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Snap Poll: Web deeply altered ways of business

Twenty-five years ago this month, the World Wide Web debuted as a publicly available service on the internet. And 95 percent of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say it changed the way they do business.

Nearly 80 percent said it changed their business very much, compared to 1 percent who said it has had no impact.

On Aug. 6, 1991, British scientist Tim Berners-Lee gave a brief description of the web in an internet posting. On Aug. 23, the web was open to new users.

Berners-Lee is credited with inventing the web, which combined hypertext with the internet, which dates to the 1950s. He authored the web’s basic tools such as the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), the HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and Uniform Resource Location (URL), and built the first web server and browser. The first website and server went live on Dec. 20, 1990, at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland, where Berners-Lee worked.

Growth of the web was spurred in 1993 when CERN put the web software in the public domain and the University of Illinois released the Mosaic browser, which worked easily on both PCs and Macintosh computers. In 1994, Amazon.com—one of the earliest web-based businesses and today among the world’s most valuable companies—was launched.

A plurality of Snap Poll respondents—45 percent—says less than 10 percent of their firm’s annual revenues are generated online. This compares with 12 percent that generate 75 percent or more of their sales online.

As of last month, there were 1,073,777,722 websites globally, according to the British firm Netcraft.

Roughly 290 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Aug. 22 and 23.

How much has the web changed the way you do business?
Very much: 79 percent
Somewhat: 17 percent
Not very much: 4 percent
Not at all: 1 percent

Today, what percentage of your firm’s annual revenue is generated online?
Less than 10%: 45 percent
10% to 24%: 22 percent
25% to 49%: 14 percent
50% to 74%: 7 percent
75% or more: 12 percent

COMMENTS:
The web is my business. The web is my future.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D., Vanguard Psychiatric Services PC

Greatest creation since the wheel!
—Mark Williams

The web has changed the way I do business in two significant ways: 1) I spend at least an hour a day learning in my field due to all the rich content so accessible. 2) My consumer base is now global, and our voices can travel distances we never thought imaginable.
—Jennifer Sertl, founder, Agility3R

I’m so old, I remember carbon paper! I think I’ll take a nap now.
—John Gleason, Gleason Fund Raising Consulting

Purchasing products; not much as a revenue source, more as an informational and communication resource.
—G. Palis

Boy, do I look forward to reading everyone else’s replies to this question. The change eclipses anything I could have imagined.
—Dorver Kendig, Webster

As the town supervisor of the town of Brighton, the internet is absolutely essential for communicating with our residents and in nearly every component of our work. Although a relatively small portion of our revenues are generated online, the internet has transformed every aspect of how we work for the people of Brighton, from our telephone network to our social media presence to the wealth of information about the town and how to do business with the town on our webpage and so much more. I look forward to seeing how the internet continues to transform how local government works over the next 25 years.
—Bill Moehle, town supervisor, town of Brighton

Although I am no longer “in the heat of things,” all material I read and from conversations with former employees, vendors, suppliers and, yes, former customers, all indications are the basics are still the same, but CHANGE is inevitable to deal with the change with age groups.
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield

The biggest change for consultants like me is the ability to work almost as efficiently remotely as onsite. With today’s internet tools, meetings and other types of collaboration can easily take place from anywhere in the world. This saves the client significant travel expenses and the consultant the inconvenience of 100 percent travel.
—John Midolo, managing partner, RCM Strategies LLC

It’s simple: If you’re not online, you’re invisible. Period.
—Rich Calabrese Jr., Rochester

The pace of innovation the web has enabled is incredible. I remember bulletin boards and how leading edge they were. Throw in email, which the web proliferated with the infrastructure to connect anywhere in the world. I have been involved with computers and programming since 1979 and the first true innovation was the personal computer followed by the internet.
—Carlo Jannotti, Vermonix

As a brand strategy consultant, it was imperative for me to keep up with online marketing and social media. Today, more than 80 percent of my business is driven via our online blogs, (which) together have more than 50,000 subscribers. When people have brand strategy needs, they call upon us first because they have grown to know and trust us over the years through our blog posts. This has also taken my business global from Accra, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur to Bogota, Jakarta and Zurich.
—Brad VanAuken, president and founder, BrandForward Inc.

8/26/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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