The Internet enables airlines to provide online flight booking, banks to offer online account management and bill pay and allows any company to sell any product online. In general, the Internet has proven to be an inexpensive way to reach more customers. Nowadays, if you can't find a business online, or if it has an outdated, ugly Web site, it looks downright unprofessional.
Many businesses have succeeded in using the Internet as their primary, or sometimes only, medium. (You're, of course, aware of this, given that you're reading a HowStuffWorks article. HowStuffWorks started as a hobby for college professor Marshall Brain, and it eventually grew into successful company.)
Small businesses, too, have become easier to start up using the Internet. If you're a stay-at-home mom who makes a killer batch of cookies, you can easily sell them over the Internet and ship them to your customers.
But, it's not always as simple as it sounds. Any business conducted online must consider security, privacy or even copyright issues. Copyright issues would include making sure your business doesn't use someone else's original work (such as a logo, for instance) or even making sure no one else is profiting from your business's creative work.
One of the biggest ways the Internet has changed business is through targeted advertising. Using Google, companies can specify the keywords that will drive certain customers to their ad. For instance, if you were to plug the word "baking" into Google, you might click on a page from epicurious.com. That epicurious page will have Google ads from sponsors who sell baking-related products. A company that sells rolling pins can pay to have its ads show up for people who search for specific words, like "baking," "pies" or "dough." It makes good business sense -- people who search for "baking" on Google will be much more likely to click on a rolling pin ad than the average person.
Despite what we've discussed in this article, we haven't even scratched the surface of what new technology can do for business communications. The next page provides links to even more articles on information technology and products that have business implications.