The Internet for Business Efficiency
The emergency of the internet and its expanded use in the recent years led to the development of newer and more efficient technologies in commerce and beyond. As more flexible technologies are discovered and expanded businesses across the world are increasingly applying internet based technologies to promote productivity and to enhance cost effectiveness. The outcomes of electronic commerce have shown its effectiveness in business growth and development. From SMEs to international corporations, the internet has found wide application in the business setting and continues to find even more applicability in financial handling (Jaw et al, n.d). While most of the impacts associated with the internet usage in business conduct, it also comes with some challenges which include negative security implications, particularly for data and limitations to those who cannot access the internet resources. Using the internet in businesses is thus a commendable approach and activity yet this cannot be accomplished without taking effective measures for protection against the risks and negative impacts associated with it.
The main objective of the ensuing paper is to discuss how the internet has impacted businesses, particularly in terms of improving efficiency and cost effectiveness. This must include consideration of the major risk of data insecurity accompanied by approaches for organizational protection against cyber insecurity. In particular, the paper touches on the “WannaDecryptor” worm, which has posed a serious threat to data security in the recent years.
The internet and Improved Business Efficiency
The emergence of internet technologies has improved business efficiency significantly in many ways. From Jaw et al (n.d), the internet has expanded the capacity of small and medium sized enterprises to internationalize. Various applications of the internet in businesses such as marketing, direct sales and communication have enhanced business efficiency to a large extent. Handling of employees and online business management processes including procurement and sales became easier with the initiation of internet based practices and an evaluation of businesses in the 20th century and now reveals that businesses have indeed become more efficient. The most affected aspect of business management in this regard is communication. Initially, the available communication channels were faced with challenges including the hindrance of physical space and time.
At present, various internet based technologies have enhanced interdepartmental as well as inter-business communication resulting in greater information sharing and more informed decision making. In addition to this, engagement in internet based communication practices makes it easier for businesses to conduct day to day activities within short time spans hence increasing the timeliness of decisions. This has resulted in better quality decisions across all economic sectors amidst small and medium sized businesses as well as large businesses (Batinic, 2013). Coordination of functions has become increasingly easier and has helped in doing away with time consuming bureaucracies which limit efficiency in the business sector. In addition to this, costs have also been significantly reduced due to the time decision making processes that are internet based. Initially, wrong decisions could have resulted in additional costs to organizations, something which has become history in the contemporary business dealings. Solutions to business problems are obtained as fast as possible due to the existence of easy and fast communication practices which also boost comprehensibility of the business conditions (Wymbs, 2011).
According to (Marston et al., 2011), Not only does the internet enhance business operations through communication but it also promotes data transfer. The internet provides flexible solutions to extant issues in organizational management. In businesses, knowledge management has been found to be one of the pillars of effective organizational performance, and organizations that have put in place strong knowledge management principles achieve greater growth compared to others. In particular, information is needed across all departments as well as across many business platforms. Businesses need information about their competitors in order to put in place strategies for maintaining competitive advantage. At the same time, information about general technological advancements is also necessary for businesses to enhance their practices where necessary. The internet fosters information sharing across departments while also enhancing the knowledge acquisition, transformation and sharing processes. Through internet based approaches, knowledge can be better managed and applied at the most appropriate times for effective business operations. Apart from the competitor and the market information, businesses must also acquire knowledge about their customer needs. It is only in this way that the deliverables of organizations can be fine tuned to the market needs and desires.
Furthermore, the internet has improved business efficiency through better management of data. Compared to the traditional filing approaches which were characterized by bulk and difficulty in data traceability, the internet has given way to opportunities such as the use of cloud computing to boost data management processes. Large volumes of data can be stored and accessed when necessary from internet based applications (Marston et al., 2011). This not only enhances organizational efficiency but also boosts the capacity of organizations to protect their data against loss and destruction.
The Internet and Marketing
Besides various aspects of data handling and communication, the internet has also enhanced business performance through expansion of marketing opportunities and techniques. Contrary to the traditional approaches where marketing depended on a limited choice of alternatives, contemporary marketing has been significantly expanded to include approaches such as social media marketing and internet marketing (Corley, Jordan & Ingram, 2013). These methods have a wider reach compared to the traditional approaches. They also help businesses to get a more personalized perception of the customers’ needs and thus to address them more efficiently. In turn, businesses deliver more satisfactory product as they can get more accurate feedback from the market. One disadvantage associated with is however is the openness of the marketing approach, which means that a customer’s response to a product via the public domain can influence potential customers in their decisions to purchase (Schibrowsky et al., 2007).
Various recommendations have been given for the application of the internet in marketing. For instance, the use of social media is aligned to practices and activities considered ethical. Creation of consumer communities around a brand is one of the approaches that have been advocated for significantly in the use of social media to market products and services. Revelation of confidential information on the other hand is a negative practice that can result in organizational destruction rather than growth. Through the commendable approaches, organizations can gain greater growth through increased efficiency and productivity. At the same time, most of these marketing approaches are cheap relative to the traditional televised and print media. In using these approaches therefore, the internet provides cheaper solutions to business operations (Nosrati et al., 2013).
Cyber security Concerns
While businesses can gain a lot through engagement in internet based business practices, the businesses are also faced with the challenge of handling cyber security threats. Every time an organization shares information through the internet or accesses information from the internet, the organization makes itself vulnerable to internet attacks. There are several approaches that attackers use against internet connected computers. For instance, attackers may steal, modify or destroy information that is essential or confidential to an organization. In particular, hackers have the ability to decrypt organizational security keys and gain access to information which they use to the disadvantage of the organization. Organizations have to be careful in ensuring that their information is well secured and cannot be accessed by unauthorized personnel. Hackers and malicious attackers may also use computer viruses to destroy or modify information in ways that are detrimental to the owner organizations.
In recent times for instance, one of the most harmful computer viruses has been in circulation. WannaDecryptor, also referred to as WannaCry, is a malicious worm that attacks computers connected to the internet, stopping their operations and presenting messages that require the users to pay a ransom of between $300 and $ 500 for their information to be decrypted (Goodin, 2017). The virus operates by encrypting all the information in the computer hence limiting access to it. For an organization to access its encrypted information, it has to pay the demanded ransom. Although short term solutions have been obtained before, the virus has many varieties hence finding a solution that can address all the varieties of the worm. In such cases, organizations are faced with the challenge of deciding whether to continue using the internet or not. Putting in place measures that will help identify, reduce and eliminate threats can go a long way in helping organizations to address the challenge of cyber threats.
Findings and Discussion
The internet has been shown to improve the efficiency of business operations through various ways. From its applicability to marketing through online sales and communication, the internet has proved to be a greatly beneficial resource to small and medium sized enterprises as well as to multinational corporations. The application of internet based approaches to business handling reduces the time expenditures on different practices, while also enhancing the effectiveness of decision making processes. Decisions made are more informed and conducted in a timely manner relative to the traditional approaches where communication took time and consumed more resources. In making efforts to improve business performance, organizations often seek to address the issues presented by the customers. Approaches to communication such as e-mails and direct internet based chats improve the problem solving efficiencies and ease hence addressing the customer and organizational needs more efficiently.
Besides the communication that occurs between organizational departments, other internet based communications have enhanced participation in online sales activities. Organizations in contemporary times offer their products and services via online platforms where customers can make selections, pay through online procedures and eventually have their products delivered at their convenience. As more people across the globe are becoming more aware of the internet and access to the internet is also increasing, companies that offer such online platforms are considered to be of higher value compared to other companies. It is easier for people to access such business and to correspond with the managers as compared to the physical businesses. Furthermore, such business operations reduce the risks involved in handling cash payments through opening channels for the use of online payment procedures. Based on this, businesses can be said to have resulted in more efficient running processes due to their ease of accessibility. On the customers’ side, the efficiency is felt in terms of reduced time expenditures in moving from place to place in search of the most appropriate products for their needs. In this case, customers can weigh between various options provided through different internet platforms without having to go to the physical locations of those businesses. This results in lower expenditures due to eliminated transport costs. All these are contributed to by the internet.
Furthermore, businesses have also experienced reduced barriers that result from long distances between businesses. For instance, initially, conducting business between different organizations in different physical locations was difficult due to the intensity of movement and labor involved. In the present times, the internet makes it easy to order for products online while also giving the buyers the opportunity to wait for their ordered products in remote locations. This has been further compounded by the role of the internet in marketing.
Marketing opportunities provided by the internet have also reduced business operation costs. For instance, through social media and direct e-mail marketing, the expenses incurred by businesses are limited. Payments made previously to produce print adverts as well as to produce televised media adverts have been reduced significantly as more businesses gain greater market access through the use of internet based media. Furthermore, efficient service delivery is also achieved by businesses through effective data management fostered by the internet. Various data management practices including data warehousing and cloud computing have also found wide application in the business environment, resulting in greater efficiency to the businesses and higher satisfaction to the customers. Record keeping efficiency is enhanced through cloud computing as the threats to the data are minimized. Factors such as computer crashes, bulk in hard copy data storage and limited memory space in computers are eliminated through investment in cloud computing practices. In this way, businesses can keep as much records and information as possible, and subsequently deliver more reliable data and services to customers. Through a review of past trends, businesses can be able to formulate strategic plans that help them in achieving better growth and profitability. From the outside in, this results in improved efficiency as well as better cost management. However, this also exposes the businesses to the challenge of cyber threats.
In the use of the internet, cyber threat forms the greatest challenge to business operations. Information theft, destruction or modification can pose challenges to business operations in various ways. For instance, stolen information can be shared with competitors resulting in business sabotage. At the same time, destruction of important organizational information can hamper data auditing as well as hinder decision making. There are organizations that can be completely paralyzed through denial of access to important information. It is on this principle that malware such as WannaDecryptor are developed. The malware limits shields organizations from accessing the information they need hence forcing them to pay ransom before decrypting the information back to the initial status. The activity of the worm is such that the data is taken hostage until a specified amount of funds has been remitted online through bit coins. Such threats can be addressed in a more wholesome way through implementing various practices that enhance information protection can help organizations to eliminate the threat of data insecurity. These involve approaches such as access restriction for unauthorized personnel, limiting hardware access and data sharing via online media. In particular, organizations have to put in place measures that will help in identifying and managing the risks while taking consideration of key properties of organizational data. This implies that whatever approaches taken by an organization in controlling data security threats has to ensure that the data remains reliable, accurate, authentic and valid for the organization’s use. At the same time, the organizations must fulfill requirements of secrecy, integrity, availability, key management and authentication of data both prior to and during use.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Based on the findings presented above, the objectives of the project have been achieved. The paper has satisfactorily described how the internet, through various practices has enhanced business efficiency as well as cost effectiveness. At the same time the paper has also cited the major threat in the use of the internet by businesses, which is cyber insecurity. Based on the study findings, businesses have continued to use the internet to achieve greater efficiency and growth in spite of the challenge of cyber insecurity. While most organizations have invested in marketing and communication activities based on the internet, only a few are pursuing e-commerce in spite of its benefits to the organizations. Through enhanced communication, businesses have increased efficiency by more accurate and informed decision making. Management has in effect become easier due to the ease of inter-departmental communication that is fostered by the internet. Not only do organizational departments communicate, but they also share information with each other, enhancing knowledge management and subsequent business operations. In addition to this, business efficiency is also enhanced through stronger marketing approaches that are also cheaper to the organizations. This, coupled with E-commerce has seen organizations grow in efficiency and cost effectiveness while also offering convenience to the customers.
While the internet provides sustainable solutions to the challenges of time, distance and efficiency in businesses, it poses a major threat to organizational data through cyber crimes. Administration of viruses such as WannaDecryptor to computers connected to the internet makes it risky to handle all organizational information via internet based technologies. Organizations can however address this challenge through measures that help them to identify threats, minimize them and eliminate them in case they arise. Such measures may include access restriction and frequent software updates to enhance authenticity of data. In whatever practice an organization undertakes, there must be measures to maintain the integrity, secrecy and other properties of data that make it usable to the organization.
From this discussion, it can be concluded that the study has satisfactorily accomplished its desired objective. However, the study was limited in terms of scope covered. For instance, each of the areas identified as parts of internet applications in the business environment is of a wide scope. As such, covering all the areas cumulatively has the potential of resulting in shallow results. It is therefore recommended that future studies should be fine- tuned to particular aspects of internet applications in business. For instance, focusing on the role of the internet in marketing can reveal more information about the concept compared to what is achieved in the present paper.
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