Josh Froebe has 2 years of experience in software development with a focus on data manipulation and small business automation and 4 years of professional theater experience in the Seattle area. He currently does part time software development and runs a small computer repair business called Proactive Computation. He doesn’t believe in blogs and hates when people say “anyways” which isn’t a word.
Sun Tzu, The Art of War
“To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”
If I try to punch you and your guard blocks my blow, this guard has demonstrated his value as a defensive agent. If I want to punch you but I punch someone else because there stands next to you a formidable guard, this guard has nothing with which to demonstrate his worth to you. To put this in the macro sense, if everyone in danger of being punched hired the second type of formidable guard to protect them, there would be no more attacks and thus there would be no provable need for the formidable guard’s services.
The advent of e-commerce introduced several potential weaknesses in a large corporation’s stability and security. These stem from the public’s ability to communicate and interact with a large company in previously unimaginable ways. While there may be serious barriers of entry to becoming a major oil drilling company, there are no barriers of entry to causing damage to BP after their oil spill. Suddenly large corporations don’t have to deal with the few media giants that control the bulk of the public’s knowledge to do some damage control, they have to deal with bloggers and celebrities and internet petitions. Now let’s not kid ourselves, the internet often overestimates it’s own ability to enact social change and despite it’s boundless ability to say whatever the hell it wants, a huge percent of the population still gets the bulk of it’s information from mainstream media and whether or not mainstream media is influenced by the internet is outside of the scope of this post (if you want to read more there is a fantastic article here though you may have to register to read the whole thing). The other area where the general public can influence and weaken a large company is in the form of cryptographic attacks.
If you discuss digital security or cryptography at all this month you essentially have to mention the heartbleed bug. So what is the heartbleed bug? It’s essentially a flaw in openSSL that lets ANYONE get whatever is in the server’s active memory by exploiting a flaw in the TLS’s “heartbeat request” system. But the question that I’d prefer to ask is, why do we know about it? I don’t mean why does the security community know about it, I mean why does my mother know about it, why is my Facebook wall discussing it, why is it a ubiquitous term? In short, it’s because of a fantastically successful advertising campaign which demonstrates how much information security businesses rely on hackers to maintain their business. There are of course other reasons that lead to Heartbleed’s infamy, it’s simplicity for one, very rarely is such a devastating exploit so remarkably simple. And of course the broad effect of the vulnerability makes it very exciting.
Aaaannnd I’m not done writing this but I have to go
If you’re looking for an overview of what makes E-Commerce different than the standard brick and mortar commerce, Holidalung’s Blog provides an excellent summery broken down into 8 points.
These points are ubiquity, global reach, universal standards, richness, interactivity, information density, personalization, and social technology. Also mentioned is the ability to reach a broader audience, the combination of the broader audience and the 8 features of e-commerce create a compelling argument for the use of e-commerce as an effect business tool.
Fundamental to a successful expansion and growth of an economy is the exploration and maturing of new business models which take advantage of technological advancements. The rate of change and growth that the sudden ubiquity of the internet brought about is unprecedented, even the industrial revolution took 50 years to realize the same GDP increases that were brought about by the internet (to stable countries) in a mere 15 years. Indeed, 21% of GDP growth was as a result of internet consumption and expenditure. It’s impact on the global economy is massive and represents one of the largest sectors, larger than energy or agriculture at 3.4 percent of GDP.
It’s here where we leave the realm of well researched fact and delve into the shady world of speculation. What I am interested in is; of the businesses which derive a significant percentage of their revenue from the internet, which business models have created new wealth opportunities and which have mealy transitioned business to the online sector. I am not an economist, nor am I an expert in internet business so I am, if not the last person who should be writing about this, certainly standing right next to that person. However, there is a surprising lack of serious research that has been done into the internet’s impact on the economy (something which is actually acknowledged in several of the studies I read and attributed to the medium’s infancy). This lack of data on the economics of the internet presents a fantastic opportunity for relatively justified speculation (something that is all too common on the internet).
The first point of consideration is the internet’s ability to penetrate existing markets. Unlike the industrial revolution, increases in efficiency in the manufacturing and distribution of goods will not be realized by consumers unless the number of users reaches a critical mass. The internet is nothing more than a form of rapid communication between devices capable of rapidly translating this communication into words, images, sounds, or data and thus offers very little increase in efficiency on the micro level. Increases in efficiency only develop when there is large support for that increase for without a large user base or infrastructure, there is no potential efficiency gain. This is part of the reason that internet growth is so fragmented and unstable.