One way of looking at how Internet technology now supports us in our communications is based on where and when and how it is used.

The “where” can either be defined as in the same location (for example in the same building, using an intranet) or alternatively, a different location in another office, whether on the same company site or the other side of the world.

The “when” refers to assisting communication either on a real-time basis (synchronous) or over a period where messages are responded to later (asynchronous).

Different types of applications have been developed to assist these different forms of communication.

An alternative way of looking at Internet communications, is to consider “how” they are used. For example, which of the applications above have proved most popular for business – SMS text messaging, Instant Messaging or e-mail?

SMS text messaging (which is not strictly over the Internet, but rather separate wireless networks) has proved most popular for social communications, with billions of messages sent every day. There are some niche applications such as notifying a logistics manager when stock falls below a level, or alerts for when new supplies have been dispatched. Instant messaging again is mainly a consumer phenomenon, for example, many students studying abroad, use it as a cheap and continuous way to keep in touch with their friends and family. It is used in some businesses for instant decision making when an immediate response is required which may be lost in the many messages within an e-mail inbox.

E-mail, however, is the ‘killer business application’ since it provides a way of contacting colleagues and partners who are not usually available for synchronous communication. It is also very popular for social use for this reason also.

Whatever application a business utilizes for communication or promotion, this has to be well thought of in terms of security and timeliness.  Such application must be one of least cost but effective.