Businesses of any size can use the internet to compete in the more-than-ever dynamic market environment. The internet is capable of putting together small companies and big companies, as it is open for anybody, from any location.
Most of the companies are present also on the internet, and the distance between consumers and companies is reduced to a simple virtual click. It allows potential customers to query multiple companies about their offers without having to contact them physically. Most of the times a simple visit to their pages is enough to find the required information.
Today, companies are reducing the costs by publishing offers and information on their sites. They don’t need a physical presence between customers. Now, conversations can take place by mail or instant messaging, without the expense of a phone call.
The most common reason to contact companies through the internet is documentation before acquiring products. If you purchased a car within the last few years, then almost for sure you searched on the internet for prices, offers, and technical specifications. If you had an exotic vacation this summer, then most probably you visited a site presenting the voyage and the attraction points. This is a first contact with the internet for businesses.
Also, the internet is the place to promote advertising, with or without the receiver’s consent - similar to distributing flyers to people on the street or in the pigeon hole. Of course, advertising through electronic mail is done to almost no cost - you need a computer, an internet access, and an electronic mail
account, frequently named email.
The businesses are not using the internet only in their contact with consumers and potential consumers, but also for their relations with banks, business partners, and governmental entities.
Many countries in the world are implementing programs of electronic governance, enabling businesses to submit their records and financial performance electronically. This way, the businesses present their status electronically, online, and at a later stage they can deliver also the hard copies of documents.
Today, all the banks are offering electronic transactions; it is much cheaper and convenient for businesses to check payments and incomes directly through online banking solutions. It means no visits to the bank. It means nobody spends time waiting in queues. It means that the person that has access to the bank account does not require physical access in the bank.
In business to business relations, the companies are using the electronic medium as a way to send documents, requests, ahead invoices, or to simply contact and negotiate from the intimacy of their own location.
Yet, adapting to the internet does not mean only accepting new ways of communication, but investing in protection. The electronic communication exposes companies to high financial risks. The way a company can make an electronic payment can be simulated by a third party and detouring founds in personal interest. Imagine that a third party found the credentials to the electronic transactions - this means electronic espionage.
Businesses, besides embracing the new technology to reduce costs, need also to invest in their own protection. The most common form is purchasing an antivirus and a spamming filter, and the second form is employing dedicated personnel to monitor and maintain the electronic infrastructure.
Organizations with more than 10 employees are required to have at least a person designated with the electronic security. The security personnel are responsible for watching the internet traffic, and to protect the business interests in case of electronic threats.
More over, more and more organizations and persons are acquiring authorized electronic signatures. Electronic signatures are similar to a regular signature, by confirming the authentication of the electronic document, but it is issued by an authorized certifier, in a way that the corporate stamps are issued and certified by the legal certifiers. Governments are adapting their legislation to create legal frameworks for digital signatures that are valid including in trials, like any other regular hand signature.