Business 101:How The Internet Changed Everything, Forever
Whether it’s a film or a novel, a writer needs to be mindful about how many tech references they include in their work, as the story can become amusingly outdated in a few short years, given the amazing speed with which technology progresses. In the mid 1990’s, the Internet was becoming commonplace, and the paranoia that certain people could use it for spying and manipulation was exploited in the Sandra Bullock thriller The Net, which, while being entirely a work of fiction, allowed the public to think about the awesome power of the relatively new medium. Of course, given the revelations that certain government agencies have in fact used the Internet to keep more of an eye on people than many think is appropriate means that the ideas explored in the film weren’t totally a fantasy. While the Internet can be used for clandestine purposes, it’s totally revolutionized the business world, and a huge number of companies operate exclusively in an online environment. So how exactly has the Internet changed the face of the business world- who are the winners, and who have been the losers?
A Village Lives, Another Village Dies
The Internet is often described as being like a global village, and this is apt, since it connects people in a way that was never before possible, although the village contains an irritating number of pop-up advertisements and adult content. The Internet has also greatly impacted upon the traditional notion of a village, in that you might not necessarily obtain a product or service from somewhere that’s local, since the Internet allows you to get something identical or at least comparable at a better price, even if it’s shipped to you from Latvia. It’s this unprecedented line of connection between businesses and their clients that has really changed the face of the way we obtain and consume products.
Just as video killed the radio star, a huge number of industries found themselves obsolete or in need of a radical change of direction in order to stay relevant and competitive as a result of the Internet. Travel agencies are becoming a rarer sight due to the influx of travel sites online, or the fact that customers can now book directly with airlines and hotels themselves. Those travel agencies that are still in the black are usually larger chains (who have downsized) or those that cater to a niche market. CD sales plummeted with the advent of iTunes and Amazon, and many retailers were forced to close, with media stores drastically reducing the amount of floor space dedicated to CD’s. Print Media was also forced to change, with a number of magazines and newspapers printing their last edition and others attempting to court online readers with unique digital editions and content.
E-Commerce sites have been the clear winner as the result of the proliferation of the Internet, and traditional retailers have embraced this concept by establishing an online presence, which has been highly successful, for the most part. And then there are the businesses that couldn’t exist anywhere but online. Mark Zuckerberg became a billionaire the moment Facebook went from a privately held company to a publicly listed one, and there a multitude of start up success stories who have successfully identified a niche and have exploited it, with companies such as AirBnb and Soundcloud being particularly notable. Other more unlikely industries have found online success, with design companies able to do their work remotely at a better price than what might be available locally, and you can get some great ideas about this on the Acrylicize site.
Since the Internet is in a state of ongoing evolution, it’s important for the business world to stay abreast of new developments and the best way to implement them. A flexible approach is needed; otherwise your industry might go the way of the dinosaur and the CD.
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