The importance of intranet in business has increased over the years. It started as a place to get company-related news, with evolution intranet today can offer a shared platform where employees can communicate with each other, share documents and files and handle tasks together.
At the same time, the role of the extranet has been to keep external business associates like clients and vendors informed and on the same page with regard to various projects.
Though intranet and extranet may look similar in their functions and role, they both have some distinguishing advantages and possible disadvantages. Let us understand more about intranet and extranet and their advantages and disadvantages before you decide which is the best solution for your business.
What is Intranet?
An intranet is a private network, which is designed to support the organization’s employees to communicate, share and work together as a team as they perform their individual roles.
It is a private network accessible only by authorized users’ e.g. only employees of the company. Intra means “internal” which implies that the intranet is designed for catering to the internal needs of a company. For example, an intranet can be created so that employees can securely share messages and files with each other.
What is Extranet?
An Extranet can be termed as an intranet that offers partial access to authorized users outside the organization, enabling business associates to share and access information over the internet securely.
In simple words, it is a private network which uses internet technology and public telecommunication system to share restricted company information and data with suppliers, vendors, clients, etc. securely.
Intranet vs. Extranet: Advantage and Disadvantages of Intranet and Extranet
Advantages of Intranet
Intranet reduces the cost of information sharing within the organization. The subscription fees for availing intranet services for the whole organization are very low. Moreover, there is no cost involved in maintenance, printing and others.
With intranet employees of an organization can access information and work on it from anywhere and anytime. Employees need not be present in the office, they can access their office desktop or a network from anywhere in the world. This easy accessibility makes working easier for employees who are constantly traveling for business purposes.
Intranet facilitates an easy, cost-effective and quick way of communication within the organization. Regardless of the location, the intranet allows employees to edit, comment and store information that can be accessed anytime in the future when required.
Intranet offers the option of chats, groups and emails which facilitates employees to freely express their opinions and to share information with their colleagues or managers.
Intranet helps boost the productivity of an organization as it helps in keeping all the information readily available for the employees. This helps in saving their time and making it easy for them to find the required information and data when required. Timely access to information helps in improving the efficiency of work.
Disadvantages of Intranet
- Implementation Process
The implementation cost of the intranet is usually high, the cost depends on the type of intranet solution availed and the number of users accessing it.
Moreover, training needs to be provided to the employees on how to use the intranet, the software and hardware infrastructure needs to be upgraded. All these things require time and effort which makes the implementation process costly and time-consuming.
Intranets are considered to be complicated in nature. Because of its complex nature, several employees feel overwhelmed and are hesitant to use it.
Even though the intranet systems come with several security measures, it is still vulnerable to security risks. Unless the intranet is well secure with firewalls, your company’s or employee’s private information can be accessed by an outsider. Intranet increases the chance of a privacy breach.
Intranets require regular checking and management. Employees need to be specially trained to manage the software and ensure it is functioning properly.
Advantages of Extranet
- Saves time
With the help of Extranet, an organization can easily share information with its clients, vendors and other business associates. It saves time involved in exchanging several emails or calls.
Extranet offers a lot of flexibility to the clients and associates; by allowing them access to information anytime from anywhere.
They don’t require to log in at a specific time or share information when everyone is available. Information can be shared or uploaded anytime and can be accessed anytime in the future when required. This helps in the better exchange of information.
With the flexibility provided by the extranet, a lot of time is saved. This helps improve the productivity of the people involved and the business overall. Today where every minute counts and time is called money, an extranet helps save time which results in huge gains for an organization.
Extranet reduces the possibility of a margin of error substantially. Since a single portal is used by all business associates and employees, the chances of loss of information or misrepresentation are reduced considerably.
The exchange of multiple emails can corrupt a file or by mistake, the information could be shared with unrelated people. An Extranet allows direct exchange of information ensuring that correct information is passed to the right people.
Extranet helps in sharing information securely since only limited information is shared over the extranet; this ensures that not everyone is able to access all the information.
Disadvantages of Extranet
Additionally, maintenance and repair in case of break down are separate expenses. Though the implementation of the extranet can help reduce the expenses in other areas over a period of time, the initial investment for the extranet is high.
Maintenance of the extranet is expensive and requires professional training. To acquire the maximum benefits of an extranet, the company will need to employ specially trained and experienced employees to maintain it. Additionally one needs to invest in purchasing of hardware and software to support extranet.
- Security and Protection
All through the extranet contains several security measures, the data can be compromised if it is not maintained or handled properly.
Mishandling of data can happen both within the organization and while access by third parties like vendors, clients, etc. Sensitive information like ID and password can be illegally misused if fallen into the wrong hands.
- User Friendliness
Several features of the extranet are not exactly user-friendly. There can be certain features, integrations and customizations which may not be appealing to everyone. There may be many features that are complicated and the users are not comfortable using them. Proper training needs to be given to make all the users comfortable using Extranet efficiently.
Choosing the right technology for your business
Now that you have learned about what is intranet and extranet and what are the advantages and disadvantages of intranet and extranet, you can analyze your business needs and choose the right technology for your business.
If you are looking at a platform for communication and sharing for your employees, Intranet is the answer to your requirement. If you are looking for a platform where your employees can communicate securely on a private network with your business associates like vendors, clients etc then you should opt for Extranet.