Internet vs intranet and how both can benefit businesses
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In the age of information, caring about digital assets is no longer a luxury but a necessity for businesses. Dealing with technical jargon can leave business owners wondering how to best set up their internal networks in a way that is both cost-effective and efficient. WonderNet offers a home internet package, called The Home Office for remote working.

Is it better to use the internet – a global network that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere? Or is an intranet the best choice? Let’s start by looking at what exactly the difference is between the two, and how they can help business owners to take their operations to the next level. 

Internet vs intranet: What’s the difference?

The internet, or World Wide Web, is a public network. Almost 60% of the world’s population are active internet users. With around 4.66 billion people online, the internet has become the world’s largest network that is only set to grow as more and more people gain access. 

An intranet is similar to the internet but on a much smaller scale. Intranets are closed networks that have restricted access. Intranets are commonly used by businesses, universities, or other organisations looking to keep certain information and communications internal. They are only accessible to specific users with the right permissions.

While the internet is a worldwide system, an intranet is a local-only network that is designed to support internal knowledge sharing and collaboration. Having an intranet can support business communications, daily operations and the storage of data. 

It can also help to share information among employees and create a sense of community for the workforce. Intranet networks can include remote access for employees working from home and can connect multiple offices or branches using the same network.  

How can the internet benefit your business?

The internet is now so much more than a platform for users to share and store information. It has the capability to be used as a dynamic self-learning system that can analyse data, make predictions and adapt to changing external conditions. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interconnected devices that relies on data-driven technologies to bring more automation to homes and businesses around the world. 

From smart heating systems to Alexa-style digital assistants, IoT is fast becoming a digital staple. By collecting data from sensors, these systems can automate certain processes, such as setting up alerts for when certain parts need to be replaced. Monitoring systems for maintenance issues can help prevent system shutdowns leading to delays in business operations or production. 

The IoT is increasingly being used by businesses to track supply chains, providing valuable feedback to suppliers and distributors. Tracking goods using an IoT supply chain brings more transparency to international logistics – an area that has faced massive disruption in recent years.

How can an intranet benefit your businesses?

Like the internet, an intranet system can help promote collaboration and give users better access to information. As a closed system, information is kept private and users outside of the network do not have access. This means better security for businesses and helps to prevent issues, such as data breaches. 

By setting up permissions and configuring access, employees can have different levels of access. For example, senior management can be given free rein, while new recruits are given limited access. Setting up an intranet can be costly in terms of installation, but it can lead to cost savings in terms of accelerated performance and error reduction. 

Intranet can give staff easy access to the tools and resources they need to do their jobs. Employees don’t need to jump around on different platforms to access information. New employees need less training if everything they need is in one place. Management can monitor workflows and set priorities. 

Centralised procedures and policies can help to improve collaboration and decrease the risk of error. An example of this would be brand consistency; by putting the latest version of marketing materials on the intranet, all users have access to the most up-to-date high-resolution versions. Messages can be broadcast on the intranet to alert staff to problems. This results in faster mobilisation to resolve issues and deal with crises as they arise. 

What do businesses need to know about intranet?

Considering some of the drawbacks of intranets can help business leaders decide whether it is really needed. With cloud-based systems taking the internet to new heights, many of the collaborative and information-sharing benefits of an intranet become redundant. Some intranet systems have poor user experience, leaving employees feeling confused rather than confident. 

Highly customised intranets can be expensive to implement and out of the budget of many small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). If users are not properly trained, they may end up not using the system very much. It can be difficult to measure the success and effectiveness of an intranet system, so it is important to do a full cost-benefit analysis before deciding to implement an intranet. 

One argument for having an intranet system is that it can speed up processes. Since intranet is a closed system, there is significantly less data traffic compared to traffic running on the internet. However, advances in fibre connectivity give businesses access to ultrafast speeds that allow for instant file sharing and seamless HD video conferencing. Of course, the size of the business does need to be taken into consideration, and whether having a closed network is necessary for information confidentiality purposes. 

Do businesses need both the internet and an intranet?

For smaller businesses, having intranet is an unnecessary expense unless there is a specific reason to set up a closed network. With so many web-based project management and HR consoles available, the internet can perform many of the functions of an intranet. Using cloud-based apps can promote virtual collaboration and file sharing, making the need for an intranet somewhat redundant. 

High-speed connectivity, such as that provided by WonderNet, means that businesses can enjoy instant access to their files, without needing to limit the amount of data traffic. That being said, for businesses that require highly restricted access, an intranet may be relevant to their needs. Some businesses are still using intranets to facilitate specific business operations on a closed network. 

If the intranet is well-designed, then it can support employees in their work and contribute to better cybersecurity because only authorised users have access. For more information about our fibre offerings or to get a quote for an internet upgrade, please contact us today or check if we’re connected to your address.

WonderNet brings affordable broadband internet to South African homes. We work alongside leading fibre network providers to maximise our reach and to offer fast, reliable and secure internet connectivity to your home. We are owned by SEACOM; one of Africa’s top information and communications technology (ICT) companies with an expansive network of subsea cables, landlines and fibre connections. WonderNet strives to offer the best customer service in the country. We will go above and beyond to ensure that our customers are satisfied with their internet access.

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