Intranet vs Extranet – What is the difference?
While an intranet is a private space only accessible by users with permission, an extranet is an extension to an intranet, and a semi-public space that contractors or third-parties can access. A common intranet example is a local area network, or LAN. Company intranet is a common sight for many businesses.
The purpose of an extranet is to provide third parties, or even customers, with access to some features while restricting greater access to the organization at large. Depending on the purpose of the extranet, some users that can use the intranet might not have access to the extranet features.
Intranet software is still used by a lot of organizations and businesses, and we’ll be focusing on its uses and capabilities.
An intranet is incredibly useful for an organization that relies on digital communication between multiple departments. It allows greater workplace flexibility, letting remote employees keep up with the day-to-day office work. It uses the same internet protocol suite as online services do as a means of communication.
Some organizations provide their intranets with additional features. These features can often entice their workers into sharing more parts about their jobs and personal lives, and helps energize company culture. By offering social media-lite services to an intranet, it encourages engagement between members. As such, a lot of intranets are run by HR or Information departments.
Intranets can also be used as a tool to induce culture-change within an organization. Important issues can be discussed by all members of the intranet. Data gathered from these online communications will be used to enhance productivity and efficiency.
Most common and useful Intranet features
Intranets aren’t just a means to privately communicate work issues, some have evolved into what could be mistaken for social media platforms. For businesses and corporations that want to retain workers, data gathered from a socially enhanced intranet can be invaluable. A digital workplace that’s also adaptable and is loaded with other features is incredibly desirable for many businesses. Here are some of the most common and useful features an intranet can have.
Social media is a powerful tool with a plethora of different uses. By making internal communications via intranet as easy as they are on a social media platform, it immediately encourages more interaction from workers. The ease of communication will also help workers feel like their voices are actually heard in the company, boosting employee recognition. Important company news can also be spread incredibly quickly via Intranet with social media settings.
It’s far easier to change company culture through a social media-like intranet hub. If set up correctly and with enough content to engage readers, employees could be posting on the intranet daily. A corporate intranet with a full development team behind it can keep employee engagement at an all time high.
A lot of intranets are accessible via phone app. By providing this extra level of accessibility, productivity and efficiency will improve. Being able to access company details no matter where a person is in the world is a vital tool for remote workers. Using private intranet is a useful addition to any user’s communication tools.
Analytics and data are how companies change for the better (or for the worse). Once the required internal data has been harvested and collected, it’s much easier to discern what parts of the organization are received warmly, and what parts are received with animosity.
Once the data has been analyzed, it can be used to increase workplace engagement with company-wide changes. The analytics gathered from an intranet make it easier for company knowledge management.
A massive company with tens of thousands of workers will have an intranet purely by necessity. With so many user profiles, it could be paramount to get in touch with someone in an instant, or to get hold of a file desperately needed. With a search function built into intranet software, it makes finding specific information much simpler.
The best intranet is an intranet that features many benefits. Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to modern technology. The more customizable software is, the more desirable it is for potential customers.
Advantages and disadvantages of Intranet
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to relying on an intranet. Private networks are powerful security tools. Even a restricted network that most intranets can provide has specific uses. Ultimately, it’s entirely dependent on how an organization is run, and whether or not an intranet would enhance productivity or merely bog workers down with another process to slow their work day down.
- Connects all employees. A company works more efficiently when workers can easily connect with each other.
- Analytics data. The data can be used to target specific parts of an organization that might need improvement, that otherwise would have gone unnoticed.
- Secure storage. A secure intranet is the perfect place for sensitive file storage and sending private messages. By only allowing authorized employees access, the chances for corporate foul play are reduced. Businesses with important files that are easily accessed are a hacker’s dream.
- Not all intranets are the same. The capabilities of an intranet are entirely dependent on how the developers are told to create it. Some organizations will have a bare bones intranet purely for file sharing purposes. Others won’t even have mobile capabilities, limiting workers to sitting behind a desk.
- Rare software updates. A lot of apps get updates on a fairly regular schedule. Intranets, however, can take years between updates. Potential security issues could go unnoticed for long stretches of time.
Intranet best practices for security and safety
Intranets suffer the same security vulnerabilities that a lot of software suffers from. Social engineering is the downfall of intranets and secure networking. With an enormous amount of workers, the chance of one of them falling victim to socially engineered hacker tactics is much higher than it would be at a smaller company. Company information could still be on the line without the proper cybersecurity practices.
Luckily, an intranet is also the ideal tool for making workers aware of the potential security threats. Regularly updating employees with cybersecurity tips and tricks needs to take priority.
So is Intranet still relevant?
For some organizations and companies, modern intranets are absolutely relevant and necessary to keep day-to-day functions running smoothly. A digital workplace helps productivity and communication. Depending on how many features a company gives to their intranet, it could essentially be a company-branded social media platform. The best intranets will have a wide-range of features.
For others, traditional intranets just aren’t necessary and can bog down processes with unnecessary steps. For smaller businesses, an intranet isn’t needed.