The very fact that your reading this right now is proof of how much the world has changed in such a few short decades. Books were really the only medium in which to read. Now, there are millions of blogs around the world. Tablets have made the task of accessing content previously reserved for paper infinitely easier. But it’s not just viewing content that has changed with the advent of the web, the way we work has changed forever too.
Automation and efficiency
The online world has allowed our businesses to become far more efficient than they previously were. Take the world of banking for example. Most of us will probably have apps on our phones which allow us to move money from account to account, something we would have had to go into a branch to do, which would have taken time, fuel and patience in those really long queues. And for the banks themselves, they have very sophisticated internal systems which rely on the internet, to make billions of transactions around the world on a daily basis. This type of automation has led to an increase in productivity and cost savings in the long term.
Our own industry is feeling the benefits from online business. Look at companies like Door-Stop for example. Their introduction to the composite door market with their immense IT systems and online ordering transformed the way the door sector operates. Their automated system of ordering doors online, being able to track their progress, make changes etc has made the life of installers ordering doors so much easier, and is probably saving Door-Stop a ton of money and time too. This online ordering has now spread to all corners of the industry, helping us become more efficient and modern in how we go about our business.
Pre-internet days, networking involved face to face meetings and plenty of phone calls, even the odd fax! And whilst face to face meetings and phone calls will always remain an important idiosyncrasy in our line of work, the internet, and more specifically social media has changed the way our industry interacts with each other.
Networking is now an instant, 24-7 activity, with new people and already established profiles interacting with each on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and others. It’s free, real-time and in the right place at the right time, can win you some extra business too. I am highly critical though of businesses who fail to believe in the power of social networking. I don’t care how old you or your business is, it HAS to play a part in your overall marketing plan, if not make up a a large chunk of it. Almost everyone has a social network account of some sorts, which means if you don’t, you’re not connected to potentially thousands and thousands of important people and businesses.
Outside the workplace
One of the most interesting factors that the internet has introduced is it’s potential outside the workplace. The internet has allowed everyone the ability to create their own business, even if they have a day job.
I myself have been able to exploit this. My day job is working for the family business selling windows and doors to the general public. However, I have been able to set up and grow this very site, and even establish the National Fenestration Awards! My time outside the family business and my knowledge of the internet have allowed me to get these two other projects off the ground. And this is being replicated by thousands and thousands of us around the UK. You’ll find more and more now that people run small side businesses at home and in their spare time, whilst having a main day job. It was always possible of course to run a small side business without the internet a few decades ago. But what the internet has done is it has made that task a whole lot easier and more efficient, to the point that we can have more than one side business.
One things is crystal clear, the internet is now the single most important tool in our businesses, and the UK economy in general. It runs everything. It works everything. We rely on it for everything. If it disappeared, many businesses would disappear with it.