We all have a general idea about the internet, but have you considered intranets or extranets for your business?

Intranet: Keep it to yourself

An intranet is a private network for internal company use only. An intranet allows only authorised users to read confidential business related information such as product development plans, spreadsheet budgets, or to duplicate your proprietary documents.

An intranet is kept within your businesses firewall. A good analogy of a firewall is a castle surrounded by a moat to depict an intranet: only when the drawbridge is down can traffic flow in or out — and a security guard is always checking information.

So, with all these restrictions, what goes on inside an intranet? These are the types of applications that are perfectly suited to the added security and privacy of an intranet:

Company directory

Project status reports

Budgets and forecasts

High-level reporting, such as customer satisfaction issues, and so on

Internal files that are meant for staff only


Internet: For the public

The Internet is the public web site, the 24/7 virtual front office. It’s primary audience is not internal staff, but customers and prospective customers. Think of your Internet presence as a big welcome mat.

Here are the types of information and services that are appropriate and important to company Internets:

Product and service information

Contact information (sales, service, investor relations, media relations etc)

Product and sales support

Value-add sections (news items, webblogs, mailing lists and other interactive areas)




Extranet: For your eyes only

Here’s the tricky one, the type of web site that people get confused about are extranets. Extranets are special web sites for partners, suppliers, and vendors. These people and organizations have a closer relationship with your business because of their contributions to your products and services, however, their access should certainly be more limited than company employees.

Think of an extranet like a lockbox that a real estate agent puts on a house. Inside is a key to the house. Only authorized realtors can open the lockbox with a special code. If the owners of the house want to restrict access to certain rooms, they can lock those rooms to prevent access.

Sometimes special clients or subscribers to premium services can be thought of as extranet users.


Below are a several other extranet applications you might want to consider:

Inventory checking for the sales force

Ordering information with special pricing

Partners network with private discussion groups or mailing lists

Templates for requisitions, work orders, or expenses

Searchable archives of a newsletter, journal, fund reports