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Growth Factors

As the telephone revolutionized how we communicate, so does the Internet and other modes of communications such as wireless technology. Within the last ten years, we have seen a fast and steady progression in communications between corporations and between individuals. The first stages were businesses interacting increasingly with the consumer. It became easy for companies to provide information and interaction with users through their Internet presence. At first, it was just displaying information on a static Web site—it was basically putting all their hardcopy marketing material on a Web site for the consumer to read through. As each company registered its domain name and linked it to a Web site, it became easier for the consumer to find the information she needed. This was not true “e-commerce.” It was more like “e-information.” Disseminating information to consumers over the Internet became easier. Companies have taken the information dissemination to the next stage, which is personal customizations of products and services a company can provide to the consumer. These customized products and services are based on data collected from hundreds of sources. True e-commerce developed between the company and the consumer and between companies. Companies could automate processes and transactions between each other, share information, and better serve the consumer. The consumer has the new, vast capabilities of giving direct feedback and providing information for customized services from the corporation.

When you buy a product on the Internet, say a digital camera, you get complete information about it, research it beforehand, and find every possible comparison that can help you make a decision. CNET information on digital cameras was found in less than 1 minute (see Figure 1.1). After you make a decision and a purchase, your confirmation via e-mail informs you that everything went well with the transaction. You can have your purchase shipped the next day to your home or office, and you can go to the shipping company's Web site and track the product's progress to your doorstep. If you have complaints about it when it arrives, you can e-mail all sorts of people, from within the company to the Better Business Bureau. If you need to return the product, you can ship it back the next day and have your credit card automatically credited. Of course, the company can now send you e-mail blasts about products you might like based on your shopping preferences. Isn't that nice of them? Every step of the process is filled with information and communications made possible by the widespread use by both the consumer and corporation of Internet technologies. e-Commerce has been driven by the ability to make money while new technologies are expanding the methods of making money.


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