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I already knew the basic meaning of pipeline indicating a series of tubes for transporting gas, oil, or water. But I found the word 'pipeline' written with a different nuance especially when aritcles describe tech companies' strategy. Here are the examples.

  1. Blizzard: we have the strongest multi-year pipeline ever. (Source)
  2. Zynga’s live service portfolio while also expanding its new game pipeline. (Source)
  3. JD has a number of interesting growth drivers and initiatives in the pipeline. (Source)
  4. we still view as likely conservative given a robust pipeline.

Could you give more specific meaning?

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In business, a "pipeline" is a source where products and services flow into a said business or company out to an eventual customer. What's in the "pipeline" could simply be anything from information, to processes, to services, or actual products. Since businesses don't want to create waste, a business will "pipeline" informatin, processess, services to actual goods to follow along a specific, established business process or flowchart, or workflow.

As with a real pipeline, like a gas or oil, a real pipeline has actual pumps, valves, and control devices. So does a business pipeline; but, a business one is more abstract. Still, it has these same devices, even if a business pipeline carries mostly information, how it's accessed or controlled or used to 'feed" a business in creating (manufacture) or providing a service (retail outlet).

A business pipeline is the flow of information or actual products, like a 'flow' of goods from manufacturing, generated by supply & demand - this connection btwn factory - retail store - and customer. This generates workflow whenever an item is manufactured, to a retailer putting it out on the shelf, to the customer purchasing an item is a business pipeline. The business pipeline flows and provides business to all three in all three directions, so it's called a pipeline.

  • A good reason for using the pipeline analogy is when things cannot easily switch places in the temporal flow. – AmI Apr 21 at 3:20
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Pipeline = process. In sales, the pipeline is what is in the works. So, I might have 10 deals in the pipeline, and once another potential client signs his contract I'll have 11. Pipeline is a shorter term than "assembly line," which illustrates the sales process or business workings. "Public works" often includes water, gas, etc. They all use pipelines:)

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