Businesses today make decisions based mostly on information rather than tradition, a trend accelerated by the digital age. That’s because digital platforms enable organizations to interact with their audiences in new ways, and those interactions can be tracked in novel ways. Data — and the pursuit of it — drives more business decisions than ever. The amount of business conducted and information shared and consumed on digital platforms continues to grow, and companies that collect data about their customers’ experience see more revenue growth than those that don’t.
Brands know well the importance of having a customer-facing website to communicate and interact with their B2C or B2B audiences. But they may be losing out on the advantages of intranets and extranets, secure networks designed for sharing information, facilitating collaboration, assisting in sales and automating processes. Intranets serve an internal audience, such as employees, whereas extranets are a secure portal external audiences can sign into. Extranets are especially useful for companies that deal with wholesalers and distributors or organizations that collaborate with business partners and association members.
These valuable portals enable businesses to leverage data they already have by serving as a hub on which data can be analyzed. They also allow companies to gather new data through sales automation and connect and share information with internal and external audiences. Intranets and extranets can be customized to fit your organization’s exact needs.
“At Trilix, we consider the business intelligence or sales information an organization wants to gather or use,” said Brett Adams, chief marketing officer. “We ask about the key elements clients have on their wish list that would improve their operations, make a process more efficient, or make their sales or marketing more effective. An intranet or extranet helps deliver those business intelligence and sales tools.”
Here are some of the ways to take advantage of an intranet or extranet.
Good communication between coworkers and between employees and leadership increases employee engagement, satisfaction, retention, collaboration and productivity. Studies show that more workers prefer newer communication tools as opposed to email or team workspaces. Intranets can facilitate better communication.
An intranet “portal” can house employees’ internal instant messaging tools, project documents, human resources information, timecards, company updates and contact and out-of-office information. Instead of scattering information and work tools across multiple digital or traditional platforms and processes, employers can communicate and gather data about the workplace in one place. Employees can communicate and collaborate without voluminous emails, and remote employees can easily access vital company communications from afar.
In fact, 85 percent of survey respondents said the most significant benefit of an employee intranet was faster access to information. Improved productivity and a more cooperative work environment also ranked high on the list.
Not only can an intranet or extranet help your business’ sales team remain nimble, but it can also make your sales process more efficient by fostering collaboration. In fact, 91 percent of the top-performing sales organizations collaborate across departments. An intranet enables employees, distributors and any other members of a sales team to share and easily access sales tips, product sheets, prospect profiles and more.
Just as valuable as sharing information is sales process automation, a trend that is only expected to grow. Extranets can be used as a sales force automation, or SFA, platform where sales orders are processed, inventory surveyed, orders tracked and sales projections monitored. Additionally, SFA software can forecast leads, determining the likelihood that a lead will convert into a sale.
Intranets and extranets employed as a sales hub both leverage the information businesses already have and help gather new data to inform operations. With an intranet or extranet housing SFA, sales personnel — 71 percent of whom believe too much time is spent on data entry — will gain time to generate leads and secure sales.
The ability to leverage data and connect with partners and peers is paramount to success. Intranets and extranets can serve as a data portal for your business and allow your organization to connect with external audiences, which is particularly helpful for associations and businesses who work with third parties.
As much as 73 percent of data an organization has isn’t analyzed. Gone are the days of entering loads of data into spreadsheets only to have it linger on one person’s computer. Your business can use software hosted on an intranet or extranet to aggregate and exchange data, run reports and perform analysis, using that valuable information to inform your operations. Data security isn’t an issue since the intranet or extranet is a separate computer network and only a select amount of users can sign into the portal through a password.
Information gathering and sharing doesn’t stop with data. Industry associations and business partners use extranets as a secure way to share information with colleagues or third-party vendors. Extranets can also host training documents, industry updates, best practices, product and service information and collaborative projects. A study of extranet users showed they were sharing more and better quality information with partners than they had before using an extranet. They were also more likely to exchange information with extranet partners than with non-extranet colleagues.
Consider the functions that would enhance your business operations, leverage your existing data and foster communication and collaboration. Through a customized intranet or extranet, Trilix’s web developers can help you inform and improve operations and make business processes more efficient and effective. Our team will work with you to determine your exact needs and build an intranet or extranet to best suit your organization.