Electronic business communication has made significant inroads into supplanting traditional business communication as a result of the popularity of the Internet. In addition to the old electronic staples of telex and facsimile (fax) transmissions, electronic data interchange (EDI) and email has emerged. Other types of electronic business communication include voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) and Internet-based communications applications, such as chat room software, instant messaging (IM), videoconferencing, desktop virtualization and website posting through forums, comment sections and social networking interfaces.
Prior to the widespread establishment of high speed Internet access at the consumer level, businesses relied on telex and fax machines to transmit documents and data electronically. The telex system used electronic signaling to send reliable text-based messages, particularly in international business transactions. Fax machines took the electronic transfer of data a step further, allowing actual reproductions of documents to be sent with the ease of making a phone call. Both types of electronic business communication are still in use in some industries, but there has been a marked transition to newer forms of data transmission that rely on Internet connectivity.
Two types of electronic business communication that have developed as substitutes for the telex and fax are EDI and email. EDI enables the transfer of secure business documents from computer to computer. Email is text-based business communication between internal and external parties. These communications platforms require an Internet connection to function and have become ubiquitous parts of business operations. Appropriate email communication protocol, for example, is as important as a telephone system for businesses today.
VOIP is another type of electronic business communication that allows voice transmission over the Internet. It has developed as a low-cost option to traditional telephone exchange networks. Small businesses, in particular, can use VOIP to mimic the functionality of an advanced telephone network at a fraction of the cost by placing calls through their computers. Text-based applications for chat room and IM functionality also enable businesses to communicate with employees and customers in real-time, without the lag that is part of the email process. This type of text-based communication has the immediacy of a phone call without the need for the parties to speak out loud.
Other types of electronic business communication enable businesses to conduct conferences over the Internet. Further, desktop virtualization software enables one party to display a presentation on his desktop that will display simultaneously to the screens of people in remote locations. Perhaps one of the most pervasive forms of electronic business communication that has significantly impacted businesses in the Internet age is the type of text-based website posting and commenting that people do on company websites, blogs, forums and social networking sites. Rather than a customer writing a letter to send a comment to a company, he is more likely to post that comment somewhere on the Internet for the benefit of the company and the public.