The Internet has impacted businesses.
Twenty years ago, a business opened an office or storefront, advertised in the local newspaper, joined a local networking organization and hoped the local consumers needed what they had to offer.
All that changed with the inception of the Internet.
A business is no longer dependent on its local customer base for its survival; it now has a worldwide audience for its products and services. The Internet has changed not only a business’ customer base, but how a business communicates with its employees, attracts new clients and customers, and manages the competitive marketplace.
Communication — A business’ ability to communicate with its employees, customers and associates changed dramatically when the Internet yielded new communication tools. Email and instant messaging have changed the face of business communication. According to a study conducted by the Small Business Administration, 36 percent of women business owners and 38 percent of male business owners use email very frequently, while over half of both men and women use email at least occasionally.
Telecommuting — Many businesses are now offering the option for their employees to work from home using office equipment provided by the company. This process, referred to as telecommuting, allows a business to decrease its overhead costs by needing less office space and using less in utilities for daily operation. According to the Suite Commute Website, in 2008, 33.7 million employees telecommuted.
Marketing — With the advent of Internet marketing, a business must stay abreast of the needs of its customers. Competition is no longer localized; a business now has competition all over the world. It is imperative that a business know what its clients and customers want, and deliver it. Surveys, questionnaires, feedback forms and comments on a Website can be used to monitor the needs of a target audience.
Advertising — Including the Internet in a business’ advertising budget extends a business’ ability to attract customers from their back yard to all four corners of the globe. Websites, banner placement and SEO (search engine optimization) allow a business to have a presence on the Web and reach millions of potential clients and customers.
Collaboration — Working with other businesses and professionals is simplified with the use of the Internet. Online seminars (Webinars) make collaborating on projects with people all over the world as easy as logging onto a Website.
Research — Businesses use the Internet to research new product ideas, new methods of creating products and pricing information. A business can also research the competition to see what products and services are offered. If a company is looking to expand into a particular location, the Internet can be used to research the population, its needs and what products and services would sell best in that area.