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Internet Vs. Intranet Vs. Extranet: A Guideon 8 October 2020Posted by Kevin Senior
It’s fair to assume that everyone knows about the internet. It’s a part of our daily lives, and has been for over two decades.
Everyone may not be clear on exactly how the internet works, but they do know what it can do for them—connect them to others through social media, offer access to shop online, provide a platform to sell their services to clients across the world, and much more.
The same understanding can’t be extended to an intranet, which tends to be a term shrouded in mystery. Most people simply assume that the internet and intranet are the same, only spelled differently (or misspelled). However, these two terms actually refer to significantly different things. Below, we compare internet and intranet technologies—and introduce the related concept of the extranet—to clear up the distinctions.
Differences Between Internet, Intranet, and Extranet
In technical terms, the internet is a network system—including hardware and software—that spans the globe; hence why it’s often referred to as the “world wide web.” (However, the world wide web is actually a service communicated over the internet, so the terms are not interchangeable.) The internet enables worldwide communication, online services like email and video stream, and access to digital resources through networks that span public, private, and government spaces. (If you want a deeper dive into what exactly the internet is, check out this video.)
An intranet is a technology solution organisations can use to enable their employees to securely connect, communicate, and collaborate with one another. It’s a connection hub for the people in your business, and is only accessible to the company and its employees (and sometimes contractors).
An extranet is very similar to an intranet in terms of being limited to a specific audience; only in this case that audience includes third parties (customers, vendors, etc.) instead of just your employees. Much like with an intranet, your customers can securely connect, communicate, and collaborate with you and your team. Customer portals are great examples of extranets.
Internet Vs. Intranet Vs. Extranet
Considering the above definitions, the internet, intranets, and extranets all have some key commonalities:
- The focus is on connecting people.
- They provide a means to communicate.
- They enable services people find valuable.
However, there are several important distinctions in the way these technologies accomplish the preceding list.
The main difference in internet vs. intranet (and extranet, for that matter) is around access. While anyone with an internet connection can access the internet, the same isn’t true for intranets or extranets. The latter two technologies are purposely designed to limit access to approved internal and external parties. This is typically to safeguard sensitive or confidential information such as intellectual property and private communications.
The difference in access also underpins another distinction: intent. Chris Andretta, telecom sales rep for Tech Connectivity, says that, if you’re using the internet, your intent is typically to reach as many people as possible. In contrast, your intent with an intranet or extranet is to reach only a specific subset of people.
Andretta provides a few examples of content you might share on the internet:
- A list of your services
- A blog post on the latest trends in your industry
- Helpful product guides
- Promotional offers
- How-to videos
Intranet examples are typically tailored for your employee base:
- Standard procedures for customer service, sales, marketing, finance, and other internal departments
- Templates and forms for human resources
- Company news and event information for employees
Extranet examples are likely geared toward your clients:
- Deliverables relevant to your line of business such as marketing plans or design concepts
- Status updates
- Bill statements
- Legal documents like NDAs
“In short, sharing on the internet is about max reach. Sharing on an intranet or extranet is about the right reach,” Andretta explains.
Get an intranet-extranet solution that keeps your entire organisation—and clients—in the loop. Start your free trial of Glasscubes today.
4 Reasons You Should Use An Intranet (& Extranet!)
1. They support the standardisation of operations.
Andretta says intranets are great tools for ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding operations. “Whether you have a small office or a global brand, intranets are where you should store your company’s guides and templates, which standardise the way your company (and its employees) go about business.”
Instead of having to search for a physical version of the employee handbook—that’s probably out of date—your workforce can just log onto the company intranet and refer to the latest version (assuming your intranet has automatic version control). Plus, if there are any important process changes, you can use your intranet to announce these to your entire workforce and keep your business running like a well-oiled machine.
2. They help you prepare for growth.
“Standardisation helps you prepare for growth,” says Andretta. “If individual employees are recreating the wheel each time they encounter a situation, then the company will be sluggish and unable to grow. By figuring out the best way to approach situations and sharing those tools and processes in the intranet, the company will be better poised for scaling the business.”
3. They increase productivity.
A lot of time is wasted in searching for documents or other important resources. The more time employees spend searching, the less time they have available to perform their job duties. “Therefore, it’s important that employees have a centralized location to find what they need, quickly and easily. Intranets accomplish this goal,” says Andretta.
In lieu of a centralized locale for resources, employees will wind up aimlessly searching for a document, interrupting coworkers from their duties, or recreating what they’re looking for. “All these activities are inefficient and not a good use of employees’ time. In addition, involving coworkers in the search will not only delay their work, but could also introduce errors from interrupted concentration,” Andretta explains.
4. They help promote brand loyalty.
Many intranets and extranets enable you to white label the look and feel of the platform so that employees and clients alike will be constantly exposed to your brand when using the solutions. Rather than simply facilitating information sharing, intranets and extranets can also act as valuable brand-building tools. For example, employee turnover and employer brand are connected—research shows that a strong employer brand can reduce an organisation’s turnover by 28%. Similarly, such brand-building efforts can help increase client retention.
Want your employees and clients to collaborate efficiently? Try Glasscubes.
The internet is great for cute cat videos and selling your services, but intranets and extranets are valuable tools to keep your business running smoothly. Glasscubes combines elements of both intranets and extranets to enable collaboration, and gives you and your team a means to communicate, share information, and more—all in one place.
Create a dedicated workspace for employees in each department, one for employees working on a specific client project, or one for each of your vendor partnerships. You can create whatever unique workspace you need, whenever you want.
Whether you work remotely or in the office, with Glasscubes, you can:
- Store and share files in a secure location, complete with automatic version control. You can even create approval workflows and view clear audit trails of user actions.
- Assign and manage tasks for different members of the team, and track them to completion.
- Create customised workspaces for each project team in your portfolio. Team members can share resources and communicate with one another in their specific workspace, and you can access them all for easy oversight.
Take advantage of all the business-efficiency features Glasscubes has to offer. Start your free trial today.
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