CIO Definitions

This glossary explains the meaning of key words and phrases that information technology (IT) and business professionals use when discussing CIO strategy and related software products. You can find additional definitions by visiting WhatIs.com or using the search box below.

  • P

    Porter's Five Forces

    Porter's Five Forces is a framework developed by economist Michael E. Porter to determine the profitability and therefore attractiveness of a market or market segment.

  • power user

    A power user, also called a super user, is someone whose computer skills are better than those of an organization's average end user. 

  • PPM (project and portfolio management)

    PPM (project and portfolio management) is a methodology used to prioritize IT projects based on cost, benefits and use of resources to achieve business goals.

  • prescriptive analytics

    Prescriptive analytics is a type of business analytics that focuses on finding the best course of action for a given situation, and belongs to a portfolio of analytic capabilities that include descriptive and predictive analytics.

  • pretexting

    Pretexting is a form of social engineering in which one individual lies to obtain privileged data about another individual in order to engage in identity theft or corporate espionage. A pretext is a false motive.

  • process innovation

    Process innovation refers to a change in an existing operation or product that creates significant value for an organization.

  • process-centric BPM

    Process-centric business process management is a holistic approach to BPM that centers on processes themselves, rather than individual  components such as  documents, workflow or people.  

  • procurement plan

    A procurement plan -- also called a procurement management plan -- is a document that justifies the need for an external supplier and explains how the process of finding a supplier will be performed.

  • product development (new product development - NPD)

    Product development, also called new product management, is a series of steps that includes the conceptualization, design, development and marketing of newly created or newly rebranded goods or services.

  • programmable economy

    The programmable economy is a term created by research firm Gartner Inc. in 2014 to describe the revolutionary changes happening in the global economy due to technology innovations.

  • project charter (PC)

    A project charter (PC) is a document that states a project exists and provides the project manager with written authority to begin work.

  • project management

    Project management is the discipline of using established principles, procedures and policies to successfully guide a project from conception through completion.

  • project planning

    Project planning is a discipline for stating how to complete a project within a certain timeframe, usually with defined stages, and with designated resources.

  • project post-mortem

    Project post-mortem is a process intended to inform project improvements by determining aspects that were successful or unsuccessful.

  • project scope

    Project scope is the part of project planning that involves determining and documenting a list of specific project goals, deliverables, tasks, costs and deadlines.

  • proof of concept (POC)

    A proof of concept (POC) is an exercise in which work is focused on determining whether an idea can be turned into a reality.

  • Prototyping Model

    The prototyping model is a systems development method in which a prototype is built, tested and then reworked as necessary until an acceptable outcome is achieved from which the complete system or product can be developed. table prototype is finally achieved.

  • public data

    Public data is information that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone with no existing local, national or international legal restrictions on access or usage.

  • PunchOut

    PunchOut is an e-procurement software application from Ariba that makes it possible for a buyer to access a supplier's Web site from within the buyer's own procurement application.

  • pure play

    Pure play is a business term used to indicate a company, business model or investment focused on a particular industry, product, service or line of distribution.

  • Q

    qualitative data

    Qualitative data is information that cannot be counted, measured or easily expressed using numbers. It is collected from text, audio and images and shared through data visualization tools, such as word clouds, concept maps, graph databases, timelines and infographics.

  • R

    radical innovation

    Radical innovation refers to an invention that represents something new to the world. Radical innovations typically carry more risk, promise greater reward and are more disruptive than incremental innovations, which in general improve upon something that already exists.

  • rainmaker (business)

    A rainmaker is an individual who generates an unusually high amount of revenue for an organization by bringing new clients and new business to the company.

  • redact

    To redact is to edit, or prepare for publishing.

  • Reddit

    Reddit is a social news website and forum where content is socially curated and promoted by site members through voting.

  • repeatable process

    A repeatable process is a set of actions that allow for a more efficient use of limited resources and reduce unwanted variation during the development and implementation of various projects.

  • request for quotation (RFQ)

    A request for quotation (RFQ) is a document that an organization submits to one or more potential suppliers eliciting quotations for a product or service.

  • reshoring

    Reshoring is the practice of bringing outsourced personnel and services back to the location from which they were originally offshored. 

  • resource allocation

    Resource allocation is the process of assigning and managing assets in a manner that supports an organization's strategic goals.

  • retargeting

    Retargeting is a type of online advertising whereby companies focus on particular audience members for promotions based on users' prior Internet search history or site visits.

  • reverse mentoring

    Reverse mentoring is a management practice in which a senior employee seeks to gain business insights from a less experienced, often younger employee.

  • rightsourcing

    Rightsourcing is selecting the best way to procure a service and deciding whether a company is best served by performing a business requirement in-house (insourcing) or contracting it out to a third-part service provider (outsourcing).  Rightsourcing literally means "choosing the correct source."

  • risk assessment framework (RAF)

    A risk assessment framework (RAF) is a strategy for prioritizing and sharing information about the security risks to an information technology (IT) infrastructure.

  • rogue IT

    Rogue IT is the use of unsanctioned information technology resources within an organization. 

  • ROI (return on investment)

    For a given use of money in an enterprise, the ROI (return on investment) is how much profit or cost saving is realized as a result.

  • What is RPA? Everything you need to know

    Robotic process automation technology is software that can be trained to mimic routine, labor-intensive tasks performed by humans.

  • S

    Safe Harbor

    Safe Harbor is the name of a policy agreement established between the United States Department of Commerce and the European Union in November 2000. The agreement, which regulated the way that U.S. companies could export and handle the personal data of European citizens, was ruled invalid in 2015.

  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)

    The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 is a federal law that established sweeping auditing and financial regulations for public companies.

  • SAS 70 (Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70)

    SAS 70 (Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70) was a widely recognized auditing standard that provided guidance on auditing a service organization's internal controls and reporting its customers' financial reporting processes. SSAE 16 replaced SAS 70 in 2011.

  • Section 508

    Section 508, an amendment to the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is a federal law mandating that all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities.

  • security audit

    A security audit is a systematic evaluation of the security of a company's information system by measuring how well it conforms to a set of established criteria.

  • selective outsourcing

    Selective outsourcing is a targeted sourcing strategy that relies upon sending very specific functions and work off-premises while keeping other functions on-premises.

  • self-destructing email

    Self-destructing email is electronic mail that vanishes or becomes unreadable after a certain length of time or upon the request of the sender... (Continued)

  • self-directed work team (SDWT)

    A self-directed work team (SDWT) is a group of people, usually employees in a company, who combine different skills and talents to work without the usual managerial supervision toward a common purpose or goal.

  • servant leadership

    Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy built on the belief that the most effective leaders strive to serve others, rather than accrue power or take control.

  • shared services

    Shared services is the consolidation of business operations that are used by multiple parts of the same organization.  

  • sharing economy

    The sharing economy, also known as collaborative consumption or peer-to-peer-based sharing, is a concept that highlights the ability -- and perhaps the preference -- of individuals to rent or borrow goods rather than buy and own them.

  • shopping cart

    On a Web site that sells products or services online, the shopping cart is a common metaphor (from the original grocery store shopping cart) for the catalog or other pages where a user reads and makes selections.

  • Silicon Valley

    Silicon Valley is home to some of the world's largest technology corporations and thousands of technology-related startup companies.

  • SIPOC diagram (suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, customers)

    A SIPOC (suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, customers) diagram is a visual tool for documenting a business process from beginning to end prior to implementation.

  • situational leadership

    Situational leadership is based on the belief that there is no single way to direct people; successful leaders will adapt the way they lead to the needs and abilities of their employees.

  • Six Sigma

    Six Sigma is an approach to data-driven management that seeks to improve quality by measuring how many defects there are in a process and systematically eliminating them until there are as close to zero defects as possible.

  • SkunkWorks project (Skunk Works)

    A skunk works is a small group of people who work on a project that needs to be completed quickly. The group's purpose is to develop something quickly with minimal management constraints.

  • SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud)

    SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) is the concept that the convergence of four technologies is currently driving business innovation.

  • smart machines

    A smart machine is a device embedded with machine-to-machine (M2M) and/or cognitive computing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning or deep learning, all of which it uses to reason, problem-solve, make decisions and even, ultimately, take action.

  • smart process applications (smart process apps)

    A smart process application is software that is designed to support an organization's business process management (BPM) efforts in a collaborative manner.

  • Social media management software (SMMS)

    Social media management software (SMMS) is a tool that allows organizations to monitor and analyze online conversations from different communication channels.

  • social network

    A social network, in technology parlance, is a website or other application where people, often of similar interests, come together to communicate with each other and share information including photos, videos, audio and written messages.

  • social shopping

    Social shopping is a type of e-commerce that seeks to involve people with similar tastes in an online shopping experience.

  • soft skills

    A soft skill is a personal attribute that supports situational awareness and enhances an individual's ability to get a job done. The term soft skills is often used as a synonym for people skills or emotional intelligence.

  • software license

    A software license is a document that provides legally binding guidelines on the use and distribution of software.

  • spend management

    In an enterprise, spend management is managing how to spend money to best effect in order to build products and services.

  • spoliation

    Spoliation is the destruction, alteration, or mutilation of evidence that may pertain to legal action. (Continued)

  • stakeholder

    A stakeholder is a person or group who has an interest -- vested or otherwise -- in an enterprise and whose support is required in order for an enterprise to be successful.

  • startup accelerator

    A startup accelerator, sometimes referred to as a seed accelerator, is a business program that supports early-stage, growth-driven companies through education, mentorship and financing.

  • startup company

    A startup company is a newly formed business with particular momentum behind it based on perceived demand for its product or service.

  • startup culture

    Startup culture refers to how people within a new business, or startup, work together.

  • steering committee

    A steering committee is a group of high-level advisors who have been appointed to provide an organization or project with direction.

  • strategic innovation

    Strategic innovation is a company's process of reinventing its corporate strategy to encourage growth, create value for the company and its customers, and gain competitive differentiation.

  • strategic leadership

    Strategic leadership is a practice in which executives, using different styles of management, develop a vision for their organization that enables it to adapt to or remain competitive in a changing economic and technological climate.

  • strategic management

    Strategic management is the ongoing planning, monitoring, analysis and assessment of all necessities an organization needs to meet its goals and objectives.

  • strategic planning

    Strategic planning is the process executives undertake in order to make thoughtful decisions about their organization’s mission, values and goals, and properly allocate resources to fulfill those directives.

  • sunk cost (SC)

    A sunk cost is money that has already been spent and cannot be recovered. Logic dictates that because sunk costs will not change -- no matter what actions are taken -- they should not play a role in decision-making. Emotionally, however, the more someone invests time, effort and money on something, the harder it becomes to leave it and move on.

  • Superdome

    Superdome is a high-end 64-bit, Hewlett-Packard (HP) PA-8600 processor-based UNIX server designed for e-commerce customers using very large databases.

  • sustainability risk management (SRM)

    Sustainability risk management (SRM) is a business strategy that aligns profit goals with a company's environmental policies.

  • SWIFT (Society for the Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication)

    Founded in Brussels in 1973, the Society for the Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is a co-operative organization dedicated to the promotion and development of standardized global interactivity for financial transactions.

  • SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis)

    SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis) is a framework for identifying and analyzing the internal and external factors that can have an impact on the viability of a project, product, place or person.

  • synthetic data

    Synthetic data is information that's artificially manufactured rather than generated by real-world events.

  • systems of engagement

    Systems of engagement are decentralized IT components that incorporate communication technologies such as social media to encourage and enable peer interaction.

  • systems thinking

    Systems thinking is a holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the way that a system's constituent parts interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems.

  • T

    think tank

    A think tank is an organization that gathers a group of interdisciplinary scholars to perform research around particular policies, issues or ideas.

  • thought leader (thought leadership)

    A thought leader is a person who or organization that is widely recognized as an expert in a given field and whose opinions are in high demand. Thought leaders use their influence to change their fields, to make money and to add value to the people and organizations that seek their expertise.

  • threat hunter (cybersecurity threat analyst)

    A threat hunter, also called a cybersecurity threat analyst, is a security professional or managed service provider (MSP) that proactively uses manual or machine-assisted techniques to detect security incidents that may elude the grasp of automated systems.

  • Tibco

    Tibco makes integration server software for enterprises.

  • Total Quality Management (TQM)

    Total Quality Management is a management framework based on the belief that an organization can build long-term success by having all its members, from low-level workers to its highest ranking executives, focus on quality improvement and, thus, delivering customer satisfaction.

  • transaction

    In computer programming, a transaction usually means a sequence of information exchange and related work (such as database updating) that is treated as a unit for the purposes of satisfying a request and for ensuring database integrity.

  • transactional leadership

    Transactional leadership is a leadership style where the executive relies on rewards and punishments to achieve optimal job performance from his or her subordinates.

  • transfer learning

    Transfer learning is the application of knowledge gained from completing one task to help solve a different, but related, problem.

  • transformational leadership

    Transformational leadership describes the ability of an organization's management to foster significant change, often by leveraging new technology.

  • tweetchat

    A tweetchat, also called a tweet jam, is a discussion carried out on Twitter.

  • two-speed IT

    Two-speed IT is the concept that strategic planning for an IT department should include a fast track that allows some projects to be implemented quickly.

  • U

    UBE (unsolicited bulk email)

    UBE (unsolicited bulk email) is a formal term for spam.

  • UCE (unsolicited commercial email)

    UCE (unsolicited commercial e-mail) is a legal term used to describe an electronic promotional message sent to a consumer without the consumer's prior request or consent.

  • unsourcing

    Unsourcing is the transfer of an organization's customer service and support functions from paid employees to unpaid or low-paid online communities.

  • user-generated content (UGC)

    User-generated content (UGC) is the words and photos that unpaid contributors create and provide to publications, particularly Web properties.

  • UX (user experience)

    User experience (UX) encompasses all aspects of an end user's interaction with and attitude toward a given IT system or services, including the interface, graphics and design.

  • V

    value chain

    A value chain is "a string of companies working together to satisfy market demands."

  • value innovation

    Value innovation is the implementation of upgrades or new technologies designed to help a company differentiate its products or services while lowering costs.

  • value proposition

    A value proposition is a statement that clearly identifies the benefits a company's products and services will deliver to its customers.

  • value-sensitive design (VSD)

    Value-sensitive design (VSD) is a concept and methodology that stresses the importance of incorporating human values in the design of technology throughout the design process.

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