The IT, Computer & Internet IndustriesThe information revolution is changing everyone's lives. Amazing advances in low-cost wireless technology and mobile smart phones are creating new opportunities and threats for all sectors of the economy. Information technology is changing the way we access business information, shop, share data, communicate, and promote ourselves. The high-tech computer sector is driving global financial markets, as well as changing the way we all work and play.
The computing industry has changed dramatically over the last 10 or 20 years. It has fragmented away from centralised mainframe architecture, to client server architectures. In a software driven world, many products and services depend on wireless-based cloud computing. It seems anyone can access anything, from anywhere. The huge advances in Internet technology are creating are a huge variety of software and internet services suppliers serving all sectors of trade and commerce. In an unstable economic environment, many software solutions are helping businesses cut costs and streamline processes. For many local small businesses, this means keeping up with how their Internet can help their own business.
Many traditional shops and businesses are seeing their margins eroded, and sales decline as consumers and businesses purchase cheaper alternatives online. New online markets are opening up all the time as the number of users with access to the Internet grows. How best to capitalise on this phenomenon? Knowing how much money to invest in online advertising can be problematic. As a solid starting point, it is always wise to include your company website in as many local and reputable business directories as possible. This maximises the possibility the company website will be found by local people. This is because many prospects search using a geographic town name, or 'allow location' services to be blended into search results from their PC, tablet or smart phone.
An increasing challenge is how to differentiate. Everyone seems to have a business website. Yet for small businesses it seems that just having a business website is not enough these days. The ability to promote that website effectively amongst intense local competition can be extremely difficult for non-IT literate business owners. Consumers look online to compare products, prices or get the phone number of a local supplier. There are many ways to generate new business sales using online advertising and social media marketing. These buzzwords may seem daunting and sometimes inappropriate (especially for businesses providers of community services who physically cannot sell over the Internet).
Social networking started as a teenage phenomenon. Social media marketing has now become a popular method for large businesses to communicate with customers and suppliers. It has supplemented much electronic mail that still drives marketing communications. Online business networks mean business owners can promote themselves and their company at remarkably little cost and to vast numbers of subscribers. There are many content management services which enable access on business information to research online social trends and advice on social media marketing.
The computer services sector provides many opportunities to outsource non-core tasks (from business web hosting, basic hardware maintenance, to 24x7 business applications telephone support). For many employees, consumers and business owners, having to muddle through online help systems or upgraded computer hardware or software applications can always feel like a bit of a chore. With so many suppliers of computer products and services available, it can be a bit of a minefield finding reliable and dependable service providers. Luckily, the huge increase in review based websites, it is a terrific way for new business start-ups to get fellow customer feedback on any dealings with a potential vendor or supplier.
The computing industry tries tremendously hard to provide some sort of consistency in the form of industry standards, associations and best practices. For example many web designers aim to keep up with WC3 recommendations. Similarly, computer consultants will be able to advise a small business on the best way to implement a new office computer system.
Of course, the internet is largely anonymous and unregulated. It can be hard to know whom you are dealing with. Owners of business domains must adhere to local privacy laws, distance selling regulations and advertising laws. So believing every sales and marketing claim or customer testimonial should be treated with a level of objective balance. If it seems to be good to be true it probably is!.