Introduction to Conducting Business Research on the Internet

Introduction to Conducting Business Research on the...

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THE MANAGER’S GUIDE TO BUSINESS RESOURCES AND RESEARCH ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB Chapter One Introduction to Conducting Business Research on the World Wide Web Dr. Kenneth N. Thompson University of North Texas College of Business Administration Denton, TX Draft April 15, 2011 Copyright Kenneth N. Thompson 2011
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This book is a comprehensive, yet concise, overview of the business information resources available on the Internet and how to best access these resources. The Internet, particularly the component referred to as the Word Wide Web, is fast becoming a major source of business information. Much of the business information previously obtained via libraries and commercial information services now is available on-line from a variety of Web sites. Commercial databases, research services and information brokers, newspapers, magazines, trade journals, government databases, and even sections of entire libraries now can be accessed via the Web. The number of web sites is growing at a phenomenal rate. Estimates are that the number new web sites doubles every 50 days! By 2001, the number of people using the Web will exceed 175 million! 1 More importantly, certain types of information that previously were very difficult, if not impossible, to collect via traditional means are now readily available on the web. For example, web sites dedicated to newgroups and chatrooms are rapidly expanding sources of word-of- mouth information on virtually any topic, business or otherwise. These sites are essentially electronic bulletin boards used by individuals to exchange ideas and carry on conversations. Business researchers can glean a wealth of information about consumer attitudes, product perceptions, social values, political views, etc. by monitoring these web sites. This kind of information is brand new -- made possible only by the existence of the Web. All types of information is now available at your fingertips! Equally important, and also unique to the Web, are business (or corporate) web pages. Many businesses use the Web for promoting products and services, public relations, providing corporate information, announcing new products, soliciting customer information, and handling customer complaints. Although these sites may offer some products for sale, their major purposes are promotion and public relations. Most firms still rely on traditional channel members (wholesale and retail intermediaries) for the majority of their sales. I do not intend to imply that the Web is unimportant for conducting financial transactions. Quite the opposite is true -- the use of the Web for electronic commerce (“e-commerce”) is growing nearly exponentially. Estimates are that e-commerce via the Web will exceed $200 billion annually by 2001, up from $2.6 billion in 1996. 2
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