The expansion of the internet infrastructure across the world, coupled with the emergence of social media have proved influential in increasing internet coverage to much of the world, as against previously, where it was only largely available in the advanced economies. The growth in internet access has brought with an increased audience, which provides expanded markets for businesses, which have variously sought to exploit the new opportunities, Hussain & Hussain (2007). In addition, the emergence of the internet and a multiplicity of related innovations has been critical in boosting flexibility in the business models, while at once enhancing convenience on the customers’ end, with the introduction of innovative new ways of conducting business. These ultimately result into increased efficiency, while at once presenting newer challenges and the need for regulations to curb fraud and protect intellectual property rights among other considerations.
The key internet innovations that have changed the way of doing business, communication and social relationships include among many others, the emergence of social media, the growth in power and accuracy of search engines as well as the emergence and expansion of electronic commerce. Others include Telemedicine, virtual education and increased efficiency and scope of knowledge management in many organizations.
Social media refers numerous online practices and technologies used by individuals and groups to access and share experiences, content, insights and perspectives, Lucas (2003). The flexibility and freedom associated with social media has been the reason for the explosion of visitors and internet traffic on these sites. As a result, these sites have become the target of marketing efforts by corporations, representing an important strategic resource for the business, political and social engineers. There virtually countless social sites and media include Facebook, twitter, Google Plus and the professional networking site LinkedIn, Olthuis (2011). These have together ensured increased communication, access and effective management of online profiles, to the great benefits of individual users, professionals, corporations, political parties and governments among other users.
Search engines represent of the most critical internet innovations, which served to add even greater functionality to the already promising technological resource, Lehr & Pupillo (2009). With the emergence of Google and Bing, coupled with thousands of other search engines on the internet today, accessing internet content has been rendered multiply easier. Search engines endorse, match and rank internet contents, effectively helping users to easily sift through different contents. The major search engine types include Crawler based engines, human powered directories as well as hybrid engines, that combine the features of the different engines.
Search engines play a critical role in the access and processing of internet and information content, making the internet even more relevant and useful to the user, Lucas (2003). With the benefit of thousands of these engines, information is simply a click close, but with the growing needs of the users, there is an even increased need for specialized search engines to meet the specific needs of the users. These sites represent some of the most popular internet innovations, whose potential is virtually unlimited.
Electronic commerce has effectively automated most business transactions, resulting into the automatic access of product information, concluding purchases and arranging for the delivery of products online. The business model for electronic commerce sites are founded on ensuring efficiency, offering customized services and products, while at once lowering operational costs which in turn ensure lower prices for the customers, Hussain & Hussain (2007). It as well boosts back office integration for increased efficiency. There are varied technologies that facilitate this, include those that ensure security of client information and payment methods.
This refers to the provision of medical services and information by use of the internet and telecommunication technologies such as satellite communication, video conferencing and even telephone, Hedley (2006). The offer both real time clinical care as well as the collection, processing and storing medical information to help better cater for the patients’ health. Effectively, it is possible for doctors to remotely administer care including medical surgery on patients over great distances, which allows the better utilization of the available medical resources. Further, it makes it possible to provide care to remote communities and allow doctors, medical researchers and specialists to easily communicate and collaborate with one another. The major applications include telepathy, remote surgery, and remote diagnosis of diseases among others.
The emergence of the internet has revolutionized distance learning programs, rendering them more effective and suited to the needs of students and instructors. The quality of instruction and feedback has been multiply been enhanced, while scarce educational resources can now be best utilized. There are multiple virtual libraries online that are fast replacing the traditional libraries, while at once offering greater choice and customization. The internet offers freeware books, journal materials and other information that enhance distance educational programs. The possibilities for boosting the quality and scale of distance learning and the use of the internet to ensure the efficient delivery of education to students across the world are even more promising than are currently available. As is the case with telemedicine, this will render it possible to avail quality education to students in remote areas, while at once facilitating collaborative research work among scholars in differing fields.
The internet presents the best possible prospect yet for communication and business, but it is as well beset by multiple problems, not least because of the increased prospect of online fraud. Internet visitors are multiply faced with the threat of computer viruses, identity theft, as well as theft or abuse of their personal and financial information. IN addition, the difficulties with safety of payments are exacerbated by a difficulty in regulating the internet. Search engines help simplify search and ranking of content, but the explosion of internet presents an information overload, making a lot more difficult for unsophisticated users. The efficient regulation of the internet, coupled with the development of new technologies that will help boost the security of online transactions, while at once helping to boost the quality of the information as well as the ease with which such information can be accessed. The internet’s reliability in the future will proof to be its key recommendation in people’s social, consumption and political lives etc
Hedley, S., 2006, The Law of Electronic Commerce and the Internet in the UK and Ireland. London: Routledge.
Lehr, W., & Pupillo, M., 2009, Internet Policy and Economics: Challenges and Perspectives. Boston: Springer.
Olthuis, Cameron, 2011, Social Media: The Gold Rush of the 21st Century. Available at http://www.cameronolthuis.com/2007/09/social-media-for-firefox-is-sick/
Lucas, H., 2003, Strategies for Electronic Commerce and the Internet. Los Angeles: MIT Press.
Hussain, K. M., & Hussain, D., 2007, Telecommunications & Networks. London: Focal Press.