In a relatively short duration, the internet has revolutionized the business field in many aspects. It has helped pioneer new industries. It has also changed the manner in which business organizations conduct operations. Some even operate entirely over the internet. The online platform has also made redundant some traditional channels. In addition, it has resulted in a shorter business cycle from the points of production to the final consumption. Finally, it has significantly reduced the cost of doing business. The internet has had phenomenal impacts on business. Despite its shortcomings, the advantages of internet in the business field overshadow the disadvantages.
Impacts of the internet on businesses
The internet has helped pioneer new industries. It is entirely due to it that most technology-based companies operating in the market are in existence. These include computer manufacturers and software developers. In addition, it has also provided an avenue for the creation of new businesses out of preexisting ones. A majority of these are online businesses which serve similar functions to those in the traditional or physical market (Janelle, (2001). Furthermore, new traditional businesses have also emerged to complement the virtual entities. These include companies offering shipping services which cannot be undertaken online.
With its online platform, the internet has provided a better alternative for undertaking business functions and operations. It has offered companies the opportunity to undertake the bulk of their activities online as opposed to manually. Its applications can facilitate a wide range of activities such as enquiries, orders, sales, marketing, payment, and public relations among others. The companies simply have to purchase the relevant software to make the switch to online operations. In addition, the massive information carried on the internet has also provided a platform to keep up with the market. It has enabled the management to understand emerging trends and accurately predict market fluctuations (Parkinson, 2013). Drawing upon past experiences and from companies faced with similar situations, they can take proactive measures to manage the future.
As the use of internet in business becomes more widespread, new innovations have made traditional channels and functions redundant. The best examples include innovations such as Skype and video-conferencing which have given rise to virtual workplaces. Employees no longer have to be physically present at their work stations to accomplish tasks. Top managers also do not have to travel long distances to attend business meetings. All these can be done from the comfort of their homes or any other location with access to internet. Marketing is also another function that is now largely an online activity. As compared to traditional marketing, it is much effective in reaching out to a wide audience and receiving feedback (Yannopoulos, 2011). As a result, marketing departments are fast being transformed to function online.
The advent of internet into the business world has brought along efficiency and lower operational costs. Through the various internet applications, the levels of automation have increased drastically. Operations have become much more efficient and cost effective than ever before. Furthermore, online operations are also cheaper to run than the traditional options. Not only do they reduce costs directly by lowering overheads but also indirectly by doing away with intermediaries. The intermediaries include third party distributors and sellers whose commissions eat into an organization’s profits.
Negative side of the internet
Even though the internet has had profound impacts on business, it has not been without its darker side. The online platform has seen a sharp increase in fraud cases. Its virtual characteristic has provided a veil behind which shrewd individuals hide to swindle unsuspecting consumers. The individuals pose as genuine proprietors or representatives of popular brands but vanish upon the receipt of payments from the victims. Some are sophisticated computer experts who hack into and transfer balances from various online accounts.
Despite giving rise to new businesses, it has also resulted in the death or slow demand in other sectors. Some of the victims include the traditional retailers which lose customer traffic to their online counterparts and the music industry where album sales are on the decline due to illegal free downloads (Andersen & Frenz, 2010).
The internet has facilitated unauthorized access to classified information. Most businesses now have to deal with an increased threat of industrial espionage from hackers. It has become necessary for them to invest in sophisticated and expensive online security applications to guard business secrets. Otherwise, strategies or future product development could fall into the hands of rivals and eliminate competitive advantages.
Finally, there is also the issue of its overreliance. Since some companies depend entirely on it to run operations, there is an increased threat of total business shutdown in case any of its applications collapses. Even those that partly rely on it seldom make contingency plans to manage unexpected malfunctions. This means that companies will experience massive revenues losses during such occasions.
The internet has turned out to be an effective tool in the business world. It has resulted in new opportunities and higher levels of efficiencies for the traditional businesses. Cost reduction has also been one of its major achievements. However, it has also brought along some disadvantages. Despite its shortcomings, the positive side more than outweighs the negative side. Emphasis should now be on maximizing the advantages while simultaneously minimizing its disadvantages in order to preserve its effectiveness.
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