Being in the digital workplace sector, we talk a lot about all the different platforms we offer and how they can transform the way you work for the better. This is fine (and true!) but sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the complexity of technical or industry jargon and forget that the fundamentals need attention too.
With this in mind, we aim to define exactly what an intranet and an extranet are, how they can benefit your business, and explain the differences between intranets vs extranets.
In a general sense, both intranets and extranets are online portals which can be utilised in any business or sector, which aim to reduce the amount of time spent completing everyday tasks, enhance productivity, and improve communication. But this is just the beginning; both services have their own unique benefits, and can offer so much more:
What are the differences between intranets and extranets?
What is intranet software?
Traditionally, intranet software was a static platform for information sharing, but a lot has changed since their initial inception. Now seen as a significant part of a wider digital workplace, an intranet software platform will primarily consist of social, collaborative, and information management features.
These will include essential applications such as calendar management, a Document Management System (DMS), and a Content Management System (intranet CMS), as well as HR functions such as a holiday management app and staff directory.
Most importantly, however, an intranet platform is, as the name suggests, a system which is accessed internally.
Ultimately, an intranet is a secure and private network portal for your employees and will be situated within your business framework to allow your staff to connect, communicate, and collaborate. An intranet will be used for all matters which relate to the company, with only those who work within the business allowed to have access.
Intranets allow employees to work together in a secure and productive environment, facilitating open communication, efficient information sharing, and streamlined processes in one private and central space. Staff members who work remotely can still work as effectively as they could if they were in the office; all the data they need will be stored in the company intranet and communicating to their colleagues is as easy as a click of a mouse.
Employees can also put their own stamp on the system thanks to intranet CMS and design tools that offer customisation features such as drag & drop intranet widgets, styling options, and multiple intranet themes.
What is extranet software?
Extranet software, unsurprisingly, is an online portal that can be accessed externally. The important thing to bear in mind is that extranets exist to create a path of communication between your internal staff and external organisations, whether they be customers, suppliers, or business partners.
An extranet provides a place for your business and third parties to work together and share information in a secure environment, which sits outside of your intranet – meaning that external partners will not have access to confidential internal matters.
From a customer’s point of view especially, utilising an extranet shows a profound sense of commitment from your business, as they are provided a place to communicate directly with you and build a blossoming relationship. For business partners or suppliers, extranets allow for easy data transfer and knowledge sharing, as well as an efficient way to collaborate and brainstorm on common tasks, saving time and eliminating the need for endless emails.
How do intranets and extranets work together?
Whilst initially the concept of intranets and extranets were seen as two separate units of software with no connection bridging the two, in today’s modern digital workplace, this is no longer the case. Advanced software combines the two into one integrated digital workplace, where intranets and extranets can sit within the same platform and work together in harmony.
This means there is no longer a need for complicated custom integration between the separate entities, yet the benefits of each are still present.
Visualisation of an intranet and extranet in your business
The digital workplace is constantly evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of businesses, and integrated intranet and extranet functionality is yet another step in the right direction towards a more productive and efficient workplace.