Business was once conducted by barter. Money was invented to make it easier but business was still conducted face-to-face. Then along came the telephone and buying and selling could be carried out at the end of a cable. People no longer had to actually go to the market. E-commerce is an extension of that cable. These days you can conduct business without in reality handling goods or cash.
But e-commerce is much more that merely a substitute for traditional shopping. E-commerce operates from business to consumer and business to business. Amazon is a typical example of business-to-consumer e-commerce, but buying and selling stocks & shares and managing your bank accounts also fall under this category. Business-to-business e-commerce goes further and includes electronic data exchange or interchange (EDI), a speedy, automated system of information exchange between companies who work closely together. Another example is standardization of specifications within a given field, for ease of price calculations in a competitive market.
E-commerce is an ideal medium. Sending data over a network is more efficient and much faster than “traditional” methods and thus, far more cost effective.
This is really nothing more than using the Internet and its related technologies to conduct normal business operations. Whether in advertising, sales, purchasing, human resources, marketing or management, the Internet can be used to increase productivity, reduce costs and thus increase turnover. In other words it’s a management tool. And what’s more, it’s a management tool that is accessible to all businesses, whether a one-man-operation or a large corporation.
E-banking or net banking
This is one of the management tools of e-business. It provides efficiency for banks and businesses and convenience for individual customers. All banking functions can be carried out via the Internet: checking the status of accounts, transferral of funds between accounts, carrying out financial transactions, even using the account for online purchases.
However one concern remains– security
The Internet is a huge advantage, but as it is so public, security remains very much an issue on which much effort has been and still is being expended.
The most common breach of security is information gathering, usually without your knowledge. For example with:
When using a browser to surf the Internet, a cookie is a small file set to and from the browser so that the website can track your movements on that site – perhaps as a registered customer. In this way cookies are useful. However, they can also be used to track your web movements to provide information to others, such as details of websites you visit, purchases made, where payments have been made by credit card. Cookies can be disabled with the advantage of preventing some websites from gaining information, but the disadvantage is that many websites work better using cookies.
Once you start using e-mail you’ll soon be unable to imagine life without it. Not only can you send and receive texts, but also attachments with pictures, sound documents and even video clips. Unfortunately very often some of these attachments are unwanted to the point of being illegal. In addition, viruses that can destroy computer data can be spread via e-mail.
· Install a fire-wall programme to reduce the risk of hackers gaining access to your computer and protect it from Internet-borne threats such as spyware.
· Install an anti-virus programme so that your computer recognizes and eliminates any infected data received.
· Install an anti-spyware programme to recognize and eliminate any spyware which will get through.
· A simple tip: if you receive a suspicious e-mail attachment, drag and drop it on to the computer desktop and with a right mouse click scan it with your anti-virus programme.
· Be generally very cautious about giving personal details online.
· If you want to go a stage further, there is software which allows you to “surf the web anonymously”.
Some safety systems
EFT: Electronic fund transfer. Electronic transfer of value.
Encryption: Encoding data so that only the desired recipients can decode and read it. It provides protection when transmitting sensitive data.
SET: Secure electronic transactions. A standard for safe e-commerce developed by credit card providers and others.
TLS: Transport Layer Security a widespread security and privacy mechanism for the web.
The effect of Internet on business
We’ve all heard the saying “It’s a small world”. Internet has indeed made the world even smaller and brought people closer. Perhaps not physically, but certainly in a virtual sense. With its communication advantages, the Internet revolution has touched practically every aspect of our private and professional lives. There is no doubt that its effects will grow. Communication costs will reduce. Travel time and costs will reduce as electronic data transfer increases. Information availability will explode even further and education will be available to remote areas. Trade via Internet will rapidly increase. The market will expand and be easier to reach. Decentralisation of the work place may even eventually reduce or eliminate rush-hour traffic. But new problems will undoubtedly appear, some of which are already affecting us. Internet security and privacy. New Internet rules and regulations. Unwanted data. Terrorist propaganda…..and and and...
One thing is for sure – this is just the beginning!