The premise behind this class is that there are business and economics principles that apply to any kind of business, including businesses that use the internet.

Studying "The Internet and Business" will help you to understand business as well as the internet. This class will focus on business, not technology. Every business has revenues and costs, customers and competitors. "Pure-play" internet businesses are no different. But the internet has an impact on the economics of every business - sometimes a dramatic impact. You need to understand how the Internet affects the bottom line. To do that you need to understand a little about the technology.

The internet is a fast-moving environment. You need research skills to be able to keep up. Textbooks are out of date as soon as they're printed. That's why there's no text for this class. One of the course objectives is to give you practice in researching the internet as a business environment.

This is a new course, so I'm going to experiment as we proceed. My current thinking is that there should be three strands to this:

  • Internet technology
    • Understanding its capabilities
    • Hands-on experience with free internet tools
  • Microeconomics
  • Business implications and case studies
    • Business models
    • Business strategy
    • Firm design

Here are some topics and skills I want to cover (incomplete - in progress):

  • understanding financial statements (to analyze public companies)
  • analyzing a business model
  • internet marketing
  • internet skills
    • simple HTML
    • creating a web page
    • creating and editing wikis
    • creating and editing a blog

Approach to Technology

The internet is a network of computers. Computer technonology is rich with jargon. You need to understand some of these terms. The level I'm aiming for is "sophisticated business user" - that is, someone who is primarily concerned with the business aspects of internet commerce, but who understands enough about the technology to have a sensible conversation with a business analyst or a web site developer.

Some things I want you to understand:

  • When you ask a developer "how can we do X?", he sometimes says it can be done in a day and other times says it will take a year and five million dollars
  • How to think about the impact of new technology developments
  • to come

What this Class is About

  • How the internet affects business's profitability
    • Traditional (not pure internet-based) businesses
    • Creating opportunities for new types of businesses
  • How the internet affects the way businesses operate
  • How to use the internet successfully in business

What this Class is NOT About

  • A practical guide to starting a web-based business. You'll learn lots of relevant principles, but the nuts and bolts issues like setting up the web site, database design, payments, accounting and so on are up to you.
  • Web site design
  • Web programming (or any other programming)
  • Internet technology
  • Computer networks
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