Many organizations use intranet and extranet

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Many organizations use intranet and extranet technology. For example, rather than merely listing names and phone numbers, intranet phone directories can also include a photograph and job description for each employee. Applications Business Uses for Networks Businesses can use networks for a wide variety of purposes, including the transmission of messages, the communication of data, hosting virtual meetings, and conducting electronic com- merce. The most common application of networks is electronic mail (e-mail) capabilities that allow employees to communicate with one another, customers, suppliers, or partners electronically rather than using older methods such as faxes, phone calls, inter-
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Page 3 EBSCO Research Starters ® • Copyright © EBSCO Information Services, Inc. • All Rights Reserved Networks in Business office mail, or surface mail. E-mail also allows messages to be broadcast to a number of recipients simultaneously. This capa- bility is advantageous from a business standpoint because it cuts down on the time that the sender needs to transmit the message multiple times, gets information into the hands of a large number of recipients quickly and simultaneously, and facilitates the work of groups. In addition to sending text messages, e-mail also allows senders to transmit documents, video clips, photographs, drawings, and other information as attachments. Some email providers, such as Google, even have their own drives (Google Drive), on which a network of people can edit documents in real time. This reduces the need to make and distribute hard copies and also allows groups to work or comment on common docu- ments together, reducing the need for coordination. Messages can also be transmitted via voice mail, in much the same way as one would leave a message on a telephone answering machine. Voice mail messages can be stored, replayed, or broadcast to multiple recipients. Virtual Workgroups Such electronic capabilities make the job of the individual employee easier and facilitate communications across the enter- prise. Networks can be used to facilitate virtual meetings and virtual teams and workgroups in which the members are geo- graphically or organizationally dispersed and members interact primarily through communication technology rather than meet- ing face-to-face. This use of network technology can save the enterprise money associated with travel costs as well as with costs associated with moving expenses or hiring. Virtual teams can incorporate members of the enterprise and also its partners through extranet technology. Through videoconferencing (vcon) and online collaborative tools like Skype and WebEx (Davis, 2012), employees or colleagues who are geographically dis- persed can participate in a meeting without the inconvenience or expense of travel. In addition, meeting participants can share documents, images, and even product demonstrations without the need for a face-to-face meeting. Even if some of the meet- ing or workgroup participants do not have vcon technology, they
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