Online processing refers to a method of transaction where companies can use an interface, usually through the Internet, to take product orders and handle payments from customers. Online processing is very popular because it can increase the efficiency of a company's sales operations and allow users to communicate with the online interface for their own needs.
Online processing can be very costly, however. If the system crashes, for instance, the downtime can cost companies their sales operation and greatly affect business.
Online processing is actually one of three processes that businesses can use, the other two being batch processing and real-time processing. Batch processing is when a certain number of jobs or tasks are processed by a computer program all at once instead of being handled individually. Batch processing is commonly used for producing utility bills, payroll statements and credit card processes.
Real-time processing is very similar to online processing, but it differentiates in that it uses sensors rather than human input in order to obtain and process its data. This type of processing is commonly used with control systems and can be very useful in that it operates without delays. This type of processing can be found on aircraft warning systems, guided missiles, burglar alarms and flood warning systems.