Internet business applications
The Internet is an international network of computer systems that talk to each other using a defined communications protocol - Internet Protocol (IP), allowing users to access facilities such as e-mail and the World Wide Web (WWW).
E-mail, or electronic mail, is a facility that enables computer users to send messages and files to each other via the Internet. E-mail can be used regardless of the types of computer being used, as long as each user has a modem (the hardware needed to connect to the Internet) and an account with an Internet Service Provider (ISP).
E-mail is fast becoming an integral part of business, as it is a highly effective messaging service that can quickly distribute information to many people, enabling documents, spreadsheets and other attachments to be worked with by your business associates. It has already developed its own culture ("netiquette"), and there is an art to using it efficiently in the workplace. It is often informal and is a useful additional form of communication but shouldn’t be allowed to completely replace traditional and valuable forms of communication, such as telephone and face-to-face contact.
The World Wide Web
There is a huge amount of information available on the Web. Originally the Internet was mainly used in academic circles, but it is now fully integrated into the business world.
There are three main types of business website:
- informative: simply an information source, offering general, unique or topical information
- functional: integrated into the business process, for example accessing bank details, obtaining insurance quotes or searching for a restaurant and booking a table
- e-commerce enabled: websites where users can purchase goods or services, either B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer)
Questions to consider before you go on-line include:
- what are you going to use it for? E-mail, the Web or both?
- which Internet Service Provider (ISP) are you going to subscribe to and what pricing structure suits you? Remember, as a rule of thumb, low cost means low service quality, poor connectivity and low bandwidth (the speed at which data is transferred to you).
- how are you going to promote the fact that you are contactable via the Internet?
- have you got a suitable computer with browser software (the software used to look at websites, like Netscape or Explorer) and a modem?
Reviewed January 2011
last updated : 21/01/2011
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