Manilka Ediriweera explains how the internet has greatly shaped business

Many if not most aspects of our daily lives have been radically changing thanks to the multitude of advances in technology – particularly the internet. It’s now a vital part of our lives and we use it often in many ways that include – but are by no means limited to – ordering pizza, looking up a long-lost friend or even trading stocks online.

It seems that the internet has turned our existence upside down and transformed the world in the process. Since its inception, it has changed from being a network designed to shuttle a small number of bytes to one that holds colossal quantities of information today. And this makes it the largest computer network in the world.

The emergence of Web 2.0 in the 21st century was a revolution of the internet. It facilitated the rise of social media and other interactive tools, and enabled us to create content, communicate and even take a break from reality when needed.

But as with everything else, there’s a flip side to the internet too with regard to challenges posed to privacy and security.

Similar to the way the internet changed our personal lives, it has also revolutionised how we do business. With the rapid rise of digitalisation, the business world is a much larger place and the internet has unearthed a whole slew of skills, jobs, business systems and techniques that people would have laughed at a few decades ago.

It has even changed the nature of existing jobs.

The internet has also transformed the way businesses operate and created new opportunities, in areas such as marketing, e-commerce, recruitment, market research and so on. It has even altered the way we purchase goods. One can now shop directly online through B2C  marketplaces on the web and carry out B2B transactions.

At the same time, the e-commerce industry has been experiencing consistent growth throughout the years – and it continues to do so with people switching to online buying because of its advantages such as convenience and lower prices.

The internet has also brought about faster communication and this in turn has made business activities quicker, and easier to communicate with customers, employees and clients. With the ability to communicate through emails and conduct meetings online, companies are no longer required to maintain or even rent office space.

Consequently, this benefits enterprises since they aren’t limited to recruiting talent based solely on geography. Instead, they can recruit talent from anywhere in the world.

Another significant change that has taken place with the development of the internet is the way businesses process our data, and carry out marketing and advertising activities. With the increasing popularity of social media, and the use of cookies and data capture forms, companies now have plenty of information on their customers. This allows them to create more customised and targeted campaigns to increase sales.

Businesses use this data and engage in social media, digital and email marketing; blogs; and search engine and website marketing. They communicate their message and content to a wider section of potential buyers through customised target audience based marketing techniques.

Not only are these forms of marketing less expensive and more effective, they also provide businesses with the ability to study and understand the efficiency and success of their promotional strategies through data analytics tools.

The development of the internet has also created space to invent new products and services such as digital assistants, autonomous vehicles and even streaming services. And finally, it has reduced overheads through telecommuting.

Simply stated, telecommuting is the process of working from home or at a distance by using the internet and not having to commute to the office. This process improves efficiency, flexibility, employee retention and attraction, and reduces overheads – all of which
are desirable outcomes for businesses.

Although the internet has revolutionised business, one of the most concerning drawbacks relates to issues associated with privacy and security of data. Therefore, companies must stay alert and learn to navigate the legislation that surrounds it. Because of the internet revolution and the way businesses operate, IT services have become critical for companies to ensure that they can continue to operate smoothly and efficiently.

Overall, the internet has made businesses and business processes simpler, and opened the way for new markets. It has left little doubt in our minds about its full potential – and how it will continue to benefit enterprises as they grow.

So it’s safe to say that the future looks promising, and it will be exciting and mind-blowing with even more advancements and changes on the cards.