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How has technology changed the way we conduct business?

Technology affects almost every aspect of our lives. Just look around you and you'll see how wired we are. Thanks to the Internet, virtually anything you desire can be delivered to your door in a matter of days.

By Jane McGrath | Source: http://money.howstuffworks.com/

Personal information is more accessible over the Internet as well -- you can look up everything from a long-lost cousin to the registered sex offenders in your neighborhood. You can even trade stocks or file taxes online. Parents don't need to lose sleep waiting for their teenage daughter to come home -- they can just call her cell phone, or send an unobtrusive text, to check up.

But as much as our personal lives have changed, the business world has revolutionized almost beyond recognition in the past few decades. Technology -- and we mean the advances in communication and information technology -- has changed the face and the pace of business.

As communication and information travels faster and faster, the world seems smaller and smaller, and this has large implications for the way we conduct business. Storing important in files on a computer rather than in drawers, for instance, has made information easily accessible. Using e-mail allows businesses to communicate and send these files quickly to remote locations outside of an office.

Many argue technology has blurred the line between professional and private lives. Wireless Internet, cell phones and BlackBerries have made it easy to work from home -- or for that matter, from the beach. The fact that it's easy to work from the beach compels people to do so. On the flip side, people also feel compelled to use Internet access at work for personal reasons. In this way, technology allows workaholics to work and slackers to slack.

So, exactly how has technology changed the way we do business? In countless ways, but we'll highlight the major ones on the next page.

Internet Business

The Internet enables airlines to provide online flight booking, banks to offer online account management and bill pay and allows any company to sell any product online. In general, the Internet has proven to be an inexpensive way to reach more customers. Nowadays, if you can't find a business online, or if it has an outdated, ugly Web site, it looks downright unprofessional.

Many businesses have succeeded in using the Internet as their primary, or sometimes only, medium. (You're, of course, aware of this, given that you're reading a HowStuffWorks article. HowStuffWorks started as a hobby for college professor Marshall Brain, and it eventually grew into successful company.)

Small businesses, too, have become easier to start up using the Internet. If you're a stay-at-home mom who makes a killer batch of cookies, you can easily sell them over the Internet and ship them to your customers.

But, it's not always as simple as it sounds. Any business conducted online must consider security, privacy or even copyright issues. Copyright issues would include making sure your business doesn't use someone else's original work (such as a logo, for instance) or even making sure no one else is profiting from your business's creative work.

One of the biggest ways the Internet has changed business is through targeted advertising. Using Google, companies can specify the keywords that will drive certain customers to their ad. For instance, if you were to plug the word "baking" into Google, you might click on a page from epicurious.com. That epicurious page will have Google ads from sponsors who sell baking-related products. A company that sells rolling pins can pay to have its ads show up for people who search for specific words, like "baking," "pies" or "dough." It makes good business sense -- people who search for "baking" on Google will be much more likely to click on a rolling pin ad than the average person.

Despite what we've discussed in this article, we haven't even scratched the surface of what new technology can do for business communications. The next page provides links to even more articles on information technology and products that have business implications.

 

Source: http://money.howstuffworks.com/

 

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