B2B - Business-To-Business, or in normal communications 'business to business'. This refers to a commercial trading model by which a business supplies other businesses, and by implication does not generally supply consumers, i.e., domestic private customers (which would be B2C). A B2B provider is therefore a provider of business services or products, for example: company auditors, manufacturers of industrial machinery, conference organizers, corporate hospitality, advertising agencies, trade journals, wholesalers, warehousing and logistics, management consultancies, mining, farming, industrial chemicals, papermills, etc. More detail at B2B in the acronyms glossary.
Back-End Load - A fee or commission paid by an individual when they sell their shares in an investment fund.
Back Shift - A group of workers or the period worked from late afternoon until late at night in an industry or occupation where there is also a day shift and a night shift.
Backscratching - Informal term for reciprocity or returning favours, as in the term 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours'.
Back-To-Back Loan - A loan in which two companies in separate countries borrow each other's money at the same time for a specific period at an agreed upon interest rate.
Back with Music - In the entertainment business, films, TV, etc., dialogue which is spoken over music.
Bait-and-Switch - In retail sales, when customers are lured by advertisements for a product at a low price, then find that the product is not available but a more expensive substitute is.
Balance Sheet - A financial statement of an individual, company or organisation, which shows assets and liabilities (money owed) at a specific date.
Balloon - Describes a long term loan in which there is a large final payment when the loan matures.
Bandwidth - In computing, the amount of information that can be transmitted through a communication channel over a given period of time, usually measured in 'bits per second' (bps).
Bancassurance - The selling of both insurance and banking services, usually by a major bank.
Bankers Hours - A short working day, often with a long lunch break.
Bank Loan - A loan made by a bank to an individual, company, etc., for a fixed term, to be repaid with interest.
Bank Run - Lots of sudden and heavy cash withdrawals at the same time from a bank or banks, because customers believe the banks may become insolvent.
Barista - A person who is a professional speciality coffee maker, for example, cappuccino, latte, espresso, etc.
Base 2 - Also known as the binary system, which is the basis of computer logic. Normal counting is based on 0-9. Binary just has 0-1, which means a new column is started after two, not nine. Binary counting does not go 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. It goes 0, 1, 10, 11, 100, 101, etc. Other than for computing it's not very practical.
Bathtub Curve - A U-shaped graph, often long horizontally - resembling a bathtub - representing high incidence or measure at the beginning and finish (far left and far right of graph) of a life-cycle or lifetime or period, with much lower incidence over a relatively long middle period (middle of graph), for example when measuring engineering failures in a product over time, in which early development teething problems produce high failure rates, tending to reduce to lower failure rates due to uncommon random faults, with failure rates again peaking at the end of product life, due to natural 'wear and tear'/exhaustion/erosion of components and construction. A Bathtub Curve may also equate to a U-shaped graph, for example in describing a type of recessionwhich contains a prolonged period at the lowest point, i.e., a U-shaped recession. See also 'bell curve' below.
Bean Counter - An informal derogatory term for an accountant, especially one who is perceived or suggested to be overly concerned about expenditure detail.
Beanfeast - Also known as a beano - an annual party, dinner, or outing given by an employer for its employees.
Bear Market - In the stock market a period of declining prices in which investors continue selling shares, expecting the prices to fall further.
Bear Raid - The practice, in the stock market, of attempting to push the price of a stock lower by selling in large numbers and often spreading unfavourable rumours about the company concerned.
Behemoth - A large and powerful organisation. (originally from Hebrew, behemot - beast)
Bell Curve - Survey/sample distribution term. 'Bell curve' is the common informal term for a graph with a large rounded peak in the middle, sloping sharply to the right and left and then tapering more gently at the extreme ends of the graph. It's a bell-shape, hence the name. The term 'bell curve' refers also to this sort of statistical distribution, even if it is not actually graphed. Technically in probability theory, mathematics and marketing, etc., the 'bell curve' is 'normal' distribution or Gaussian distribution (after German mathematician ohann Carl Friedrich Gauss). The bell curve is very commonly exhibited in sampling and surveys, where the vast majority of results/subjects/data tend to concentrate towards the average score, with incidence of variation above and below the average (shown graphically right and left) being roughly equal to each other, and much less than the incidence/results towards the average and majority. Business people often refer to a 'bell curve' when anticipating/explaining a situation where the vast majority of members of an audience or market are very similar, and only a very small minority is outside of the 'norm' or average. This terminology is helpful in emphasizing the needs or tendencies of the big majority, and avoiding distraction by or over-estimating the effect of minority interests/needs, which can cause projects to be distorted unnecessarily. There is a broad correlation between the notion of a 'bell curve' and Pareto theory, also known as the '80-20 Rule', i.e., both concepts highlight the significance of concentration and distribution when assessing opportunity, risk, effectiveness, and the targeting of communications, resources, etc. (Separately note for interest, the contrast between 'bell curve' and 'bathtub curve' graphs and what they mean)
Bells and Whistles - Extra features added often more for show than function, especially on computers, cameras, etc., to make the product more attractive to buyers.
Below The Line - BTL. Describes marketing which has a short-term duration, such as non-media advertising, direct-mail, e-mail, exhibitions, incentives, brochures, etc., which is targeted directly at the consumer/customer. Often used by companies on a limited budget.
Bench Warrant - An order issued by a judge for an absent defendent to be arrested and brought before a court.
Benefit Principle - A taxation principle which states that those who benefit more from government expenditure, financed by taxes, should pay more tax for the product or service than those who benefit less.
Benefits Realisation - Also Benefits Realisation Management, or if you prefer the US English it would be Benefits Realization. This refers to the translation of projects into real and perceived positive effects, seemingly a concept devised originally in the field of IT and ICT (Information and Communications Technology) project management, where projects are notoriously difficult to manage successfully and generate clear end-user appreciation. The term, abbreviated to BRM, is increasingly applied more widely to change managementand project management of all sorts, representing an additional final stage of project management process, for which a manager is sometimes specifically responsible.
Best Boy - The person on film sets, TV, etc., who is the assistant to the electrician.
Beta Test - The second test of a product, such as computer hardware, software, or even a website, under actual usage conditions, before the final version is used by or sold to the public. See Alpha Test.
Bid Bond - A sum agreed to be paid by a company that wins a contract if the work is not carried out.
Big Bang - Occurred (UK) on 27th October 1986, when major technology changes took place on the London Stock Exchange chiefly to replace manual systems with electronic processes.
The Big Board - An informal name for the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street.
The Big Three - The three largest credit ratings agencies: Standard and Poor's; Moody's, and Fitch. There are hundreds of smaller credit rating agencies, but historically 95% of the market is served/controlled by these three companies. As at 2013 their ownership is all American, except 50% of Fitch in French ownership. These companies have an enormous and controversial influence over corporate and international debt and the workings of credit and debt markets, banking, investments, etc., and consequently also on economies and societies around the world. 'The Big Three' are particularly controversial because of their considerable market dominance, considered by most commentators to be monopolistic (or at least a duopoly, given S&P/Moody's 80% market share), together with potential for conflict of interest in the way that the credit ratings industry operates: Credit rating agencies provide extensive high-value advisory services to the same markets/clients that are subject to the ratings issued by the agencies. Despite the heavy reliance on their assessments and pronouncements, the Big Three agencies failed to identify the toxic nature of the mortgage and related derivative debt 'products' prior to and regarded central to the 2008 global financial collapse, and in some cases awarded very positive ratings for these debts which subequently proved largely valueless and irrecoverable.
Bikeshed Colour effect/Colour of the Bikeshed Law/The Bicycle Shed Law/Parkinson's Law of Triviality - This was originally a concept or 'law' proposed by C Northcote Parkinson in his (1957/8) book Parkinson's Law: The Pursuit of Progress, which also gave us Parkinson's Law itself. The revived Triviality Law was popularized in 1999 by Poul Henning Kamp, a computer developer, effectively and accidentally renaming it the Bikeshed Colour effect. Essentially the law contends that people in organizations (due to human nature and organizational behaviour) inevitably spend a disproportionately large amount of time and effort on trivia matters - especially attempting to apply personal influence - while neglecting the really important issues because they are difficult to understand, and consequently more difficult to influence. See Parkinson's Lawand Parkinson's Law of Triviality, which includes more explanation about theBikeshed Colour effect and its derivation.
Bilateral - Agreement or involvement or action by two parties, people, companies, countries, etc. See Unilateral and Multilateral.
Biometrics - The biological identification of human features, such as eyes, voices and hands, increasingly used to identify individuals, e.g., in laptop computers, entry systems and passports.
Bitcoin - A significant digital currency, divided into 100 million units called satoshis, created by the pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto, first described by the creator(s) in 2008, broadly as an anonymous, peer-to-peer, electronic payments system. The Bitcoin currency is increasingly traded and as treated as seriously as conventional fiat (national or state-issued) currencies by the world's major financial merchants and institutions. The Bitcoin currency is scheduled to attain a finite total volume. It is 'mined' using a time-linked computerised generation process, via linked mutually/self-protecting computer servers including equipment belonging to 'members' who in return receive payment in Bitcoins in return for the use of computer processing power. The Bitcoin is part of the future of money perhaps, which does not rely on state or federal constitution, operating instead peer-to-peer (rather than through an institutional issuer), and instead relying on computing and internet or equivalent means of administration and connection. The Bitcoin name is a pun or double-meaning alluding to computing and coinage, i.e., a bit in computing is a single unit of data expressed as either 0 or 1 in binary notation; and separately a bit is a very old slang word for a coin (see bit coin slang). Reports following media investigations into and cross-linking encryption patents, Bitcoin white paper documentation, and registration of the bitcoin domain name, suggested the identity of the 'developer' to be three people, Neal King, Vladimir Oksman and Charles Bry, although each (at 2013) deny the assertion. Here's what the Bitcoin website says about the concept (at 2013):
•"Bitcoin uses peer to peer technology to operate with no central authority; managing transactions and issuing Bitcoins are carried out collectively by the network. Through many of its unique properties, Bitcoin allows exciting uses that could not be covered by any previous payment systems. The software is a community-driven free open source project, released under the MIT license." •(And the abstract from the explanatory white paper published by the developer): "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. - Satoshi Nakamoto - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.bitcoin.org - Abstract. A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent double-spending. We propose a solution to the double-spending problem using a peer-to-peer network. The network timestamps transactions by hashing them into an ongoing chain of hash-based proof-of-work, forming a record that cannot be changed without redoing the proof-of-work. The longest chain not only serves as proof of the sequence of events witnessed, but proof that it came from the largest pool of CPU power. As long as a majority of CPU power is controlled by nodes that are not cooperating to attack the network, they'll generate the longest chain and outpace attackers. The network itself requires minimal structure. Messages are broadcast on a best effort basis, and nodes can leave and rejoin the network at will, accepting the longest proof-of-work chain as proof of what happened while they were gone."
Bit Part - In films and TV, a supporting actor who has at least one line of dialogue, and who is usually listed in the credits.
Black Economy - Money earned in private cash transactions, which is untraceable, and therefore untaxable.
Black Knight - A company which makes a hostile takeover bid for another company that does not want to be bought.
Black Swan/Black Swan Theory - A 'black swan' refers to a random unpredictable and highly influential event (upon economics, society, politics, life, etc) whose potential/significance is generally only appreciated after it has happened, and even then is commonly rationalized (by commentators and leaders, etc) to have been predictable and part of a predictable pattern of some sort, which actually is not so, or it would have been. The tendency for many people to be in denial as to the true nature of black swan event unpredictability and impact is an important part of the black swan theory itself. Examples of 'black swans' are events such as the September 11 attacks on the US by al-Qaeda; the 1986 Chernobyl disaster; and the 2008 global financial/credit collapse. Black swans can instead be of a more positive nature, for example, the invention of the internet, or the fall of the Berlin Wall. The black swan term/theory was introduced by Nassim Taleb, a highly regarded Lebanese-American professor, author and theorist, in his best-selling 2001 book Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets, and reinforced by his follow-up 2007 best seller The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. The 'black swan' metaphor alludes to both to the rareness of black swans, and to early beliefs that the creatures did not exist - which relates to general attitudes towards the real nature of 'black swan' events. The word 'black' also suggests negative consequences, which commonly result from black swan events. 'Grey swan' is a related expression, also coined by Nassim Taleb in his books, which refers to a predicted or known event which has uncertain outcomes.
Blamestorming - Portmanteau term contrived from Brainstorming and Blame, referring to meetings or discussions seeking to allocate responsibility for a failure or disaster. Popularised in the late 1990s by viral emails which listed amusing office terminology.
Blatherskite - A person who talks at great length without saying anything useful. Originally a Scottish 16thC expression adopted into American slang from the song Maggie Lauder during the US War of Independence.
Blind Test - Research method in which people are asked to try a number of similar products which are not identified by brand name, to decide which product is the best.
Blind Trial - A trial, with two groups of people, to test the effect of a new product, especially in medicine. One group is given the real product while the other group is given a placebo or 'sugar pill', which does not contain any medication.
Bloatware - In computing, software that needs so much computer memory that it takes a long time to load and therefore does not function properly.
Blue Chip - On the stock market, shares of a large company with a good reputation, whose value and dividends are considered to be safe and reliable.
Blue-Sky Law - In the US, a law designed to protect the public from buying fraudulent securities.
Blue-Sky Thinking - Open-minded, original and creative thinking, not restricted by convention.
Bluetooth - Wireless technology which allows data to be transferred over short distances between laptop computers, mobile phones, digital cameras, etc.
Blue Law - In the US, a law which regulates and limits activities for religious reasons, such as Sunday working or shopping.
Bodhisattva - From Buddhism, a person who seeks enlightenment for the good of, and motivated by a compassion for, other people. In Western thinking we could see this to be similar to Maslow's notion of 'trancendence' in the pursuit of self-actualization, notably helping others to self-actualize. Not an easy concept to explain; in the spectrum of human behaviour it's about as far away that can be imagined from the pursuit of a merchant banker's bonus or the Presidency of Europe, if you'll forgive the clichés.
Boilerplate - A section of standard text, especially a contract clause, inserted into legal documents, or instead increasingly referring to a standard section of code inserted into computer programs or other digital applications. The main sense of the 'boilerplate' meaning is that the text/code is already existing and available to use, is quite fixed, needing little or no alteration, and by implication has a proven and trusted validity or suitability, and is therefore an aid to saving effort and cost compared with originating an equivalent clause or section of code from nothing. Usage and origins of the term boilerplate have become varied and confused, which perhaps helped popularize the term itself because this has made its meanings more flexible and widely applicable. The term 'boiler plate' or 'boiler-plate' seems to have two main original meanings: Firstly, plates of pre-cut/pre-formed metal used in constructing industrial boilers, and scondly, a much smaller plate or metal label attached to a boiler to identify the maker and other important details about the boiler. This latter sense is more iconically meaningful because of the visibility and imagery of steam engines and old industrial machinery. There is also a theory (not especially well-proven) that the term was initially applied metaphorically in traditional printing to the occasional use of hard durable steel printing plates for repeatedly used text/graphic sections, to save time and wear compared with the 'hot metal' and related methods of assembling printing plates from individual print blocks made from much softer metal.
Bold-Faced Names - Informal term for celebrities, used mostly in the USA.
Bona Fides - Credentials showing someone's true identity. (Latin - with good faith)
Bond - The financial meaning of a bond is normally a debt/investment instrument issued by a company or country for a period of more than a year, with fixed interest rates and a firm and full repayment date. Typically a bond will pay a stipulated rate of interest at fixed times, and the debt is repaid at a specified time, i.e., the investor is guaranteed to be repaid the amount loaned/invested in full. More loosely the word bond can refer to a mortgage in some parts of the world, for example South Africa. A bond may also refer to a legal deed or agreement by which one person or party is bound to make payments to another; or to an insurance contract; or (notably in the US) to a sum of money paid as bail. The specific and more general meanings of bond logically derive from the older and original sense of bond, meaning fasten together, or the tie/festening itself.
Bonded Warehouse - A warehouse in which imported goods are stored under bond, until the import taxes are paid on them.
Bonus - An extra sum of money given to an employee on top of their salary, often for achieving targets.
Bonus Culture - Term used when companies give their executives huge bonuses in addition to their large salaries, even if their performance has been poor, especially leaders of financial institutions.
Book Depreciation - A decrease or loss in value of a company's assets, as recorded in the company's finances.
Boomlet - A small period of rapid growth in trade and economic activity.
Bookkeeping - The recording of a business's transactions, such as sales, purchases, payments, income, etc.
Bootstrapping - Starting a business from scratch and building it up with minimum outside investment.
Bossnapping - Believed to have started in France, the unlawful imprisonment of a boss, in the offices of a company or on the site of a corporation, by employees who are protesting against redundancy, closure of the company, etc.
Bottom Fishing - Buying the cheapest investments available which are unlikely to fall much further in value.
Bounce - In economics a bounce is a small quick partial recovery of the economy after a recession, which may subsequently continue upwards in growth, or plateau neither growing or contracting, or descend back into recession.
Bounty Hunter - In the US, someone who pursues criminals or fugitives and brings them to the police in exchange for a monetary reward.
Boutique - A small shop or outlet typically selling fashionable and expensive items such as clothing. The term 'boutique' is also now increasingly applied as a descriptive word in various other sectors and products to denote an outlet/supplier of small-scale, highly individual, bohemian, quirky, or hand-made quality, for example Boutique Hotels, below.
Boutique Hotel - A small individual hotel, commonly within a historic building, with luxurious stylish themed and furnished rooms, typically independently owned.
Bracket Creep - Slowly moving into a higher tax bracket with small pay increases over a period of time.
Brain Drain - The loss of highly skilled people to another region, country or industry, where they can work in a better environment and/or earn more money.
Brainstorming - Problem solving in small groups, contributing ideas and developing creativity.
Brand - A unique identifying symbol, trademark, company name, etc., which enables a buyer to distinguish a product or service from its competitors.
Brand Association - Something or someone which make people think of a particular product.
Brand Loyalty - When a consumer repeatedly buys a particular brand of product and is reluctant to switch to another brand.
Bread and Butter - The main source of income of a company or an individual.
Break Even - To make enough money to cover costs. In business, the point at which sales equals costs. To make neither a profit or loss.
Bridging/Bridging loan/Bridge - A short term loan, normally at high rates of interest calculated daily, which 'bridges' a period when funds are unavailable, typically when payment has to be made before finance can be released from elsewhere to cover the transaction.
Brinkmanship - The practice of pursuing a tactic or method to the point of danger or damage, typically employed in competitive situations in which it is felt that the tactic will unsettle or cause the withdrawal of the adversary/ies. Dervies from the word brink, meaning the edge of a cliff or other dangerously high point.
British Standards Institution - BSI. An organisation which sets out formal guidelines to help businesses, etc., produce or perform more efficiently and safely. The BSI operates in more than 25 countries, and represent UK interests in other organisations, such as the ISO - International Organisation For Standardization.
Brownfield - Previously developed land, either commercial or industrial, which has been cleared for redevelopment.
Brown Goods - Household electrical entertainment appliances such as televisions, radios and music systems.
Brown-noser - Insulting slang term for a sychophant, originally 1930s US military slang (brown-nose). Brown-nosing describes crawling or creeping to please a boss; an amusingly disturbing interpretation of various expressions which juxtapose the head of the follower with the backside of the boss, as in the rude slang metaphors: kissing arse/ass, arse-licking, bum-licker, etc.
Bubble Economy - An unstable boom when the economy experiences an unusually rapid growth, with rising share prices and increased employment.
Budget - Allocation of funds or the estimation of costs for a department, project, etc., over a specific period. The management of spending and saving money.
Built To Flip - Companies which have been sold soon after they have been created, so that money can be made quickly.
Bullet Point - A symbol, e.g. a dot or a square, printed at the beginning of each item on a list.
Bull Market - On the Stock Market, a prolonged period in which share prices are rising and investors are buying.
Business Angel - Also known as Private Investor. A, usually wealthy, individual who invests money in developing (often high risk) companies, and who provides their advice, skills, knowledge and contacts in return for an equity share of the business.
Business Name - See also Trade Name/Trading Name, which are loosely interchangeable. These are a very vague terms indeed. Precise interpretation may depend on the actual legal definitions of these terms in the territory/state/country concerned. And also the way a business perceives and interprets the terms, and whether they fill in the forms/checkboxes correctly.. Generally business names and trade/trading names may be registered and licensed. A lot depends on the interpretation of the term 'Business name'. Business name can refer to a trade/trading name, or also could refer to the the over-arching or parent or holding company, which is ultimately responsible for a trade/trading name within or of the business. A trade name is normally a division or branded operation/service, or product brand, within/of a (legally titled) business, but the terms are very broad and it's difficult to be specific because circumstances and legal interpretations vary. Be careful to avoid applying a strict definition to such loose terms and certainly if serious implications stem from interpretation then seek expert local clarification.
Business Plan - A written document which sets out a business's plans and objectives, and how it will achieve them, e.g. by marketing, development, production, etc.
Business To Business - B2B. Commercial transactions or activities between businesses.
Business To Consumer - Transactions in which businesses sell goods and/or services to end consumers or customers.
Button Ad - A small advertisement on a website, typically measuring 120 x 90 pixels.
Buy-in - Purchase of a company where outside investors buy more than 50% of the shares, so they can take over the company.
Buzzword - A word or phrase which has become fashionable or popular, or sounds technical or important and is used to impress people.
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