Do you know your ADSL from your ISP? Or are you just confused by all the jargon surrounding business-to-business e-commerce? Our glossary of crucial phrases will help you chat with confidence.


Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line is a new connection service that promises to make your modem 50 times faster. This will boost your computer’s ability to send and receive large amounts of data very quickly and run live video, among other things. ADSL uses existing copper telephone lines, which means your pavement doesn’t have to be dug up to install cables.


When Bovis Lend Lease buys bricks from Ibstock, it is a business-to-business transaction. If that transaction takes place over the Internet, jargon comes into play and it is known as B2B. A large number of B2B firms are pitching their products to the industry, including, BuildOnline and Cephren.

Clicks and mortar

Geek-speak for shopping on-line, using mouse clicks rather than a bricks-and-mortar shop.


A well-worn phrase to describe the transfer of any kind of information from one computer to another via the Internet.


Enterprise Resource Planning is the software network that links a firm’s different divisions. B2B applications are also part of the ERP network as they connect clients and suppliers.

Forward auctions

A means of selling off surplus or second-hand equipment on the web. Advertise it through a construction portal, invite bids and wait for the responses. is one of the construction portals that also offers reverse auctioning. A contractor puts out a call on the Internet for the product he wants to buy, suppliers transmit the price they want for it, and the buyer, watching his screen in his office, sees the bids come in and makes a choice.

Horizontal trading hub

A hub links a group of buyers and sellers, often called a community, and allows trading between the two. Horizontal hubs cut across several different industry sectors.


An Internet Service Provider supplies access to the Internet, including web-browsing and e-mail. Not to be confused with an ASP or application service provider, which supplies IT services.


The handiest for B2B traders is the Virtual Private Network, a secure communication channel that sends private information or transactions across the Internet.

On-line tendering

The e-commerce ideal is for a business to manage its supply chain over the Internet, cutting out vast amounts of paperwork. Tender documents can be posted on the Internet for the firms you want to bid, they fill in the document, and you make your choice. It isn’t clear yet, though, how much business is being done this way.


If you’re not sure what a portal is, think of the French word for door (porte). A portal is a sophisticated web site that attempts to offer a gateway to all the information you might need on a particular subject. The construction industry has a number of them, including BuildOnline, and

Response time

It is said that suppliers take far less time to respond to tender documents received over the Internet than to those received in paper form.


The Internet world is full of acronyms. This one refers to Secure Electronic Transaction, an industry standard for encrypting e-commerce transactions so that nobody can tap into confidential information.


Electronic trading is the holy grail of the B2B sites, and the race is on for each of them to attract as many visitors as they can – although it is difficult to determine how much success they have had so far. Electronic trading hubs act as an introduction service, linking up buyers and sellers.


Netties love making up complicated words to describe simple concepts – confusing everybody in the process. A vortal is simply a type of portal – a vertical portal, or one that supplies general resources for a specific sector.

Wireless Application Protocol

Otherwise known as WAP, this is a much-vaunted standard for wireless communication that allows information to be downloaded from the Internet to any mobile phone or mobile device. Potentially, this could be enormously useful to project managers on the move who need to stay in touch with their projects.

Xtra profit

What you might expect to make from undertaking all your transactions electronically. On the other hand, this is also what the portal providers want to make from handling your transactions electronically. After all, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Yellow Pages

If you are get really cheesed off with the world of e-commerce, you can always find a plumber in the Yellow Pages.