|Today, businesses primarily
use the Internet for advertising, marketing, and customer
support. As a global network, the Internet's customer
base is the entire world population, making it
incredibility attractive to business. But what are some
of the another ways that the Internet can help businesses
Product Development on the Internet
The Internet can be an invaluable tool for developing new
products; it is ideal for any product that can be stored
as digital information on a computer. Many industries
would benefit from Internet-based manufacturing, the most
obvious of which are computer software, publishing,
finance, and the fields of music and art.
To illustrate the many potential uses of the Internet,
let's follow the development process for a new computer
software product. To demonstrate the global capabilities
of the Internet, let's say that this business effort will
be the result of a joint venture between an American
company and a French company. These companies are forming
a strategic alliance so as to benefit from each other's
strengths in technology and product distribution
channels. At every stage we will see that the Internet
adds value and shortens production cycles.
Getting the Project Team Together
It does not matter that the members of the project team
are located on two countries. They can communicate via
Internet email or Internet-based conferencing from
locations around the world. Team members can collaborate
at various stages of the project, creating flexible
resource pools. If the team decides it needs additional
expertise during the project, the Internet can help in
finding these resources, because search firms have their
own Web presence, and post employment opportunities.
Because of the internet's sound and graphics capabilities
, candidates; resumes can include audio/ video
components. Individual companies can post their job
openings and candidate requirements directly on their own
Web servers. Global recruitment of human resources
becomes quick, effortless, and less costly; intermediary
headhunting fees can be eliminated.
Communicating on the Internet
When the project team is finalized, members can jointly
write feasibility studies using electronic mail and other
Internet based communications. The team can hold virtual
meetings using Internet Relay Chat (IRT) or one of the
never electronic white board technologies. They can
develop a Wed site to store project documents. As team
members develop project ideas, they can place their
creations on the Web site, allowing other team members to
comment and expand on their ideas. If the team needs to
discuss design topics at length, they can create a
network news site and utilize it as an electronic
bulletin board and discussion forum.
Research and Development on the
As the project progresses, the team needs to conduct
various types of research. They want to determine whether
anyone has ever tried marketing this product before and
whether the public might be interested.
The team members decide to search the Internet for
historical information on this type of product. Since
they aren't sure what others may have called it, they
begin their search with the Yahoo subject index. After
getting a few hits and gaining a better understanding of
what they are researching, they conduct a keyword search
using the Infoseek index.
To aid with the research process, they find that on-line
libraries, government agencies, and educational
institutions are freely accessible. Legal issues relating
to conducting business internationally can be researched
as well. As our example involves a technical product ,
legalities and liabilities concerning transnational
technology transfer should be investigated.
Having looked at the historical market for their product,
the team now turns to conduct its own market research.
Rather than resort to traditional market research
methods, the members decide to conduct their surveys on
the Internet itself. They can do this by using Web
technology, e-mail, bulletin boards, or FTP, to name a
few services. Market research is a natural for the
Internet as it gives direct access to millions of people
Software Product on the Internet
Building a computer software product is easy on the
Internet. Developers need to exchange files such as
computer programs and data on an ongoing basis. They can
do this in at least three ways, including e-mail, FTP,
and the World Wide Web.
The Internet provides excellent services for product
testing and has the additional benefit that the testing
can be done from any location, developers do not have to
be on-site. Special stress testing of a product prototype
is easier on the Internet as well. Additional computing
power is available on demand through the Internet, and
can be purchased on-line directly from powerful remote
super computers. Although many of these services have
been available for same time, the Internet's global
properties enable them to be used to their fullest
Another major benefit of the Internet for product
development is that it can proceed around clock. With
tools such as Web technology and file transfer, delays
due to the unavailability of files are practically
nonexistent. Work on software programs can be continuous:
U.S. developers can continue to work on files that
developers in france have finished at the end of their
workday. The difference in time zones matters little.
This fact alone can radically improve overall
productivity an output.
on the Internet
Once the product is designed and developed, the firms can
use the Internet for the manufacturing process. As
previously discussed, the Internet provides an incredible
means for software distribution, bypassing the need for
physical media such as CDs or diskettes.
All product documentation such as user manuals or
installation guides can be developed, maintained, and
distributed online as well. Source material for these
documents can be maintained in different location by
different suppliers. Information from various vendors can
be dynamically combined into one document and compiled on
demand, reflecting up-to-the-minute information.
Similarly, any hard copy production requirements can be
ordered on demand. One-time publishing or printing costs
can now be viewed as cost-effective.
Accounting on the Internet
Accounting and record keeping can be done electronically
for all aspects of the new venture, instantaneously
updating the financial records of the corporation as
transactions occur. Financial transactions can be
time-stamped or digitally notarized, providing the
necessary audit trails for optimal accountability.
Contracts and licenses can be issued electronically,
using electronic copyrighting and digital signatures with
encryption for product reproduction control. Financial
institutions acting as certifying authorities can
electronically notarize and authenticate the digital
signatures. Payments can be made electronically from
customer to bank, bank to bank, and bank to supplier,
thereby eliminating losses caused by time delays
involving physical payment instruments.
In summary, the Internet's ability to facilitate vertical
product integration is one of its fundamental benefits.
The supply, manufacturing, sales, and distribution of
goods can occur globally. The field of electronic
commerce will blossom using Internet-based technology. At
every stage of the product development life cycle, the
Internet saves time and money through cost containment
and reduced time to market. Because of virtual
integration, the role of the retailer will merge with
that of the wholesaler, and consumers will increasingly
make purchases directly from manufacturers. This will
enable the manufacturers to offer their complete range of
services directly to the consumer, whereas in the past
they may have been represented by a limited subset of
their goods that was selected by a particular retailer.
Disinter mediation will result in lower sales prices,
rewarding the Internet marketer with a competitive edge
that's hard to beat.
As a strategic tool, using the Internet will become
mandatory for organizations if they are to maintain their
competitive advantage. As we have seen, weaving the
Internet as a business tool into the fabric of a company
will lead to tremendous productivity gains. The Internet,
once thought of as a tool useful only to scientists and
university students, will become a standard, not only for
businesses, but for individuals as well.