The Internet, often called the Information Superhighway by the media, connects computers all over the world to a degree not even anticipated by futurists. With the Internet growing at an astounding rate, businesses around the world see a wealth of opportunity presented by this new medium. Some companies see the Internet primarily as a tool for speeding existing business processes. Others see it as a way to offer new services and to create new sources of revenue. Prophets tell of the day when all business transactions, ranging from customer service to buying and selling of goods and services, can be conducted on the Internet.
The Internet is a large network formed by the interconnection of the computer networks and individual computers all over the world, via phone lines, satellites, an other communications systems. The Internet has it roots in ARPAnet, established by the Advanced Research Projects Agency. It was a research and defense network created by the US Department of Defense in the early 1970s to research network systems and to allow scientists and researchers better communication and data exchange for other projects. One of the early outcomes of this initiative was the development of new ways of routing data via multiple paths using units of data called packets, the destination address of each packet was built into its structure. These methods became the standards known today as Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), and form the common language of the Internet allowing different types of computers and different types of networks to interact.
User Friendly for Business
The Internet has become user friendly both for individuals and for businesses. In the past, business activities on the Internet were indeed limited, but now, not only can business be done on the Internet, it is being done by tens of thousands of business.
Business access, previously confined mostly to business dealing with government contracts, is now readily and inexpensively available to all business. Business can now be online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, world-wide.
User Friendly for People
Until recently, an individual had to learn about many different Internet systems to make full use of Internet’s resources. This included learning the nature of, and commands for : FTP, Archive, Gopher, Veronica and WAIS. Now, however, fueled by the growth of the world Wide Web on the Internet, programs have been written that act as an interfaces between you and the Internet. These programs, called “browsers,” provide a uniform, easy-to-learn way of dealing with the diverse systems and resources on the Internet.
Excellent for Marketing and Sales
The web is a system on the Internet that allows anyone to have a 24 hour-a-day “presence” on the Internet. Specially written files are placed on a computer connected full time to the Internet. Others on the Internet then can, by using one of the browser programs, view these files. Those “browsing” the Internet can be presented with much more than words — the files can contain full color pictures, movies, sound, and interactive programs. Viewers indicate their choices of items on a Web page by pointing and clicking with their computer’s mouse. These choices can be for other pictures, audio, lists, or even on-screen fill out forms that can be used to send responses to the business or individual that owns the Web page.
Here are just a few of the possibilities for marketing and sales using the World Wide Web
• Full color virtual catalogs with formatted pages of text and pictures — easily updated, with updates available to others immediately
• On-screen order forms
• Online customer support with graphics, photographs, sound, and text information
• Worldwide distribution of product and other business announcements, without printing or mailing costs
• Customer feedback, request, and survey forms, with data collected in files for you to use whenever you want
Today, for business on the Internet, the absolute hot spot is the World Wide Web. From kitchen table entrepreneurs to multinational conglomerates, businesses are creating their own business presence in cyberspace on the web. There are numerous business functions and activities that can be pursued by using the Web online. These include communication (both internal and external), information management and distribution, public relations, customer service, technical assistance, cost containment, and, of course, marketing and sales.