Impact Of The Internet
The Internet has revolutionized how business is conducted. Examples such as Amazon.com have shown that the large-scale provision of services or products is feasible in the absence of traditional stores. According to Plunkett Research, online retail sales in 2005 reached approximately $89 billion.
Telecommuting and Internet Use
The ability of consultants, graphic designers, writers, editors, and others to provide their services via the Internet, and of employees to perform some of their work from home has created a new business category: telecommuting. By 2003 twenty-eight million Americans already worked exclusively via telecommuting, according to Inside Business magazine. In the same year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Computer and Internet Use at Work in 2003 (August 10, 2005), 55.5% of American workers used a computer during their job, with approximately 40% of employed Americans using the Internet as part of their job.
E-Biz: Strategies for Small Business Success, a study published in 2002 by the SBA, reported that the gender differences associated with Internet use during the 1990s have disappeared. Now more women than men report using the Internet for both business and personal use. Among both men and women, about two-thirds of business owners report that they use the Internet for business. Approximately half of all business owners reported having a Web site for their business (50% of women; 54% of men).
E-mail is the most frequently used feature of the Internet among business owners. Thirty-six percent of women and 38% of men say they use e-mail very frequently. More than half of both men and women characterize their e-mail use as either occasional or somewhat frequent. Less than 10% of business owners say they never use e-mail. After e-mail, the most common reason that business owners say they use the Internet is to transmit files or documents; 22% of women and 25% of men report that they use the Internet for this purpose very frequently.
For most other business-related activities, including conducting fact-finding research, selling products or services, purchasing products or services, and seeking business opportunities, Internet usage is generally rated as occasional or somewhat frequent, if at all, by business owners surveyed by the SBA. The Internet capabilities least likely to be used by business owners include conducting online meetings (more than 80% say "never") and recruiting or hiring employees.
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