The Internet may be a part of your everyday life, but can you remember life before the Internet? Before e-mail, file sharing and Facebook? Early users included Jimmy Carter, who used e-mail in his presidential campaign. Academics and non-business users were the primary players in the 80s. The worldwide web was born in 1990, and in five short years it had 16 million users and hundreds of Internet-based businesses.
The Internet changed how you communicate, shop and spend your free time. When was the last time you set pen to paper to write a letter? There’s no need, with email and texts. You may love to shop for pleasure, but when you really need something right now, the Internet will bring it to you with ease. The explosion of online travel sites has allowed you to explore, plan and book all the details of your vacations.
The office has seen major changes due to the Internet. Though file cabinets may always be a part of the office furniture, storing documents online has not only made retrieving them easier, but sharing them with business partners around the world takes seconds with e-mail.
File sharing is a breeze with SlideShare, a company where you can upload and share PowerPoint, Keynote and other slide shows. The files are hosted publicly or privately. They can be embedded on other sites, or viewed on SlideShare. And you can now send and upload files from your home office – especially since your company doesn’t have a brick and mortar presence, thanks to the Internet.
Many industries have seen their primary ways of doing business change drastically because of the Internet. Do you remember when it seemed a big step up to have drive-up bank tellers? Using those cylinders to shoot your checks over to a teller from the comfort of your car felt luxurious. Now, online banking almost eliminates the need to leave your house for banking. You can manage all your accounts online, and your bank lets you cash checks online, assuming you even use checks. With online bill-paying services, paper checks are becoming scratch paper.
The world of logistics – moving stuff around – has been greatly impacted by the Internet. The process of tracking shipments from manufacturer to consumer has enhanced the business greatly. Remember the last time you received an e-mail stating your package was on the delivery truck? This is just one way the Internet is improving logistics.
Companies now have automated shipping, on-the-spot traffic assessment and diversions, temperature control for special products, and better inventory management. Drones and driverless vehicles that will deliver products to your door are just around the corner. Logistics industry leader David R Kiger has been successful in meeting the shipping needs of small businesses. His success comes from adapting to the many changes in technology that impact logistics.
Many of you still say there’s nothing like the feel and smell of a book. Going to the bookstore on new release day is a beloved ritual. But the book selling industry has been drastically changed by the Internet. You can study a book’s plot before buying, get book club recommendations, and have an online bookseller deliver as many copies as you want, used or new, to your door.
And these are small things. Booksellers are losing bricks and mortar ground, and they are having to digitize books to remain viable. If you are going on vacation soon, you can load up your tablet or e-reader with hundreds of books, many of them free. If you want to look something up in the encyclopedia, you may have to do it online, since hard copies are going out of print.
On the bright side, if you want to see a priceless book that resides only in Dublin, you can read it online. If you finally finished your first novel, you don’t have to face rejection letters from publishers – you can simply self-publish and sell it online.
There are many more examples of how the Internet is changing business. You check your email, not your postal mailbox. You can buy any song and watch almost any movie anytime you want. You can see the news happening live all over the world with the click of a mouse. The Internet continues to change your world in big and small ways, and you can be a part of it by learning about and incorporating these great new technologies into your personal and professional lives.