Friday, November 28, 2008

Using extranets and intranets to enhance your business - Adrian Scott reveals how at the Newbury Business Group

Morgan PR is already well versed in the skills of Adrian Scott as we are working together on the new design for the Newbury Business Group website; however today provided the opportunity for other members of West Berkshire’s foremost networking organisation to discover more about what this web guru does.

Adrian explained that essentially Companion Computers, which has been running since 1987, is a bespoke software developer, offering tailored practical software for businesses. He proudly emphasised the power of their solutions with applications that are still running today that were developed in the late 80s!

He distinguished Companion Computer’s services to fellow member Rob Winnett’s company Kaizen Systems, which is also a bespoke software developer, explaining: “We develop software solutions solely for the internet.”

“We develop for the internet because demands for solutions are growing as users demand access to their systems anywhere and at anytime; they want real-time information and the ability to share information between users and best of all you do not need to install software – you just need and internet connection and you don’t even need to use your own PC.

“This is the future. Have you heard about software as a service? It will not be long until we’re all be using our Microsoft Office applications through a web browser and we will be subscribing to software only paying for it when we use it.

“This is secure too with our information and services hosted on a firewalled Web Server, which has to be better than a laptop, which can be lost or stolen, or sustain hard disk damage.

“Now, you’ve hear me talk each week about intranets and extranets – but what are they? Well, when we limit the access to the internally within a company it’s called an intranet and when we then open this up to our customers and suppliers we call it an extranet.

“There are plenty of conditions when an intranet would make sense, for example: when access is needed to company information by remote workers or where it was essential for everyone to access the same version of changing data. It could be to access customer data and can remove the need for email attachments.

“What about extranets?” Adrian sought to reassure the group: “You may have come across some extranets and may not have realised it. They’re often called members areas, client areas or my accounts. Online banking is a prime example of one that we have all used.

“Some of you will argue: ‘Surely that’s a website though?’ Well, it depends on your point of view. Our view is that websites are there to promote the business, market the company and increase sales. At least that’s what it should be doing! Extranets are there to improve your customer service and make day to day operations more efficient.”

Clearly anticipating the thoughts of some of the members he explained that this was not just something for big business, indeed this technology is available now for any type of company large all small.

“We’ve worked on projects starting at £850, although that’s not the norm by any means. It is really all about the complexity of the requirement.

So some extranet examples that we recently completed include an event registration extranet that needed to be interactive and meet clients needs online to improve customer service and reduce enquiries.

“We set up a training facility booking intranet that has reduced calls, meant it is no longer paper based and offers a much more efficient digital record of bookings

“Ultimately, whether intranet or extranet, our services are about improving the efficiency of your company and improving the client experience, both more important than ever in the current climate.”

Clearly a man who knows his stuff! If you have any web questions, not least about intranets and extranets why not contact Adrian or better still, join us at Newbury Business Group one Friday.

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