Just as there are many internal uses for web technology within large organizations, there is an urgent need for organizations to find better ways to communicate with external customers and suppliers. Communication via extranet's can take some of the burden out of sales, marketing, customer service, and supplier relations by allowing these people to silently poll your web site and obtain the information they need. An extranet can be thought of as an intranet that is partially accessible to authorized outsiders. An extranet provides various levels of accessibility to outsiders. You can access an extranet only if you have a valid username and password, and your identity determines which parts of the extranet you can view. Extranets are becoming a very popular means for business partners to exchange information.

An extranet can be an excellent place to provide information that will help business partners, clients, and employees to stay in touch with company operations. An extranet offers clients and employees the advantage of being able to access business documents when they are away from the office. The extranet acts as an "information hub" that gives authorized users access to important business information. The following list shows the types of information you may want to include in your extranet.

  • Product release notes and upgrade notices.
  • Market surveys and focus group studies.
  • Competive cross-referencing.
  • Wholesale pricing.
  • Downloadable and printable product literature, including white papers, case studies, testimonials, specifications, customer registration forms, etc.
  • Downloadable canned presentations (e.g., PowerPoint files with downloadable PowerPoint Viewer.
  • Downloadable on-demand electronic files or other materials requested on a case-by-case basis (password protected and encrypted, if necessary).
  • Product troubleshooting and maintenance procedures.
  • Interactive problem-report forms or request for service.

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