Thanks to the rise of the internet, companies have found ways to improve major business functions to save money, get access to helpful information, boost performance and collaborate across borders. Along with using the internet to find information, communicate, make purchases and sell products, companies can take advantage of tools for accounting, marketing, supply chain management, human resources and staff management. Knowing the uses of the internet in business can help you make sure you take full advantage of the benefits this technology can offer your company.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
From using online tools for functions like accounting and marketing to conducting web research and storing important data, companies use the internet for just about every business area.
Better Business Communication
The internet has particularly impacted how businesses communicate with their staff, customers, vendors and other parties. You can use tools like Skype, Zoom and GoToMeeting to share information with employees, hold video meetings with clients around the world and share documents and presentations.
Online chatbots and social media websites make it easier for you to help customers around the clock, and translation plug-ins and services can remove communication barriers. Email has provided easy communication with any type of business party, and even telephone calls have become less expensive with the use of internet telephony.
Accounting and Financial Management
Modern cloud-based accounting software like QuickBooks and Wave Accounting helps companies to handle transactions in real time, back up important data, easily check for errors and automate routine tasks to save money. Running reports and analyzing financial data has become easier, and you also have less paperwork to store thanks to digital financial documents.
You can also often integrate these online accounting and finance tools with e-commerce platforms and internet banking for an even more streamlined experience for buying and selling, paying your staff and managing your accounts.
Use of E-commerce Platforms
Whether your business wants to expand or just get started without a physical storefront, the internet has brought many e-commerce platforms like Shopify and eBay that allow companies to set up online stores. Using these tools, you can easily upload information about products, set your pricing and begin advertising to customers around the world.
Online payment services like Stripe and PayPal mean you can receive instant payments or set up recurring subscriptions for your products and services. Along with integrating your online store with traditional shipping services, you can deliver digital products and services that require no shipping costs and arrive instantly.
At the same time, your business can use the internet to get the best deals on supplies, inventory and services. You can even negotiate online with vendors and explore different volume discounts. Integrating with inventory management software can even help automate your business purchases online.
Marketing and Advertising
One of the main advantages of the internet for businesses lies in how it has helped companies learn more about customers and create targeted marketing campaigns through channels such as email, social media and search engine ads. Your business can use online customer relationship management software like Salesforce to collect customer information, automate communications, monitor the success of marketing campaigns, provide customer support and gain the best leads.
Your website and social media platforms also provide a way to manage your brand's reputation and advertise products and services to the general public.
Supply Chain Management
The internet has also changed the production process. Your company can use software that optimizes the steps and determines when you need more items, while internet-controlled robotics systems can help you produce items faster.
When you need to refill parts or obtain other supplies, online systems that automate orders can help, along with logistics management platforms that can find the best suppliers and optimize routes to help you save money and meet your customers' needs. The internet also helps you manage your inventory thanks to technologies like real-time tracking tags you can put on items.
Human Resource Management
Thanks to job websites like LinkedIn and Monster and online hiring systems, your company can use the internet to advertise open positions, handle applications and sort through a wider pool of job candidates who may fit your needs. These tools can help you sort applications by looking for certain keywords or organizing by experience, education and skills.
You can use online tools to automate the interview scheduling process, send status updates to candidates and even handle the paperwork for new hires electronically. Video conferencing has made it easier to conduct interviews remotely, while screen-sharing tools mean you can do task-related exercises with potential hires.
When it comes time to train your new hires or teach new skills to current workers, you can take advantage of online training videos, courses and other materials. Not only will you and your staff find online training more flexible and accessible, but you can easily tailor training materials to fit each employee's skill level. The internet has also made participating in live training from experts around the world as easy as loading a web browser.
Staff Performance Management
Managers benefit from the internet in how it can help with managing employees more efficiently, handling staffing and monitoring performance. Assigning work has become easier thanks to online task management systems and conferencing tools, while managers can use automated scheduling tools to determine when and where employees are needed most throughout the week.
Online applications like Workday and SAP SuccessFactors make monitoring worker performance easier, as you can determine weaknesses by each department and then offer targeted coaching to those employees. You can also use online project management tools to assign tasks to your work teams and keep a close eye on progress.
Business Research and Analysis
You can also see the importance of the internet in business management in how it has made it simple to research competitors, stay on top of industry trends and manage complex data.
Along with doing manual searches online and using business databases, you can find decision support and business intelligence platforms that can show you real-time performance information and that feature helpful dashboards with key statistics for each department. Such tools can usually pull data from multiple sources so that you can make more informed decisions and respond quickly to changes in your company and industry.
More Uses of the Internet in an Office
Some more examples of the use of the internet in business include the following:
- Document-signing services: Whether you're signing a contract for a client or having employees complete a mandated form, online document-signing tools have eliminated the need to spend time and money printing paper forms and handing them out to individual employees. These tools ensure a secure signing process and allow you to manage your documents online.
- Physical security: From internet-enabled cameras that stream what's happening at your business to high-tech entry systems, the internet has helped give businesses more options for keeping their premises secure. You can also find security alarm systems with motion sensors that connect to the internet to send you mobile alerts as well as reach out to the authorities when needed.
- Administrative tools: Most businesses use productivity software such as Microsoft Office to handle daily tasks like writing business letters, designing presentations, sending email and entering data into spreadsheets. Modern versions connect to the internet so that the data can be stored in the cloud for employees to easily collaborate.
- Cloud storage: When it comes to storing and protecting your company's important data, you have online services like Dropbox, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft OneDrive to help you. Along with providing a place to keep documents for employees to access, you can back up data from many third-party applications or possibly even your entire hard drive.
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