One of the biggest worries for any business is how to make sure costs do not spiral out of control. Firms which already have computer networks can help prevent this happening by installing an intranet into their system. Hong Kong Supernet, one of the oldest Internet service providers in Hong Kong, has diversified its consultancy business by setting up intranet services. The firm claims intranet - internal computer networks which work with the same technology as the Internet - can reduce internal corporate networking costs. A new US study shows that for a large network, web technologies can reduce costs by millions of dollars over four years. Lee Kheng-joo, a Hong Kong Supernet spokesman, said: 'The economic justification for intranets is a must. Most companies need to put out a lot of internal documents and all this printing, duplicating and distributing costs a lot. You can easily pay for half a dozen web servers and pay back your investment within six to 12 months.' Intranets are also said to be inexpensive because the system consists of a server hardware platform/operating system and WWW server software. They are described as 'easy to use' for workers. 'Employees use hyper-text links to search for and access texts, graphics, audio or videos, all organised into home pages. This means many companies can do away with costly corporate documents produced on paper, like human resources guides, news letters and annual reports,' Mr Lee said. Intranets can also be used to provide marketing and sales support. Teams can use them to exchange information and share data when working on collaborative projects. Web servers are based on open technology and common standards, allowing intranets to connect all different types of computers on a network. Hong Kong Supernet claims intranets solve a long- time bugbear of IS managers - 'lack of inter-operability'. In a recent report, the Business Research Group said intranets would deliver information resources for a firm to each worker's desktop with minimal cost, time and effort. 'The harnessing of Internet technologies within a corporate environment is the most important development to emerge in the computer industry in the 1990s,' it said.