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Today's business and educational worlds depend upon electronic data. A great deal of business critical information only exists in electronic form and optimum working efficiency is best achieved by managing and trading that data electronically.

Figure (1) below shows a general adoption process leading an existing company from a non connected state to a connected state - adding clicks to bricks in popular jargon. Plainly this is a generalisation and elements may not be relevant to specific businesses.

Internet access is a must for most of us today, email now being the preferred method of communication for many businesses. This along with e-markets and B2B trading over the Internet is forcing many companies who have not already done so, to network and join the e-revolution.

adoption ladder.jpg (16808 bytes)

Data and system reliability and availability are critical parameters and should be regarded as key to the continuing operation of business. There are many threats to both system and data, from poor power supplies through inadequate administration to malicious hackers. Key areas to maintaining system availability and data integrity are; system design, data backups, access control and virus prevention.

External access through a central point, or gateway, instead of multiple dialup accounts helps in the fight against virus infection and malicious intrusion by hackers.

A single connection for all traffic can be used to provide anti-virus protection for email, web page based active code and ftp downloads.Centralised caching can help speed up page access and reduce load on the connection. Furthermore it becomes simpler to block access to inappropriate sites helping you protect your employees or children from inadvertent access to obscene material.

Shared printers on a network save money and allow economic resources to be concentrated on buying quality instead of quantity. A reduction in diversity of printers in an office often saves on the cost of consumables and office administration.

Collaborative projects are easier to manage if the whole team sees and works on the same data. Team efficiency is increased by reducing the time wasted by multiple copies of information getting out of sync or taking divergent development paths.

Networking can bring benefits to the small business as well as the large providing it is designed and planned to suit the business at hand.

 

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