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The Web and its Impact on Business & Society - Summing Up & Conclusions

The Digital Divide

Much has been said of the potential of technology to bridge national, social and economic differences and its potential to act as both liberator and equalizer. Much has been said of the global nature of the Internet's audience and participants. However, whilst 22% of the world's population has Internet access it is sobering to reflect that 78% do not. And this 78% are largely the poorest and least privileged.

There is thus a very real danger that, far from bringing liberty and equality, the Internet will increasingly disadvantage a very large number of the world's population as those with access will increase the gap. It is a matter of conscience for the technologically advantaged as to whether they wish to include their less privileged brethren in the brave new information world. It is a matter for the concerned to convince them that they should.

The Web and its Likely Impact - Conclusions

The emergence of the Internet represents a major new phase in human development, one in which potentially all knowledge is available to all citizens. It differs from other mass media both in its global nature and in that it supports participation from all with access, i.e. it is a truly many-to-many medium. The Internet is predicted to be as radical a development as the industrial revolution.

Internet access continues to expand rapidly, bringing both challenges and opportunities to both business and society as a whole. Its potential to liberate and generate greater equality must be balanced against the reality that 78% of the world's population does not have Internet access.

Smaller organizations and those with flatter structures are better able to adapt rapidly to the inevitable change of the information age. There is now a whole range of opportunities available to the small operation and lone entrepreneur.

The non-commercial origins of the Internet have created an expectation amongst 'net users of valuable content, free of charge. It is thus incumbent upon Internet content providers to persuade customers that their material is valuable enough to pay for and/or to obtain revenue from alternative sources, such as advertising.

As it becomes increasingly difficult to attain business success through pricing, or market share though physical convenience alone, differentiation through added value is essential to commercial success in the information age.

A further challenge comes from the difficulties in enforcing intellectual property rights over digitizable media.

The Internet is part of the irresistible trend towards globalization. The ease with which information may be transmitted and trade conducted across the 'net, transcending national borders, combined with the difficulties of any individual governmental regulation of 'net activity implies the inevitable diminishing importance of national borders.

© from Web to Wealth ( 2017