In past several years, the internet has become a primary requirement for all. The internet has helped businesses flourish. Its importance is so significant now, that doing business without internet has become inconceivable.
In any business, "Customer is King". Customer on-boarding or acquisition is a crucial step for businesses. Internet can play a big role in the customer accusation part. The social media platforms can a great tool in the arsenal of the business houses, especially the small ones. Posting original content, chatting with customers, creating an online brand, etc. can be an easy way to engage with the online community, and is a great way to expand brand awareness. Email marketing campaigns are another great way to connect with the customer base.
These new technologies are helping to improve customer relationship management as well.
Targeted marketing through internet and social media platforms has been beneficial for the businesses. Artificial Intelligence and Big Data analytics can used to reach the customers who are more likely to buy the product or service a business offers. It is possible to reach specific customers based on age, gender, area, etc. using social media platforms. Publishing advertisements in newspapers or television for mass may not work effectively, whereas advertising by targeting the specific market would reach the right customer as it carries a precise message that caters to that customer group. This targeted advertisement using internet is cost effective as mass marketing does not always be fruitful.
The customers' time and money could be saved for using such techniques too. Now, customers can skip or search for definite goods as per their requirements. Pop-up advertisements on internet based on suggestions by the social media are helping both customers and buyers. All these are possible because of internet; that is why digital marketing is becoming more and more popular among businesses.
Data communication through intranet is also helping to make businesses more efficient and customer-friendly. Its usage is now more prevalent than ever. Data communication is helpful to those businesses that have multiple branches or points of presence. It is facilitating all branches of the same business or its associates/dealers/franchisees to access the same resource from a central database and also letting everyone to update, share and add information as and when required. This drives productivity and efficiency and improve the quality of their customer service.
The Cloud Computing on internet is a blessing for all businesses, especially the SMEs. As one does not have to incur a capital expenditure or worry about the maintenance cost of hardware, cloud platforms are very much cost-effective and friendly for the cash-flow of any business. This also enables businesses to work in a collaborative manner.
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen the dramatic rise of internet usage mainly due to 'work-from-home' or remote working. Using the power of internet, businesses decisions can be made over online meetings. Banking, telemedicine, online classrooms, virtual courtrooms and so on kept our lives and the economy going during the lockdowns last year. Team works are happening smoothly and helping to create a bridge among the coworkers. Using internet, we can now save time, money and energy because we can skip traveling from one place to other reducing traffic-jams and polluting the environment less. The businesses are taking advantage of these lowered expenses including the requirement of reduced physical workspace.
Hiring the right professional for the business has also become easier using LinkedIn and other job sites. This usage of internet has helped reduce the cost of advertising for vacancies.
Software as a Service (SaaS) is another newer model of internet use by which businesses, especially the smaller ones, can lower their expenses. SaaS model allows users to access and use the software on subscription basis – there is no need for any capital expenditure on buying the software upfront or procuring the necessary hardware to run the software. The software can be used through any cloud platform as and when needed. Businesses that can harness this properly can excel in financial management.
Bangladesh has seen the increase of smartphone users in the last few years. It is now easier to take one's business to the customers using the power of internet. There was a time when businessmen used to wait for customers to visit their stores. Now, rather than waiting for customers to visit, businessmen are taking products and services to their customers through mobile apps. Today, it is not required to have a store or decorate it in an eye-catching way. The internet allows to have virtual stores with attention-grabbing features on the worldwide web. This has resulted in notably increased business and less effort for marketing.
Data collection has become easier than ever as a lot of data is being generated every day. Business Intelligence (BI) and data analytics are being used to staying one-step ahead of the competition. When customers visit online store, they generate data. Even if there is no purchase made the data of the customer can be stored. It is possible to track the customer's check-in time, age, gender, product-choice and later suggest products in future advertisements using the power of internet. Using such data, businesses can change and update their strategies and plans.
By harnessing the power of internet, businesses can become more profitable. At the same time, it is obligatory for the businesses to protect the privacy of the customers' information by ensuring proper security measures. The government must provide a robust nationwide infrastructure so that businesses all over the country can take advantage of internet and consumers can access and avail of the services offered by the businesses. A fast, affordable internet service can successfully create a digital economy and build the coveted Digital Bangladesh.
Syed Almas Kabir is the President of BASIS and Director of FBCCI