform as a service (PaaS) is a cloud computing service, including computing, memory, storage, database and other app development services. It can be used internally or offered for sale.

Roadmap a high-level representation of a company’s technology strategy

A smart contract uses blockchain to ensure an action takes place immediately after a particular step has been completed. It creates an immutable record of each action so no one claim the contract wasn’t honored.

Software as a service (SaaS) is a method for delivering software via the internet to a subscriber that doesn’t require licensing nor installation on individual machines. 

Companies offer SDKs, or Software Development Kits, that facilitate development for users. 

SQL is the standard code language for managing databases and is ideal for managing multiple relational database management systems. SQL allows for distinct views of a database for varying purposes, like a loan officer’s view of a member versus a teller’s view. 

User Interface (UI) covers where the end user interacts with display screens, menus and other parts of a website.

UX, or user experience, refers to the ease with which a user can perform the tasks they came to accomplish.

Zero trust is a cybersecurity model that forces user and data verification at every level.

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