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"Been there, done that, now what?"


During the beginning of 1996 I wrote "DOING BUSINESS ON THE INTERNET" AN INTRODUCTORY SEMINAR ON HOW TO USE THE INTERNET. (For information on this document, or some of the other internet related documents which are available, refer to the contact information section for additional resources).

That introductory document was written to supplement the information provided at many of the seminars, workshops and training programs which I have presented to various businesses and organizations. My intent was to answer some of the basic questions which everyone seems to have about using the internet.

But, as I have told thousands of seminar attendees, "The internet changes from moment to moment." and I find that there is additional information I would like to convey to people interested in utilizing the internet. Rather than revise the introductory document, I thought it would be easier to create a supplemental version: "THE NEXT STEPS,...". It is designed to be used in conjunction with the first document, and provides more specific information on some of the topics which have been identified during many of my presentations.


If you are like me, you fought against use of the internet thinking that it would be best to wait until things "settled down". Then, something happened which forced you to begin using the internet. The motivating factor might have been a need to access information which was unavailable anywhere else but on the internet. Or, the inability to communicate with various people/organizations unless you had access to the internet. In either case, the "jump" was made, the internet began to become a fixture,.....and now all of us need to learn how to make the best use of this tool.

This is exactly how I got started! I began with access via America OnLine®, and utilized the sources of information which were made available to me. I began to communicate with the various organizations which I could only communicate with via the internet (forums and e-mail).

The transformation occurred when I began to venture out on my own and explore the internet. There were millions of people out there, representing sources of information, potential customers, competitors, etc. It now became simplistic to perform research, communicate globally, advertise and/or market specific products and services.

It took me a few months to realize one of the first, most significant benefits of my use of the internet. My telephone bill for calls and faxes began to plummet! My postage bills also began to plummet. Since I do a great deal of work nationally and internationally in the Former Soviet Union, these 2 expense items had always seemed to be astronomical. Now, they were almost non-existent.

It no longer became necessary to communicate with people during their normal working hours, which can tend to be inconvenient when dealing with international time zones. I no longer needed to wait for the delivery of mail before soliciting a response. I no longer needed to broadcast fax documents, or, individually fax similar documents to various people.

What I had learned, or should I say what I had failed to anticipate, is that the internet had allowed me to easily, effectively and cost efficiently perform many of my business activities. But, I still had much more to learn.

Maybe this is why I'm writing this document, and why I distribute it to almost every business I come in contact with. Use of the internet provides an opportunity to become phenomenally efficient and effective. It will (should) transform the way you do business, learn and interact with others.

But, something this great does not come without pitfalls. Everyone understands that Rome was not built in a day, and neither should your internet programs. There is much to be learned, numerous configurations to identify, hardware/software interfaces, personnel and financial requirements, and many other issues.

The internet is a tool, and you need to learn how to use this tool before expecting something positive to happen. Approach your use of the internet with the same due diligence that you would approach any other business activity. Use the internet to do something, rather than letting "it" do something to you.

If you are successful in transforming the way you think and the way you operate your business by utilizing the internet as a tool, you will discover that almost anything is capable of being accomplished.

This document, THE NEXT STEPS,... is designed to provide you with some additional information about how to make the best use of the internet, and how to plan for some of the potentially problematic issues which will most certainly arise as you venture into cyberspace.

As always, I highly recommend that you research the numerous books and publications which are available identifying various aspects of the internet. Needless to say, you should begin to browse the internet, looking for applicable sources of guidance. These resources have been an excellent guide for me, and have allowed me to approach use of the internet from a much more informed perspective.

Also, I suggest that you discuss your use of the internet with other people who are using the internet. I have found that internet users usually go out of their way to warn other internet users of the "nightmares" and "horror stories" regarding their problematic experiences. They also provide some excellent tips on how to facilitate use of the internet.

But most of all, don't ignore the needs and comments of potential end-users (your target markets). They will be able to provide you with valuable information about what they look for when accessing the internet. They will be able to tell you what doesn't work and what they don't like. They will most likely be able to give you a list of all the things not to do with your internet program, or, some things which might make your internet program better than those which are currently in place.

Finally, effective use of the internet will allow you to accomplish just about anything. There are infinite possibilities. You must be creative in your approach, and relentlessly analytical in the evaluation of whatever internet programs you implement.

Use of the internet can be beneficial as well as detrimental to the success of your business or organization. You need to harness it's resources, and control it's use. You need to use the internet with specific goals and objectives in mind. Merely interfacing with the internet is not a certain guarantee for success, and a poorly planned use of the internet might result in negative perceptions of your business. A poorly planned use of the internet might also result in serious financial, operational and personnel problems.

So,... be brave,... be bold,.... become informed,.... then be creative! You might be surprised at what you can accomplish with the internet!

I look forward to discovering YOU on the internet!

Mark S. Deion
Warwick, RI June 1996

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So, maybe you started your internet use with one of the primary national services (America OnLine®, Compuserve®, Prodigy®), and have moved on to a local dial-up ISP (Internet service Provider) or a national ISP. You've played around with some of the data bases available, checked your stock quotes, read a newspaper or magazine online, and maybe you've even looked yourself up using one of the search engines.

What are the people on the internet like, what are they using it for, and how do you "get there from here?" The following profiles identify a few basic types of internet users, maybe you'll find yourself described in one of them.

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1. Browsers

A majority of the users currently on the internet merely browse, looking at whatever they find. Sometimes, they actually try to find something they're interested in. They participate in the chat rooms and news groups. They go to specific home pages to read articles, play games, view pictures, etc. They might actually explore the use of e-mail, sending messages to their friends and associates, thinking that it is a "cool" way to avoid long distance telephone bills.

For many of these people, and I tend to call them browsers, the internet has not drastically altered their lives or the way they do business. For them, the internet is a form of entertainment, a diversion, something to "do". If this is your level of involvement with the internet, enjoy the amount of fun you can have with this innovative tool.

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2. Researchers

For this group of internet users, the internet has opened up a vast resource of information. They use the internet to research potential customers and existing competitors. When market research or product data is required, they tend to log on to the internet for the answers. For them, the internet has become the answer to all of their questions.

One of the basic things these researchers have done, is learn how to utilize the various search engines available on the internet. They have discovered a tool for using the tool. Kind of like a ready-made instruction manual.

There are numerous search engines available on the internet, each one of them providing access to specific types of information. One might chose to use one search engine to seek out a specific commercial site, whereas, they might use a different search engine to seek out a scientific report on a particular chemical substance.

Just as there are different types of dictionaries, encyclopedias and glossaries; specific search engines can tend to be just as topic specific. Although, there are a few search engines which are all encompassing, and review every site on the internet. But, a search resulting in 10,000 possible related sites might not be the best use of this type of search engine.

The basic change in the thought process of these types of users, is that the internet has now become a valuable source of information. It is timely, cost efficient, and indispensable. Although an evolutionary step has been taken, the information gathered from the internet is usually used by these researchers in their day to day activities in the same traditional way it has always been used. The only major change which has occurred is that the ability to access information has become more efficient.

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Cybernaughts (Webaholics)

These people have (or are in the process of) fully integrating and assimilating the use of the internet for just about every activity in their lives. They use the internet for entertainment. They use the internet for research. They use the internet to communicate. And they use the internet to create interactive sites enabling them to perform just about any kind of transaction of a personal or business nature.

These people no longer answer the same question twice, they create a FAQ's file (Frequently Asked Question) and refer people to these sites for the answers.

They tend to distribute a great portion of their marketing information via the internet, either on a web site for the world to access, or directly to those people whom they have e-mail addresses for. They implement internet programs which allow them to conduct almost every aspect of business on the internet.

They develop their competitive strategies by accessing "real time" information about their prospects, competitors, or the local and global economy.

They have implemented the "TMN" relationship theory. This theory asserts that everything is related to: Time, Money, and Numbers. By definitively identifying the relationship of a specific activity to each of these 3 categories, one should be able to make the most effective and efficient use of available resources, resulting in the most optimum performance level. Additionally, by identifying the relationship between these 3 categories for a specific activity, one is able to develop anticipatory plans for just about any situation.

Cybernaughts have taken their use of the internet to an all-inclusive level. They have even begun to create internal company web sites, or as they are better known, intranets. The technology of the internet which allows a user to communicate with infinite global resources, can also be used to harness and direct the internal and external activities of a company. Instant access to data using intranets enables a company to definitively leverage all of their resources.

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"But will it make me a million bucks?"

"Lost profits aren't much different than lost revenues!"

Many people have hesitated making use of the internet because they haven't been able to conceptualize what new financial benefits will be realized by implementing an internet program. Invariably, the question posed by these people has been, "Are you making money by using the internet? How can I make money as well?"

It seems that if a new market base cannot be easily identified to these hesitant people, then they will simply delay any internet development program. Unfortunately, there are numerous opportunities which they will miss out on, and fail to envision. When they finally decide to implement an internet program, they will realize that an effective use of the internet will require significant changes in the way their business is operated. The burden of having to reorganize a company's mode of doing business as well as implementing an internet program can be overwhelming. This is why I recommend the implementation of an internet program on a preliminary and evaluatory basis to determine what changes need to be made within a company/organization to facilitate the best use of the internet.

Additionally, many people look at the costs related to the implementation of an internet program as prohibitive. Many business owners have actually asked me to show them how their revenues can be increased in order to justify the expenditures of an internet program. I tend to view this situation in the following manner:

A retail outlet refuses to purchase the goods which I am distributing, unless I can provide them with the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all the potential customers who will purchase these goods. Although I might be able to provide the retail outlet with a list of other satisfied retail outlets and/or customers, I am not in the business to perform the market and sales research which this retail outlet should perform on their own.

Some level of due diligence is required on the part of the business owner to ascertain the opportunities available by engaging in a particular type of activity. But, when it comes to the internet, many business owners refuse to engage in even the most basic levels of research to ascertain the opportunities available.

But, the previous example avoids one of the most basic reasons for utilizing the internet: the internet should allow a company to become more effective and efficient. Rather than looking for new sources of revenues to justify internet expenses, it might be advisable to review current operating budgets to assess how the internet can be used to reduce existing expenses.

If a company is currently spending $100,000. to distribute direct mail literature, and use of the internet can reduce this expense by 30% while also making the same type of information available to a global market; then the immediate financial savings will be $30,000. to distribute to the existing market, while also making this information available to an expanded market base with no additional expenses incurred.

If a company distributes periodic product update/support information to existing customers, the ability to distribute this information via the internet to existing, prospective and future customers might significantly reduce the expenses related to this process.

Many computer peripheral manufacturers no longer need to mail out upgrade software disks to their customers. They merely place the upgrades as file attachments to an internet web site, and any customer can download these upgrades (at any time of the day or night). The ability to reduce: production costs, live technical support lines, postage, and personnel expenses is significant. The ability to provide a service to millions of customers has been reduced to the minimal expense necessary to place the upgraded file attachment on an internet site.

Needless to say, not every customer might have access to the internet, and in these instances some of the "old fashion" methods of customer support will still have to be maintained. But wouldn't a reduction of even 10% of these support-service related expenses be desirable to the CFO of a company?

The examples of how a company can reduce their operating expenses is endless. I won't belabor the point. What I will emphasize, is that use of the internet should be approached from the perspective of how to significantly change how a company is currently operating. Looking to reduce existing operating expenses is just one area that should be seriously considered. Potential cost reductions should be more than adequate to finance an initial internet program.

After a company has realized the initial benefits of the internet, and their personnel has become more skilled with using the internet, they will quickly discover those "new market areas" which they want to venture into. And they will be much more prepared to "attack" those market areas with the innovative tool of the internet, while also having restructured their company to a leaner "money making machine".

The opportunities to discover additional profit centers by utilizing the internet are just as great as the opportunities to reduce profit losses which are occurring in present company activities.

A serious review of all current activities should be conducted prior to the full implementation of an internet program. Initial use of the internet should directly impact these activities in a fashion which allows a company to reduce expenses, or, expand their market/performance base in a much more cost effective manner.

Now, when a company owner asks me how they can make money on the internet, I usually ask them how much of their profits they are losing by not using the internet! A company does not necessarily need to increase revenues in order to increase profits. The internet can allow you to do both!

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"It's all just too confusing!"

For many people, their hesitancy to utilize the internet is based upon their lack of knowledge: the myriad of confusing terms, ever-changing equipment and software, etc. There really isn't much to learn in order to begin a basic internet program. Don't let the technology frighten you.

I have avoided using many of the standard internet acronyms in many of the documents I have written,...but there really aren't too many of them, and if you begin to use the internet, you will soon find yourself speaking in "webese". Referring to a basic internet glossary of terms will provide you with all of the information you need to know. If you can comprehend: P&L, A/P, A/R; you should have no problem comprehending: URL, FTP, HTML, HTTP, or WWW.

Everyone talks about "home pages", "web sites"; or asks, "What's your URL and e-mail address?" Or, you might hear someone saying, "That home page was too difficult to navigate." or, "The download time took too long." These aren't statements to be afraid of or confused by. In reality, they're not much different than, "What's your telephone number?", or, "What's your business address?", or, "Their voice mail is always busy."

Although I would not recommend jumping into the water to find out if it was cold or not, I might recommend that you insert your hand to determine if you wanted to ultimately jump in. You should do the same with the internet. Initiate a basic internet program to determine if it is something which is beneficial to your company, and how extensively you will use it.

If you're really apprehensive, access one of the primary national services (America OnLine®, Compuserve®, Prodigy®), and browse the web for a "look-see". This is an inexpensive way to view the internet and the data bases made available by these services, but is limited to what each of these servers makes available to their users. (Many of these national services have initiated fully-integrated internet access programs). If you're adventuresome and spend a great deal of time on the internet, you will quickly discover that internet access with these services becomes expensive after you have expended your free monthly allotment of time, and use of a local or national ISP might be less expensive.

You'll then want to research a local or national ISP where you'll be able to obtain bulk rates for access time on the internet. Although many of these ISP's won't have the prepared and preselected data bases of information available which is usually provided by the primary national services, you will have complete access to the internet at an affordable rate. You will have to know where you want to go and what you want to do on the internet. You will be able to create your own customized data bases of information, only having to view that which is of specific importance to you.

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1. Internet Service Provider (ISP)

There are some questions you should ask before selecting an ISP:

If you're looking for a local dial-up service, they should have a local number available for you to connect to. This avoids the expense of long distance telephone calls to connect to the ISP.

Your ISP should have a skilled staff available to install the necessary access software on your computer. Since there are numerous access softwares available, you should review them, ask other users about them, and review some of the support information available. Your ISP should be willing to provide all of the guidance and assistance necessary to make your access to the internet user friendly.

Your ISP should also have a skilled staff available to assist with the installation of network browsing software. Currently, the most popular browser software is Netscape® , and there are many utilities included in this software which will enhance your ability to do almost anything on the internet.

Your ISP should have adequate technical support services available 24 hours/day 7 days/week. You should also be aware of all planned ISP down-times which might be necessary for systems maintenance. If your ISP is out of service, so is your access to the internet, and anyone else's ability to access your internet site. Adequate contingency plans should be in place to ensure continuous use of and availability to the internet.

Your ISP should have state-of-the-art equipment which will facilitate all of your internet work. The speeds of the connect modems, the number of modems available for dial-up users, the band width; these are all issues which you should discuss with you ISP.

If your ISP has 1,000 dial-up customers, but only 50 modems to handle the user traffic, you might find yourself staring at a blank computer screen for hours.

If you have a 28,800 modem installed, but your ISP only has 14,400 connect modems in service, your modem will only operate as fast as the ISP's modem.

If you intend to develop a home page or web site, you might want to review the development services which your ISP offers. It is recommended that you review some of the other sites which they have developed: are they easy to access?, easy to navigate?, do they make sense?

These are just some of the questions you should ask when selecting an ISP. But be advised, the best way to select an ISP is to do some of the research yourself! Search the available sites, confer with other ISP users, ask questions,.......do some due diligence!

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2. Home Pages / Web Sites

After some time on the internet, you might decide that you want to create a permanent presence on the internet by developing a home page. The development of home pages has become so easy, that many people are able to purchase software which allows them to create a home page on their own. While others feel that this task should be left to professionals who provide home page development as a service.

There are some initial questions you should ask about the design, purpose for, and maintenance of your home page.

What will your home page be used for?

Is it a contact site for other people to discover you?

Is it a commerce site where people will be able to conduct business with you?

Is it an informational site for people to access information which you want to distribute?

Is it a networking/marketing site, linking people to various sources of information within your organization/site, and to other sites you have identified?

The above list of home page uses is general in nature, and is used to identify some basic reasons why people create home page sites. You may find your needs to be more extensive in nature, a combination of the examples listed above, or, totally unique. The intent of the examples listed above is to illustrate the need to identify the purpose for your home page site.

In most cases, the purpose for your site will dictate what types of questions you need to ask in order to ensure that your site is properly designed.

By answering the above questions, and by creating your own list of questions, you will have created a basic outline of what you want your site to do, and what you'll want the host of your site to provide you with.

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Contact Site:

These are usually basic sites providing the browser with basic information about yourself and/or your company. As with all sites, this site should be easy to access and download, and should be easy to navigate.

Some basic utilities which you might want to include in this site are:

Current date/Revision date.

Text file format (if you have numerous graphics).

E-mail hyperlink (allowing the browser to send you an e-mail message).

Auto response to e-mail messages sent.

URL identification (current location).

URL hyperlink to other portions of your site.

Tool bar navigation device allowing the browser to easily navigate your site.

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Commerce Site:

These sites can be basic or complex in nature, depending upon what your intentions are. For some companies, putting a catalogue of their products and services on line is an additional way for them to market to a much larger market base. Some companies might provide links to data, which can be downloaded once a financial transaction has been completed. Other companies might require n initial subscription to the site prior to data access, allowing the browser to access the site whenever they want to after they have processed their subscription. The possibilities are endless.

Some basic utilities which you might want to include in this site are:

Current date/Revision date.

Text file format (if you have numerous graphics).

E-mail hyperlink (allowing the browser to send you an e-mail message).

Auto response to e-mail messages sent.

URL identification (current location).

URL hyperlink to other portions of your site.

Tool bar navigation device allowing the browser to easily navigate your site.

Product/service ordering programs:

Allowing browser to place orders, process transaction.

Financial transaction programs:

On line transfer of funds:

Secure to first party, or second party.

Transaction code with 800 telephone access number allowing manual credit processing of order.

Registration programs:

Allowing you to identify specific information about browser.

Allowing you to forward (email) updates of information to browser.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section.

A directory of questions which have been frequently asked by browsers.

Possible instructions, directions on how to interact with your site.

Additional information pertaining to the products/services described in your site.

Internal search engines:

Allowing a browser to "search for" specific information located on the site. This might include directories to product/service information, corporate information, company contacts, etc.

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5. Informational Site:

Sometimes, these sites are used to provide specific types of information, with no intent to sell anything, while other times these sites are used to provide information in an attempt to "develop" a business relationship with the browser.

Informational sites which are designed as pre-marketing tools, usually link to other commercial sites which make available to the browser more specific products/services which they can purchase.

Informational sites can play a critical role in providing potential customers with valuable information about your products and services. Many companies distribute helpful information in numerous fashions without ever having developed a business relationship. They send out direct mail pieces, take out advertisements in magazines, newspapers, journals, etc. Use of the internet allows this process to be accomplished on a greater scale, and less expensively.

There is no reason why all of the supportive information which a company has developed cannot be made available on the internet for all to see. One basic advantage is that the expense of doing so is limited to the initial expense of developing the home page data, rather than having to continually place advertisements and distribute direct mail packages.

Some basic utilities which you might want to include in this site are:

Current date/Revision date.

Text file format (if you have numerous graphics).

E-mail hyperlink (allowing the browser to send you an e-mail message).

Auto response to e-mail messages sent.

URL identification (current location).

URL hyperlink to other portions of your site.

URL hyperlink to relevant commercial sites.

Tool bar navigation device allowing the browser to easily navigate your site.

Registration programs:

Allowing you to identify specific information about browser.

Allowing you to forward (email) updates of information to browser.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section.

A directory of questions which have been frequently asked by browsers.

Possible instructions, directions on how to interact with your site.

Additional information pertaining to the products/services described in your site.

Internal search engines:

Allowing a browser to "search for" specific information located on the site.

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6. Networking/Marketing Site:

I tend to refer to these sites as the types of sites used by organizations, trade associations, non-profit informational sites, etc. They are usually developed to coordinate information and resources about numerous entities which might or might not have their own internet presence, but are related to the organization, or are interested in something which the organization is doing.

A Chamber of Commerce might create a site such as this to market the programs and goals of the Chamber. They might also use this site to distribute program information to their online membership. Additionally, this type of site could be used to advertise the Chamber as well as online and offline members to whomever was interested in browsing that site.

Industry associations create sites which list specific members of that industry, allowing anyone online to search for one of the listed members. This allows the industry association to generate additional business contacts for their membership, while also creating additional revenue sources for the association itself by selling advertising on the site, or charging maintenance fees to the members listed.

Some basic utilities which you might want to include in this site are:

Current date/Revision date.

Text file format (if you have numerous graphics).

E-mail hyperlink (allowing the browser to send you an e-mail message).

Auto response to e-mail messages sent.

URL identification (current location).

URL hyperlink to other portions of your site.

URL hyperlink to relevant commercial sites.

Tool bar navigation device allowing the browser to easily navigate your site.

Registration programs:

Allowing you to identify specific information about browser.

Allowing you to forward (email) updates of information to browser.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section.

A directory of questions which have been frequently asked by browsers.

Possible instructions, directions on how to interact with your site.

Additional information pertaining to the products/services described in your site.

Internal search engines:

Allowing a browser to "search for" specific information located on the site. This might include membership directories, program listings, organization contact directories, etc.

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"How do I find a needle in the haystack?"

The internet provides access to an infinite amount of information. This information changes from moment to moment, and there isn't one directory source which will tell you where everything is. But there are some rather excellent search engines which are designed to constantly browse the internet seeking out and cataloguing all of the sites on the internet.

I have been asked many times why there isn't just one directory for the information available on the internet. I usually respond by identifying the fact that there isn't just one global telephone book, one dictionary, one encyclopedia. The reference tools which we use to conduct our business are numerous and sometimes rather specific The internet is no exception, although it's reference tools are sometimes much easier to use, and more global in nature.

There are literally hundreds of search engines which you can access to search for information. You should access some of them to determine which search engines provide you with the most beneficial types of information.

There are also various ways to conduct searches on the internet, and the search parameters for each of the search engines should be understood before you attempt to conduct a search. These parameters are not difficult to learn, and most of the search engines have user friendly online directions and help sections.

Once you become familiar with a few of the search engines, you will be able to determine which search engine you'll use for which type of search. You'll also become more competent at designing search requests that generate issue specific responses.

As a special note: if you maintain your own home page, you might want to submit your home page information to the various search engines, or have your ISP provide this information to them, to facilitate other people finding your site on the internet. There are various services which will submit your home page information to all of the search engines. This might make your URL submission easier, while also getting your URL listed sooner than it might be if you waited for the search engines to discover your site on their own.

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1. Hardware

Many people have hesitated accessing the internet because they think they need a warehouse full of expensive state-of-the-art equipment. Not true! All you really need is a computer, a modem, and a telephone line. How you access the internet, and how effective your access is, depends upon the type of equipment you use, and the type of equipment your service provider uses.

The speed which you are able to process information will depend upon the CPU speed of your computer, but you can access the internet even if you are still using a 286 computer. The data access between your computer and the internet will depend upon the type of modem you are using.

If you chose to use a dial-up service with a standard modem, the fastest basic modems on the market today are operating at 28,800 baud rate, and they're not too expensive. These types of modems are relatively fast for the average user, but if you intend to process massive amounts of information, or intend to provide access to multiple users at the same location, you might want to research some of the other options available.

If you wish to obtain faster internet access, you might want to install an ISDN line, a 56K line, or a T1 line. The basic expense with these types of systems will be related to the connection equipment (which is different than the basic modem) and the rental of the communication lines from your telephone company. The ability to utilize these types of systems will also depend upon the equipment capabilities of your ISP.

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2. Peripherals and Software

Once again, you don't need expensive equipment to access the internet. But the ability to perform many functions, and the quality of work will depend greatly on the types of peripheral equipment and software you install.

You can use a basic dot matrix printer for your work, but you will most likely discover that the minimal expense required to obtain a laser quality printer will provide you with higher quality results.

Pointing devices (mouse, glide point, track ball) will also make most of your work easier, especially since many of these devices have become standard items due to the point-and-click nature of Windows®, Windows 95® and many other softwares.

Operating softwares and internet softwares are available to perform just about any task. Many of the newer operating softwares interface rather easily with most of the internet software programs. There are numerous internet navigating softwares available, and many internet softwares available which allow you to perform almost any task on the internet.

Two basic features which most of the internet softwares make available are Address Books and Book Marks. These features may differ from software to software, but their use greatly enhances your ability to utilize the internet in an effective fashion.

Address books is a feature which allows you to store the email address of various people in a categorized fashion. One basic benefit of this feature is that you'll never have to re-type lengthy email addresses ever again. This feature allows you to write one email message and then send it to any group of people listed in your address book as easily as if you were sending the message to only one person. When was the last time you were able to send a letter to 100 people in the same amount of time it took to send a letter to one person?

If you intend to frequently distribute massive amounts of email, it might be advisable to obtain one of the specially designed bulk email software programs. These programs offer even more features which aren't always available in the standard address book programs.

Book marks is another standard feature which is available on most browsing softwares. This feature allows you to save and categorize the home page addresses (URL's) of sites which you have determined that you wish to return to frequently.

After you have saved these address, all you need to do is select the names of these sites from the directory, and your browser will instantly bring you to that site. This feature allows you to remember your favorite sites, and prevents you from having to re-type lengthy home page addresses.

I seriously recommend that you utilize these two features. You will soon discover that the information maintained in these two data bases will serve as an excellent resource for you and for your employees. Rather than having numerous people looking for the same kind of information, a systematic distribution of this contact information will provide your personnel with a much more substantial resource. By sharing this information you will reduce unwarranted searching, and enable your employees to become more proficient.

There are numerous other softwares available which allow you to perform major bulk-email distribution, financial transactions, collation and distribution of information, home page development and maintenance, etc. For every type of activity which you wish to engage in on the internet, there is most likely a software which has been designed to facilitate that activity. The costs and equipment requirements for each of these softwares vary, and you should perform extensive research into the uses and applications of each of these softwares.

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3. Equipment Summary

Your equipment needs and the finances necessary to support these needs will be directly related to how you intend to utilize the internet. This is why it is recommended that you perform extensive research about what can be done, and what you will do on the internet. The type of equipment and software you install will have a significant impact on the success of your internet program with end-users and your own personnel.

You should design your internet program to provide for ease of use for both your personnel and the intended end-user. Installing some basic software programs might prevent extensive unwarranted work on the part of personnel. Remember, the internet should allow your company to become more effective and efficient! It should not make operating your company more difficult.

Look at what other companies have done, research the types of equipment and softwares they have purchased, and use this information to develop your own comprehensive internet program.

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"There's just too much to learn!"

Education should be a permanent process prior to and during all of your internet activities. The moment that you or your staff stop learning new things about the internet, is the moment that the ever-changing benefits of the internet begin to become unavailable to you.

You need to learn something about the internet in order to develop an initial internet program. This will require that you gather some information from others about how to begin.

After obtaining this initial information, and accessing the internet,...you need to browse the internet to determine what opportunities are available to you, and which ones you decide to utilize in your internet program. This process will require that you expend some monies, and possibly attend some classes, seminars, workshops, etc. It will also require that either you or members of your staff be allowed to browse the web to research what is happening on the internet.

I can't tell you how expensive or inexpensive this process will be. What I will tell you is that you need to perform enough research to be satisfied that your internet plans are attainable and realistic.

When you think you know what you want to do, you should then attempt to communicate with other people who are doing something similar, or, who have implemented internet programs which utilize similar technologies. Attend more seminars, research internet experts, confer with service providers, equipment and software manufacturers, internet users and end-users. Be relentless!

Once you have developed a basic internet program, you might want to initiate a presence on the internet in a limited or controlled fashion, to allow for any "bugs" to be identified and resolved. This will provide personnel with the opportunity to adjust to the implications of your internet presence, and might also allow them to make recommendations/suggestions about how to improve your internet program.

Resolve yourself to the fact that you will be constantly told how to "make your internet program better", or, "how things can be done in a more effective manner". These comments should not be ignored, especially if they come from someone who has browsed your site (possibly a customer) and has the courtesy and concern to communicate these comments to you.

After you have done your preliminary research, developed your internet program, initiated it on the internet, made some revisions,.....don't think that the learning process is over. Remember, the internet changes from moment to moment! You should allow for some sort of permanent education and re-education process to ensure than your internet program maintains a viable function within your company and on the internet.

Some business owners have stated that access to the internet merely provides their employees with the opportunity to "surf the web" ignoring their business responsibilities. Providing your employees with unlimited access to the internet is like opening Pandora's Box. The mysteries, wonders and treasures of the internet will entice your employees to surf the internet, looking for whatever is out there. Encourage your employees to surf!

There is no way to identify everything which is available on the internet, and it does change from moment to moment. Surfing is just one way to discover some of the things which are available on the internet. Many companies have realized that the surfing craze does not last for long, and ultimately, employees begin to utilize what they have learned from their surfing activities to the benefit of the company. In fact, the moment your employees stop surfing the internet (looking for new things) is the moment that your knowledge of what is available on the internet begins to diminish. Allow for the creative process to exist within your personnel, let them be adventuresome, they might discover something of value for your company.

If you encourage your employees to be creative, also encourage them to share their experiences. Something which has been discovered on the internet is useless if no one else knows about it. Also, encourage your end-users (those who have viewed your site) to make comments about what they thought was helpful, and more importantly,....what they thought was ineffective about your site.

Personal Note:

I have learned many things about the internet during casual surfing adventures. I have discovered things that I never knew existed, and I have learned about new ways to use the internet that I was never aware of previously.

I have also had the opportunity to experiment with various innovative technologies while surfing the internet, and have learned how to incorporate some of these innovations into my normal internet business activities.

It seems prudent to test something in a situation where there is minimal risk, rather than implementing it on a major scale without a complete knowledge of the risks and implications.

I schedule a specific amount of time dedicated to surfing, looking for new things on the internet, with no pre-defined objectives. I am still amazed at the amount of discoveries I make each day!

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"When you come to a fork in the road,....take it"

- Yogi Bera

"The man who makes no mistakes

Does not usually make anything"

- E.J. Phelps 1899

We've all heard stories about the internet: what works, what doesn't work, how difficult it is to figure out what to do, major mistakes which have been made, etc. It might be difficult to determine which path to travel on, but you'll never get anywhere standing still. And although it is never advisable to make mistakes, mistakes will most certainly occur. Just make sure that your mistakes are little ones, that you learn something from them, and that you don't make the same mistake twice.

Here are just a few comments about the internet which I'd like to discuss:

"The internet is growing so fast, that it will soon burst at the seams and disappear!"

Sure! It is true that the internet has experienced phenomenal growth during the past few years, and there is every indication that this growth will continue. Existing technological infrastructures have been required to handle vast amounts of internet activity which they were never initially designed to handle.

It may take a while for certain industries to develop technologies necessary to keep pace with the expansion of the internet. Traditional telephone lines are simply inadequate to meet the needs of the growing internet market. It is possible that internet satellite communications will become more common before all the telephone lines are upgraded.

One of the largest areas of growth due to the internet, is the development of intranets, or, internet sites within corporate structures. Intranets are allowing companies to become more efficient and effective within themselves.

It seems highly unlikely that something as beneficial as the internet and all of the related technologies, will disappear! If you truly believe that the internet is going to "crash and burn", just remember that other warning we were told about many years ago: "The sky is falling!"

"It's all just a fad! No one's going to really use it!"

This is exactly what many of the horse-owners said when Henry Ford produced his first horseless carriage. This is also what many of the gas lamp and oil lamp manufacturers said when Thomas Edison produced the first electric light bulb.

But, if you truly think that the internet is just a fad, and that no one really uses it, do the following things:

Read a magazine, any magazine, and try to find a page which does not list a URL or email address. Look at the pages that do list URL's and email addresses, and ask yourself if the owners of these URL's and email addresses think that the internet is just a fad.

Listen to the radio. Count the times you hear an email address or URL advertised.

Watch television. Count the times you see an email address or URL advertised.

Review your collection of business cards. Do any of them have email addresses or URL's listed?

Read the newspaper. How many references do you find indicating that additional information is available at the following URL?

If the internet is just a fad,....then it is probably one of the most innovative, beneficial, evolutionary types of fads which has presented itself in the 20'th century. While some people may chose to ride a horse with a kerosene lantern held high, I think I'll surf the web. It just seems like a more efficient way to "get there from here".

"No one's going to do business on the internet.

There are too many hackers trying to steal people's money"

Being able to process secure financial transactions on the internet is definitely something which merits serious concern. The internet is not exempt from the activities of those with criminal minds. But, if you think that the internet is an environment where stealing money from people is easier than anywhere else, just consider the following:

When was the last time you asked your waitress what she was going to do with your charge receipt (which has all of your proprietary credit information as well as your signature on it)? Who gets to look at this receipt, where is it stored, and do they really need it after they ran your credit card through the scanner?

Have you ever given your credit card information to a vendor over the telephone in order to purchase a product? Who wrote down the information? Where is this information stored?

Have you ever faxed a purchase order with your credit card information and signature on it? Who maintains these files? Where does all of this proprietary information go?

Have you ever purchased something with your credit card, and been asked to sign a digitizing signature register? Where does all of this proprietary credit information (with your digitized signature) go?

Do you know what your financial liabilities are regarding your credit cards? Do you know what your legal recourse is if someone steals and improperly uses your credit information?

The security devices which have been developed to ensure secure financial transactions on the internet are probably better than anything which you are currently using in your normal life. If you do not utilize these security programs, you might be subjected to the devious acts of criminals who are looking to steal your credit information.

If you think that financial transactions on the internet are less secure, then you probably haven't done enough research about all of the devices which are available to deal with the security issue.

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If you really want to learn how to best implement an internet program, I seriously recommend that you gather as much information as possible from numerous sources.

Go to a bookstore and review the books available about using the internet. Review the various magazines and trade journals as well. They are excellent references and starting points for your research.

Talk to other internet users, ask them to give you a guided tour on the internet.

Attend seminars, workshops, and classes. Listen to the speakers, discuss issues with other attendees, and read the literature provided.

Access the internet, and search, search, search! Take copious notes about those things which: "turn you on", make you stay at a site for more than a minute, make you leave a site, make you move on before the site has even been downloaded.

Finally, if you've attended a seminar which I've presented, you've probably received some of the basic information which I've prepared about doing business on the internet. All of the information which I have developed about the internet is in various stages of being made available on the internet (at various sites with various servers). The following list identifies how this information can be obtained (pick the technology of your choice):





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Mark S.Deion

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Warwick, RI 02888-2704 USA
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E-mail: marks@deionassociates.com
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