How Your Business Can Benefit from the Internet
Technology has been, in most cases, a friend to business - big and small. Having the right equipment, technology and software can help a business grow and expand, access useful information, improve efficiency and cut costs. The most important innovation in this area is the advent and development of the Internet and email. When used correctly, the benefits for an organisation are huge. In order to understand and realise the full potential of Internet and email, it is important that the key aspects and factors of both are examined and their effect on a company's ability to do business.
Using the Internet for personal use and using for business is completely different. Thus there are issues that one must consider:
Website - Having a website not only allows for a business to have a presence on the Internet but it also allows easier contact and relationship building with (potential) customers, suppliers and subcontractors. Make sure you think before getting a website. Even the most basic website can be costly so decide what it is that you want on it. Some important information to include is:
- Contact details
- The location of your business/company
- What products and services you provide
- A brief introduction
Think about the reasons for having a website - do you want to sell online? Do you want to show off what you are capable of? Or is it just because you want to cut costs? Having a clear idea of why you are having the website will enable you to focus on what it is going to look like, what the layout is going to be and what you are going to say in it. Think about how you will attract people to the website and how you will keep them coming back for more. Also think about hosting i.e. what Internet service provider you will build your site on. Make sure it is safe, quick, reliable and cost-effective.
Connecting to the Internet - the best way to ensure fast connection to the Internet is by using a broadband connection. Although dial-up is still available (and there are some good programmes out there), broadband is by far the speediest. Nowadays, thanks to mobile broadband and wireless connection (Wifi), you do not have to be stuck in the office to do business. You can take your laptop anywhere and be able to access the Internet, helping you and your customers connect in a way that was not possible before.
Making the Internet work for you and your business
As stated before, the Internet can present many opportunities for your business - to sell more, to provide information to and for your customers, increase brand awareness, reduce costs and improve how your business operates. Here are just two examples of how the Internet can help:
Virtual Private Networks - these allow you to access your business network from anywhere in the world by helping you (and your employees) securely access it no matter where they are in the world. It means that for example:
- An engineer can send and receive information that will help him to make a quick but informed decision
- Students and pupils have access to documents, journals and articles that will help them with their research
- An company accountant can keep an eye on the budget, cashflow, profit margins and other financial information
- A sales person can check that they have something in stock before making a presentation.
The vast majority of these come at a cost i.e. annual charges and connection fees so check them out before shelling out.
Intranet - Simply put, an intranet is a business' own private website. It is secure (well it is supposed to be!) allowing the flow of confidential and important information between the employees of a particular company. It is protected using certain protocols like passwords, user-names and strong firewalls. They help facilitate communication and provide a way to access knowledge, data and news which will enhance the way that work is done in the company. They enable staff to work from home or when they have to travel abroad to meet a client. All they need is a web browser. This encourages flexibility and adaptability for big and small businesses alike. They can even cut overheads by allowing people to work from any location.
Extranet - An extranet has the same kind of modus operandi of an intranet. The main difference is that it is accessible to a wider range of people that the company does business with. This includes suppliers, key clients, partners and contractors. It enables them to share data and information remotely. This is useful if employees and staff spend much of their time outside the office. Extra care has to be taken in terms of identifying people and making sure security is not compromised.
There is so much more to be said on this subject so tune in for part two where Internet promotion and marketing will be discussed and examined...
Take care and God bless readers and entrepreneurs....
Ngozi Nwabineli © 16th April 2010