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. 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.
Effects of Technology on Business
Businesses have been at the forefront of technology for ages. Whatever can
speed production will draw in more business. As computers emerged in the
20th century, they promised a new age of information technology. But in order
to reap the benefits, businesses needed to adapt and change their
infrastructure [source: McKenney]. For example, American Airlines started
using a computerized flight booking system, and Bank of America took on an
automated check-processing system.
Obviously, now, most business is conducted over personal computers or
communication devices. Computers offer companies a way to organize dense
databases, personal schedules and various other forms of essential
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has an outdated, ugly Web site, it looks downright unprofessional.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.