Internet Business 

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 Internet
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 worldwide .

Building a 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 potential.
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.

Manufacturing 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.

Overall Benefits
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.

References : 
Terry Bernstein, Anish B. Bhimani, Eugene Schultz, Carol A. Siegel, Internet Security for Business, Wiley Computer Publishing, John Wiley & Sons Inc, 1996

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