An Intranet is an offshoot of the famous internet. An intranet deals with communication within a specific organization or network while the internet is a sphere that encompasses everybody it can reach.

An intranet is a private internal network set up by an organization to be accessed by its members. According to a Forrester Research study, 65% of employees of companies use an intranet monthly while 43% access an intranet on a daily basis.

Introduction to Intranets

So how do we differentiate the internet from intranets in the simplest way possible? Here’s an example: the website you are currently browsing now, xenlife.com.au, is a website that is hosted by a server connected to the internet. Because of the web server, xenlife.com.au can be accessed and visited by everybody around the world who has internet access.

On the other hand, an intranet works within a specific sphere where only specific people are let in. An example of this: we, the people behind the scenes at xenlife use another program to let us communicate within our organization. This may include posting of events, sending memos, emails, accessing company data and joining social forums intended only for employees connected to the specialized LAN or password protected accessibility.

When employees request access to an intranet outside the LAN or from remote locations, accommodations can be made through extensions called the extranet.

How it Works

Good intranets can deliver 3 basic user needs:

  1. Delivers information.
  2. Helps ease work load.
  3. Helps employees find information they need.

Thanks to these uses, organizations are trying to get on board with other who use intranets. But how does it work?

An intranet uses the same internet protocols and network connectivity. It’s essentially an internal website that shares information within the organization. An intranet runs in client and server internet protocol. It also uses HTTP, FTP and email.

Intranets can offer various organizations its useful features. These features are usually employed by organizations to get jobs done in a timely manner and through interaction with other employees. Usually, an intranet is tweaked to make it easily accessible. It is secured with tiered levels of accessibility.

Here’s some common features you can expect to find in intranets across various organizations:

Employee directory

This includes employees relevant public information that can be used for communication within the organization. It includes email address, phone number and job description. Most employees use this feature to search for another employee with the right capabilities to help with a current job. Sometimes this feature can also offer another feature which lists if the current employee is out of the office, on the field or out on vacation.

Content Repository

Content in old organizations is usually found in company libraries, in forms of publications on paper. Today, these can be found online through an intranet feature. Employees looking for company guidelines, legal policies, old publications, marketing tools and other information can access these through the search engine within the content repository of intranets.

Employees also have the ability to upload their own content relevant to the organization and download content from their fellow employees. Newsletters are the most commonly read content in the site.

Forms

In the past, employees may need to get their forms in the HR office. With an intranet, there can be an option to fill it out online or to print it out after filling it up. This helps employees get the job done in a click in case they need forms for their employee benefits, expense claims, leave requests, and other forms.

Activity feeds

Real time activity feeds increase interaction among employees. These real time activity feeds may include the feeds on forums, in the built-in social media and other live happenings which the employees can access too.

Forum and Commenting

Forums help to generate ideas. Only thing is, it may require a moderator. Forums and interaction can foster communication and can entice employees to share their ideas. These ideas could be solutions for current queries of the organization.

Calendar

Calendars can serve as event and schedule organizers for most organizations. It can keep employees updated with important dates. It can also sort memos by date.

Significance in the Business

Businesses and their employees use intranets to:

  1. find staff
  2. check on policies and procedures
  3. find forms
  4. check on employee benefits
  5. find and read organization news

Annually, industries lost $370 billion to disengaged workers. An intranet is deemed to help in engagement. Engaged workers are more creative and are more collaborative in the business process.

According to studies, mid-sized companies and organizations can gain as much as $5 million per year in employee productivity by improving their intranet.

Benefits of An Intranet

  1. Scalability. Most intranets are built to conform to the needs of the company. It can be scaled down or scaled up when needed.
  2. Reduce cost. An intranet can reduce cost by minimizing paper work, fewer elevator trips and quicker and easier communication.
  3. Improved productivity. Since an intranet features various useful apps like collaboration tools, interactive tools, social platforms, content repositories, employees can gain help as well as improve their working process. This increases productivity and at the same time benefits company profit.
  4. Increased security. Since an intranet revolves in an internal network, the chances of getting hacked are minimized. In the internet, the security of the organization’s website and dealings are usually lowered.
  5. Better customer service. An intranet organizes everything within the company, it eases information searching and it provides tools to make work quicker. This helps in servicing customers faster. Some intranets and companies may even open a part of an intranet to outside people due to business reasons but with the right security and access control of course.
  6. Access to internal and external information. An intranet gives the company employees access to limitless information from the outside and organization specific information from the inside.
  7. Promote common corporate culture. An intranet can promote oneness and a sense of belonging among company employees. It can also set standards and promote ideal company values.
  8. Increases collaboration and coordination. Easy communication opens ways to easy coordination of projects.

Intranets can also fail if it doesn’t follow the best guidelines. Experts of intranets outlined 8 main reasons or mistakes that might cause an intranet to fail:

  • Not testing with staff
  • Designing by opinions alone
  • Designing only half of an intranet
  • Taking in only a publishers perspective in building an intranet
  • Copying an intranet design from other intranet sites
  • Making and allowing technology to rule over the design instead of focusing on ease of accessibility
  • Designing an intranet hurriedly
  • Designing for short term purposes only

Intranets for beginner organizations can be a bit tricky. It may need a bit of study and a bit of expert execution before an ROI can be expected. Experts advise that for an intranet to be successful, it needs to start on sure footing – meaning you should choose the right software or developer and hire an expert to run it. Some bigger companies may send an employee or a team to study the intricacies of an intranet, its development, execution and maintenance.

Today we can see the rapid growth of organizations using intranets around the world. Since there is now a better understanding of how it works, the worries of it failing have been minimized.

Today, in the corporate world, intranets are deemed to be an investment. It broke through the usual communication dilemma of many institutions and it offers an alternative of information dissemination as well. In the changing and advancing world of technology, companies now have nowhere to go but to immerse themselves in the wonders and benefits of technology or else they will be left behind.

Featured image credit: PicJumbo

About Author

Roelen researches, creates, tailors content for outreach and content promotion campaigns as well as social presence management. She likes poetry, blues, The Walking Dead and crime books.