Intranet Vs. Extranet Understanding The Differences

Intranet Vs. Extranet: Understanding the differences

Intranet and extranet. Two terms most often used by business executives, yet the most misunderstood too.

So, what exactly is the difference between an intranet and an extranet. An intranet is your internal collaboration ecosystem that helps employees communicate, share data, and build company culture. On the other hand, an extranet is similar in the sense that it is a private network, but it allows authorized partners, suppliers, clients, and others outside the company to access and collaborate with the staff within the organization.

To understand the differences better, let us delve deeper into the functionalities and benefits of both intranets and extranets.

Decoding Intranets

The term intra means inside or within. Consequently, an intranet is defined as a unified, digital workplace that brings together company-wide tools, employees, and data to streamline collaboration, communication, and connectivity within your organization.

While an extranet facilitates real-time collaboration with the business’s external stakeholders, i.e., clients and vendors, an intranet enables employees to coordinate on daily tasks and projects, organize and share knowledge, and enhance social engagement. They reduce the time to find pertinent information and resources and subsequently boost employee efficiency and productivity.

Packaged with features designed to make everyday working easy, modern intranets provide the following benefits to business –

1. Improved internal communication and collaboration

With social capabilities such as blogs, project management tools, and workspaces, everything essential to your project can be stored and shared on one integrated interface, freeing you from the hassle of switching between multiple apps and shuffling through hundreds of emails. Additionally, you can communicate in real-time – share news and obtain feedback – with colleagues and leaders using instant messaging apps. Everything is just a click away!

2. Smart document management

Modern intranets leverage artificial intelligence to create an intelligent content repository with uncluttered information, auto-tagging, and a powerful cognitive search engine, helping employees find relevant data quickly across all apps.

3. Personalized employee experiences

With AI-driven tailored content recommendations and push notifications, your staff will always be up-to-date with the latest project-related information, relevant company articles, and news. Moreover, detailed user profiling around behavioral patterns, search habits, roles, etc., helps connect employees with the right peers and subject-matter experts within the organization. Therefore, by rendering the right information at the right time to the right people, based on role, team, geography, tasks, etc., modern intranets personalize the overall employee experience.

4. Flexible app integration

An intranet brings together everyday applications like Workday, ServiceNow, SAP, Office 365, etc., on a unified interface, thereby saving valuable time and increasing employee efficiency.

5. Enhanced employee engagement

Modern intranets feature gamification-based idea management tools to foster innovation and encourage employees to develop solutions to everyday operational issues. Moreover, top employee badges featured on the intranet homepage motivate the staff and ensure positive employee engagement.

6. Information - at your fingertips!

With a responsive, user-friendly mobile-intranet app, employees can check work-related requirements and stay abreast of the latest news and updates, even outside the office, with instant push notifications. Moreover, chatbots integrated right within the intranet can draw-up the relevant information on demand.

In short, intranets are private digital employee networks that make daily staff activities more streamlined and productive.

Understanding Extranets

As the word suggests, an extranet is a private network that allows external parties, like your vendors, clients, partners, and suppliers, to connect with your staff. An extranet is like an extension of the intranet; however, it is separate from the intranet in the sense that external parties have access to limited elements only.

Extranets streamline communications with your customers, partners, and suppliers – making it easier and more secure to connect, brainstorm, and share data as compared to traditional emails.

Benefits of implementing extranets

  • Automates repetitive business processes – Suppose you provide extranet access to a regular supplier to monitor inventory and manage ordering. In such a scenario, stock can be replenished whenever supplies are running low, and invoices and other information can be stored in one place, saving time and making processes more efficient.
  • Enhances customer loyalty and retains partner engagement – Providing customers with greater control over their account and other information and 24/7 access enhances convenience as they can upload relevant documents, including signed agreements, approve product designs/service specifications, and ask queries, thus reducing the burden of the customer service staff and building customer loyalty and brand image. Moreover, keeping partners in the loop about the organization’s activities and progress deters them from losing interest in investing further.
  • Secure information-sharing – Sensitive and time-bound information like prices and inventory can be shared securely, in real-time, with the click of a button, thus reducing delays, data-leaks, and avoidable errors.

Be it an extranet or an intranet – each serves its purpose in building an interactive and engaged private community of employees, suppliers, and customers.

Digital Experience Platform (DXP)

A DXP is a unified platform with an integrated set of technologies, which combines digital workplace features such as content management, workflow management, search and navigation, mobile accessibility, and analytics across multiple digital touchpoints and enhances the organization’s agility and digital dexterity.

By extending your intranet to integrate it with your extranet, organizations can enable an authentic DXP experience. This way, your company can deliver most of the intranet’s collaboration features to your partners, clients, and customers, maintain consistent and connected databases, provide external parties access to the required data while ensuring any other sensitive information is securely stored.

How can Acuvate help?

At Acuvate, we help clients build a robust branded intranet with our Employee Experience Platform called Mesh 3.0.

Mesh boasts of the following advanced capabilities –

  1. Azure cognitive enterprise search
  2. AI-driven content personalizers
  3. Knowledge mining
  4. Expertise finder
  5. Multilingual capabilities
  6. Internal communication tools
  7. Collaboration tools

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, Mesh leverages the best of Microsoft technologies, including LUIS, Azure Search Services, Office Graph, and MS natural language stack. Since Mesh is built on SharePoint, its capabilities can be augmented by integrating it with extranets and customer portals developed on the Office 365 foundation.

To know more about Mesh, please feel free to schedule a personalized consultation with our experts.


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