13 March 2008

Dark nets

Some scientists believe that the universe consists of about 5% matter and energy as we know it. The rest is made up of "dark matter." No-one really knows what it is, but they all know that there is a lot of it.

The internet is bit like this. Some people think that the part of the internet that the public can see is maybe 10% of all the internet. The rest is called the "dark net."

What is this "dark net"? It's not as sinister as you might think.

The dark net is just a part of the internet that is locked behind a password. Think of your internet banking. All your accounts and transactions are available on the internet, yet only you can see it, because only you have the password.

No-one else can see your information. Not even the all-powerful Google. So your account information is on the net, but is not visible. It is dark.

Why is there so much darkness to the net then? Well people use the internet for a whole lot more than just browsing a few websites, and buying stuff from Amazon.com.

Companies have intranets and extranets. Supply chains have visibility upstream and downstream. Closed communities share ideas and information.

This is where the real power of the internet lies. Think about this: If you are a wholesaler who sells your product through retailers. How do you communicate with them?

Do you send them catalogues? How do they know when you have a promotion? Do you fax them? When you launch a new product, how do you effectively communicate with them?

How do your wholesalers order goods from you? Do they fill out an order sheet and fax it through? What if their order sheet does not have your new range on them? Do you loose sales?

Now imagine if you had an extranet. That's just a fancy word for saying a "dark net" that you and your wholesalers can access. No-one else on the whole internet can access this information.

When your wholesaler logs in with their unique username and password, they immediately see a page with your news. This can be a new product range, or a promotion you are running.

Your wholesaler can also immediately see their order history, and even which orders are on their way. And when he wants to place an order, he does it online. And the online order form has all your current products on it, with current prices. No mistakes, no hassles.

When your wholesaler places an order on the extranet, it immeiately notifies you either on email or sms, or both. What a pleasure! Just imagine how much better your service can be, when the orders come looking for you!

When you package all the products, and are ready to send, you update the system, and it automatically notifies both your wholesaler and the courier company! Now everyone knows what's going on all the time!

And that's just the start of what can be done. There's a whole other world "out there"

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