Thirty years ago, opening a business was a very different proposition. The target market was within a few miles of the business location.Advertising the company involved putting up a few signs on the storefront, ads in the paper or sending flyers in the mail.

The internet changed all of that – and so much more.

The business world will never be the same, thanks to the tech evolution that we have witnessed in the past couple decades.Here are four ways the internet transformed how companies do business.

  1. Communication

Email and instant messaging are now the two default formats of communication within many businesses. Whether it is through WhatsApp, Slack or another messaging platform, many employees talk to each other and their bosses through such means.

The result?Employees who can keep in touch with each other with ease. It is no longer necessary to call someone or go see them in person, when a short message or email will do the trick.

It also means companies are able to involve freelancers and remote employees, as they can communicate with everyone despite being hundreds of miles away! People can video conference into big meetings, access company networks from a laptop in a coffee shop and subject projects through cloud services in an instant.

  1. Marketing

While many small businesses still focus on the local market, the way they advertise to those people is different. Most businesses use the internet and social media for efficient, cost effective advertising.

Thanks to web and mobile websites, search engine optimization, social media marketing and video marketing, companies can reach out to potential customers who are one or one thousand miles away!

  1. Research

It is so much easier for businesses to research their target market. Collecting data on customers also means that future products and services can better match what the company’s most loyal customers are seeking.

Data collection and analysis is more efficient than before. Every single interaction with a customer is logged, inputted into the total data captured and then analyzed for the betterment of the company.

Research is not only available for academic reasons, but also for consumers looking to make more informed buying decisions online. For example, here you can compare loans and find the ones with the best interest rate, while at the same time viewing ratings of each bank to determine which one fits you best.

Say a company wants to expand to another location. There is limitless data regarding the demographics, spending habits, interests and preferences of people in different cities. Accessing and leveraging this information is also so much easier.

  1. Leveling the Playing Field

When every change to the way businesses run is added up, the result is a leveling of the playing field.

A few decades ago, major companies had an enormous advantage over newcomers in the market. While there is still a dominance in many industries by huge corporations, it is easier for a new business to make an impression.

The internet and connectivity ensures that reaching a wide audience is possible on a shoestring budget. Companies can launch Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns to get financing for new products.And there is no sign of a slowdown.

Technology is only evolving and becoming more efficient. With 5G internet speeds, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other tech, the business landscape may look completely different a decade or two from now.