E-business refers to the integration of electronic technology in business functions. It includes the use of computers and digital networks for internal operations as well as the Internet for communication and e-commerce. The evolution of businesses toward increasing e-business functions dates from the widespread use of personal computers in the 1980s and the development of the commercial Internet in the 1990s. This evolution is ongoing as e-businesses transition to mobile technology.
E-business evolution has allowed companies to go from storing data on paper in physical filing cabinets to digital storage of much more data on servers. Electronic storage and processing has allowed companies to increase both the volume and speed of data storage and processing. Forecasting that used to be done manually with calculators is now rapid and more extensive using spreadsheets and dedicated computer programs. Businesses store data on customer interactions and can access this data quickly. Future evolutionary trends are toward more data stored in the cloud.
The Internet has become a key e-business technology. Evolving from a military and educational network to a commercial Internet in the early 1990s, the basis of websites and e-commerce was set with the development of the browser Netscape in 1994, and the founding of Amazon and eBay in 1995. The largest companies all have an Internet presence, and many offer goods and services for sale on their websites. As the Internet continues to evolve, even small businesses that don’t have their own websites will develop them. With mobile devices generating more Internet traffic, websites have become increasingly mobile-friendly, with dedicated mobile apps allowing smartphones and tablets to access information.
New electronic technologies have transformed communications in business. E-business evolved from pre-electronic paper mail, wire transmissions, and teletype to email, texting and fax, with the latter now on the verge of obsolescence. On the telephone side, long distance calls became substantially less expensive and Voice over Internet Protocol calls can be completely free to any Internet connection. New technologies like Skype and Google Hangouts make free video conferencing possible. Companies use these new e-business technologies to communicate more intensively with their employees and customers, and even to save on travel expenses for in-person meetings.
A new sector of business has evolved around digital products that are downloaded from company servers via the Internet. E-business products such as e-books and MP3 tracks are suitable for delivery in this way. Apple’s iTunes store and Amazon’s Kindle are examples of successful e-businesses based on digital products. The software market is evolving into an e-business model where companies offer applications for downloading and no longer sell the programs on CDs or DVDs. E-businesses based on digital products have lower costs associated with manufacture and delivery, while companies have been able to maintain prices at higher levels, increasing profitability.