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12.1 Introduction

There’s all sorts of hidden magic happening whenever you connect to the Internet. But what really makes it possible for you to reach servers halfway around the world in just a fraction of a second? Knowing this is not only flat-out fascinating stuff; it’s also critically important for today’s manager to have at least a working knowledge of how the Internet functions.

That’s because the Internet is a platform of possibilities and a business enabler. Understanding how the Internet and networking works can help you brainstorm new products and services and understand roadblocks that might limit turning your ideas into reality. Marketing professionals who know how the Internet reaches consumers have a better understanding of how technologies can be used to find and target customers. Finance firms that rely on trading speed to move billions in the blink of an eye need to master Internet infrastructure to avoid being swept aside by more nimble market movers. And knowing how the Internet works helps all managers understand where their firms are vulnerable. In most industries today, if your network goes down then you might as well shut your doors and go home; it’s nearly impossible to get anything done if you can’t get online. Managers who know the Net are prepared to take the appropriate steps to secure their firms and keep their organization constantly connected.