Nowadays the terms intranet, extranet, and portal are often used interchangeably. It can, therefore, be very confusing to work out precisely what the differences are, let alone decide which option is the best for your organization. In this article, we’ll help you to understand what the terms really mean and in what situations the technologies are best applied. You’ll then be able to make an informed choice as to the best option for you.
In broad sense intranets, extranets and portals are the entire online tools that will help out to trim down the amount of time spent on carrying out everyday tasks enhance productivity in the workplace and improve communications. Any business or industry can take advantage of the profit that is on offer. There are, however, exclusive aspects to each option and so let’s look in detail at intranets, extranets, and portals.
An intranet is essentially an internal platform. It is a private, secured network accessible only to employees and is designed to facilitate connection, collaboration, and communication as well as streamlined business processes. The average intranet will consist of a number of standard features such as a document management system, staff directory, news blogs, company calendar, and newsletters. In fact, an intranet often quickly becomes fundamental to a company’s internal workings.
Businesses are using intranet applications for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s to deal with a particular pain point such as improving internal communications, promoting opportunities for collaboration across a dissimilar workforce or increasing employee engagement. Often it’s in response to a general need to make it easier to communicate and share documents within the company, to streamline day-to-day activity and to help organize people and data.
An extranet is a classified network that is intended for your company and team members to share information and data among particular external parties in a closed, virtual space. These external parties could be customers, suppliers, vendors etc. And so an extranet can be used for private communication, collaboration, as well as knowledge and document sharing. But perhaps the finest application of an extranet though is for transferring data between organizations. Extranet access is dissimilar to the intranet which means that external parties will not have access to confidential internal information and data.
Businesses have found a series of uses for extranets: from the university or college utilizing an extranet for the expense of fees and sharing of information with students and parents, to the car manufacturer using an extranet to enhance collaboration and communication with suppliers thereby streamlining the supply chain and saving many dollars. Extranets are as well a huge option for companies that require sharing information backward and forwards with clients and customers – such as a graphic design company, accountants or law firms – as it will save valuable time and resources in comparison to the more traditional media of emails or phone calls.
A portal is a gateway or window that allows you to interrelate with enterprise systems and applications. As well as bringing together your intranet and extranet, a portal can also join you to external enterprise systems and applications as well as access to selected public websites and vertical-market websites (suppliers, vendors, etc.).
From banks and accountants to colleges, universities and healthcare providers, even childcare centers, large many businesses and industries are utilizing portals, mainly in response to the challenges of information management that exist in all organizations. Many portals also recommend the possibility of customization and personalization for staff members. So instead of every employee accessing the full range of tools and apps that are obtainable through the portal, they can customize it to those that are pertinent to their role or team.
As we’ve seen, when it comes to intranets, extranets and portals there are some features that are common across the platforms, and there are others that are specific. Which option is the best one for your organization will largely depend on what your objectives are. It’s important to remember, however, that the options are not mutually exclusive. In fact, progressively more companies are utilizing software that seamlessly combines two or more of the options into one integrated digital platform. The end result is the same though: a more productive and efficient workplace.