Internet Vs intranet Vs extranet: The key differences

Learn the difference between internet, intranet, and extranet and discover how to use each for your business.

Internet, intranet, extranet — potato, po-tah-to, right?

Not really. 

Each describes a different type of network, and while they all sound similar, they have vastly different security implications and business uses. 

So, before you go off and share essential company documents, make sure you know the difference. Understanding how to use each network will keep your resources secure and in the right place.

Intranet vs Internet explained

An intranet is a local private network that only people within the organization can access. It’s a restricted network mainly used to share files and information securely within an organisation.  The Internet, however, is a global collection of computer networks known as the world wide web, accessible by anyone.

What is the difference between the internet and intranet?

The main difference between the intranet and the internet is that the internet is a global collection of computer networks known as the world wide web. On the other hand, an intranet is an online network only company employees can access. While internet protocol and world wide web standards provide the core framework for both of these online platforms, the intranet is a closed system that only employees can access.

Extranet vs Intranet

As explained above an intranet is a local network that is only accessible by employees of an organisation.  Extranets fall in the middle since they allow for some connections outside of the company, but they’re not available to the public. It lets approved third parties (such as vendors or customers) access restricted information.

Internet vs intranet vs extranet

Each of these three network types allows for a wide variety of business uses, but the type of information shared on each network determines its security requirements. This means that you only want to be sharing highly confidential information on your intranet, while less sensitive data can be shared on an extranet.

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Why companies use intranet

For some of you, the term “intranet” might seem dated. It may bring up images of clunky file management structures created by an invisible IT department. However, modern, mobile intranet solutions help businesses stay secure, productive, and connected, especially as remote work becomes more common.

Specific examples of when frontline workers or remote teams may need access to secure information might include accessing customer order details, reviewing financial reports with your accounting team, or collaborating on new product development.

In all these cases, a controlled private network or mobile intranet app can help companies stay productive and keep customer data secure. Here’s a look at some ways a modern employee intranet can benefit your company:

  • Streamlined knowledge management. Companies can securely store and share important documents that help everyone get their work done, including frontline workers and remote teams.
  • Network security: The best Intranet software and web servers provide an additional level of security to the connected devices and their data. While an internet firewall provides a level of protection to the computers connected, private servers protect intranet connections so that only the right people can access the network.
  • Improved internal communications. With a secure intranet, you can make sure all workers receive company-wide updates and interact together.
  • Boosted productivity and collaboration. A modern intranet lets your teams use private messages and threads to communicate better and collaborate on projects over a secure network. 

Modern company intranet solutions like Blink offer activity feeds, private messaging, and mobile apps that keep employees connected. You can even track user activity and use workforce insights to measure employee engagement.

Blink’s modern intranet app.

Why companies use extranet

Companies use extranets to give customers or vendors access to secure information. It’s a way to share and collaborate with them. If you have a customer who places regular orders from your business, you can create a secure extranet that lets them update orders, process invoices, and message your team. 

An extranet can be an essential component of a strong data management strategy, as it lets businesses share information with trusted partners and customers without compromising security. In addition to enabling secure collaboration and communication, extranets also help organizations comply with data-sharing regulations like GDPR.

If you’re looking for a reliable way to share sensitive data with your customers or vendors, consider using digital tools that allow for secure extranet access. With the right setup, you can easily share information with customers and reliably meet data compliance regulations.

Some specific examples of when a frontline organization may need an extranet platform could include:

  • Sharing financial data with your auditors and key stakeholders
  • Providing customer support via a help desk
  • Collaborating on product development with engineering teams.

In all these cases, an extranet solution can help you stay productive and aligned with your partners.

Internet-hosted platform uses

Aside from the obvious day-to-day usage of the internet for browsing and email, many companies depend on the internet for mission critical employee functions. For example, many businesses rely on cloud-based software to run their business and manage employees, and that software often requires an internet connection.

Additionally, deskless teams may need reliable access to a specific web portal in order to communicate with vendors and customers. Frontline workers may also rely on the internet to access critical business information, such as customer databases or product manuals.

Some specific examples of when a company may need an internet solution could include:

  • Providing customer support via live chat or phone calls
  • Hosting virtual meetings and webinars with employees, partners, and clients
  • Delivering training materials to remote teams or workers in the field
  • Collaborating on projects with teammates and vendors across multiple locations
  • Maintaining a customer-facing website or online store.

In all of these cases, having reliable access to the internet can help your team stay connected and productive.

Which is right for my organization?

Organizations rely on both intranets and extranets to stay connected and productive, but which solution is right for your specific needs?

If you’re looking for a platform that lets you securely manage information with customers or vendors, an extranet may be the best choice. On the other hand, if you need a way to connect remote workers or desktop teams, an intranet may be a better fit.

To determine which solution is right for your organization, it’s important to consider the needs of your employees and customers. For example, if you need to collaborate with multiple partners or vendors across different locations, an extranet platform may be the best option.

It's also crucial to consider your wider organizational goals. Are you looking to drive employee engagement and retention levels by improving the communication and collaboration processes? If so, an intranet or employee engagement tool may be the better choice. If your goals for a digital platform are more outbound or customer-facing, an extranet platform may be the right fit.

Ultimately, it's important to take a holistic view of your needs and goals in order to choose the right platform for your organization. So talk to your team, do some research, and find the solution that best meets your unique requirements.

Have you considered a mobile app?

As our Downloadable Guide takes a deep dive into, a mobile app could be the perfect solution for your organization.

Mobile apps can offer a number of advantages for frontline workers in particular, including real-time communication and collaboration capabilities, access to business information and data on the go, and the ability to stay connected no matter where they are.

If you're looking for a way to improve employee productivity or customer service levels, it may be worth considering a mobile app for your organization. Talk to your team about your specific needs, and do some research on the different mobile app solutions available on the market today. With the right platform in place, you can help take your company to the next level! You can also download our free guide to find out more.

Final thoughts: internet, intranet and extranet — what’s the difference?

Simply put, not all company information should live on the internet. So, businesses can use an intranet as a digital workspace where employees can access resources, follow company updates, and connect. When you create a network that third parties can access, that’s called an extranet.

How can Blink help?

The Blink Frontline Engagement App is the ultimate employee network solution. With this cloud-based software platform, you can securely manage all your internal collaboration needs, including real-time communication and collaboration capabilities, access to business information and data on the go, and the ability to stay connected no matter where they are.

Developed by experts in the field, Blink is an intuitive, powerful platform that can help you improve employee productivity, retention rates and even customer satisfaction levels.

And with robust features like mobile capabilities, bulk messaging options, and instant feedback tools, it's the ultimate solution for today's modern workforce. So why not give it a try?

To learn more about how a modern intranet solution can support your digital workforce, explore Blink today.