What is an Intranet? All the Features & Benefits of an Intranet 2.0
If you want to find out more about how an intranet works and what the benefits of an intranet are, this is the article to read. From sharing company information to improving employee engagement and increasing revenue, an intranet is an essential business tool. Find out how your organization could benefit from a digital workplace supported by a company intranet.
What is an intranet? The full definition
A Quick History of Intranets
Definition of intranet,
“A network operating like the World Wide Web but having access restricted to a limited group of authorized users (such as employees of a company).“
The intranet has been around since the 1990s, but previously only performed basic functions such as document storage. Today’s interactive platforms that enable the fast and efficient exchange of internal information are quite different from those of the past.
An intranet software is a business’s own internal version of the Internet. It’s a piece of software that needs a web server to function. It provides a collaboration platform that promotes internal communications. The meaning of an intranet is a digital place that unites participants and information sharing.
For business, an intranet can be used to:
Publish company communications: The intranet can be a place for staff to read company news, announcements and blogs.
Store and share files: Files can be stored in one location instead of on different computers.
Track time: Employees can log work time and project managers can record project time.
Book appointments: It’s easy to coordinate a meeting on an intranet calendar. It can immediately tell you who’s free and when.
Set reminders: This is a useful tool to place project milestones.
Plan projects and workloads: The intranet can be used to schedule timelines, coordinate departments and allocate work. It can target relevant sections, such as sales and marketing, human resources, finance, development…
Hold meetings: Using the intranet to hold a virtual meeting saves time and expenses.
Have informal chats: An internal message system that allows virtual chats.
Intranet 2.0: The Cloud-Based Intranet
What is intranet 2.0 or Social Intranet? It’s the result of an evolving intranet.
This is the new version of the original intranet. In the past, company intranets usually only consisted of a welcome page and perhaps some company information and announcements.
This basic tool has evolved into the new intranet 2.0 that:
Promotes the social exchange of information
Supplies access to documents
Maintains employee engagement
Today’s Intranet 2.0 encourages collaboration, rather than just communication. It uses advances in technology to create a platform that allows a company to become a digital workplace.
Does intranet 2.0 need the internet to function? Yes it does, as it’s a branch that links to the internet and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. Data and files are stored in the Cloud, which is the storage and delivery of information via the Internet.
The digital workplace is evolving fast, and remote working supports it. But how do you access an intranet from outside? Employees who use a company’s intranet can get into it from their mobile, tablet or laptop, depending on their access rights. Employees who need to access the intranet from outside or away from an internet connection will need 4G to connect to the company intranet.
Global working is also an important part of an intranet. International business means employees are based all over the world. In the past, we communicated with our colleagues abroad through email or telephone. The intranet changes this.
So an efficient intranet is essential. This virtual replacement of the physical workplace depends on a fully-functioning intranet for it to be successful.
CMS Employee Intranet: the Difference Between WordPress and Drupal
What is a CMS employee intranet? CMS stands for content management system. This is the system within the intranet for the creation and management of content. This content is the information employees and users use in their day-to-day work and activities. It could be:
Company procedures and policies
Minutes of meetings
Sales and marketing presentations
The CMS has to be well-managed and organized. It should be up-to-date and hold information that is easy to find. Using the CMS should be a rewarding and useful experience for employees. It should encompass management tools for everyone.
A content management system must also be secure (as should the whole intranet). Users should only have access to relevant information. Security should be of the highest level, both to prevent hackers from accessing the content and prevent staff from seeing confidential information.
What are WordPress and Drupal? These are two popular content management systems. WordPress is more well-known than Drupal, but this doesn’t mean it’s better. Both CMSs have their pros and cons and will suit different kinds of businesses. Web developers may have experience in one or both, and which one a company decides to go with will depend on its long-term goals.
Unfortunately, both tools are not CMS for employees intranet. They are very different from an intranet which regroups directly all the features you can need.
What’s the difference between an Intranet, Extranet, and the Internet?
An intranet, extranet and the Internet all facilitate communication, but in different ways. Each can be used for various reasons, depending on the user’s needs.
Here’s a simple explanation of the differences between these three networks:
An intranet is a private network, similar to the Internet, but only accessible to authorized people. It is used by a business to publish and store information that is useful to employees. This information can be used by staff to carry out their jobs. A modern intranet also allows employees to work on its platform and create, use, and share documents.
It can be designed to suit a company’s needs. Modern intranet solutions integrate with external resources such as Google, Office 365, Dropbox, social media, Mailchimp…
An intranet needs a firewall to protect it from unauthorized access. A firewall is a barrier that prevents unwanted traffic from entering the intranet.
An extranet is a branch of the intranet that gives access to a third party not authorized to use the company intranet. This could be a partner, supplier, vendor, or client. An example of extranet use is a retail supplier that can access stock information to facilitate deliveries. This saves the company having to place orders as it is an automated system. Another example is access to a company’s press releases for the media.
As with an intranet, an extranet also needs an additional firewall for security purposes.
The Internet is a global network of computers that connect and is accessible to everyone. The World Wide Web (sometimes confused with the Internet) is the service that the Internet provides – websites, email, online gaming, video streaming, file sharing, etc. To access the Internet you need a device that will connect to it, such as a computer or mobile phone with a Wi-Fi or 4G connection. No one regulates the Internet and it is not owned by any company. Security is the responsibility of the individual company or person that implements it.
Discover LumApps, the Social Intranet :
Why is an intranet important for your company?
One of the main benefits of an intranet is that it can increase productivity within a business, and therefore profit. Of course, you can’t install an intranet and expect the figures to improve overnight. But, long-term, an intranet is a beneficial tool for many businesses.
What is the purpose and benefits of the intranet? Here’s why it is important for your company:
1. Time efficiency
An intranet can save time in many ways. It reduces the need to travel, have long meetings, search for documents and it can help plan timelines and workloads.
Employees can have access to the intranet 24/7, which allows remote and flexible working. Many employees no longer work in a typical 9-5 environment, so having access to the intranet when it suits them is invaluable.
2. Cost savings
An intranet has fairly low operating costs. It needs managing by an IT specialist (which can be done externally for small businesses). Staff costs are lower as the intranet enables remote working. Cost savings can be made on:
Parking : some companies pay for staff parking
Cafeterias : no refreshments needed
Office space : a reduction in rentals, insurance, and upkeep
3. Employee advocacy
Employee advocacy is another intranet benefit. Engaged and motivated employees who enjoy their work and use the intranet efficiently are key to the success of a business.
For an employee to be an advocate they need to feel content with their role and proud to work for the company. This means they will share good news about the company internally and externally.
4. Employee Engagement
An intranet promotes employee engagement. Access to company information gives employees a sense of belonging. This encourages motivation and effectiveness.
The modern intranet links employees at all levels, from the cafeteria staff to the CEO – everyone can benefit from this collaboration tool. Feeling valued inspires company loyalty. A company intranet can support the desire to feel we matter within the bigger picture.
5. The Social Intranet
The social intranet plays a part in participation and communication. An employee intranet is more than just a tool. It’s where people can communicate and socialize.
A tailor-made social network offers an internal communication solution for staff. It can encourage them to use the intranet. It can also be branded to reflect the company image and values.
6. Valuing Opinion
It can improve company communications. It builds participation by allowing people to talk to each other, give opinions or share ideas.
For example, you need testers for a new product your company is launching. By posting on the staff intranet you can set up a group of people to take part in an hour. This is much quicker than finding external candidates, checking them out, and inviting them to participate.
7. International Business
Another purpose is to allow businesses to operate over several time zones. For example, your company is in New York, your product is global and your teams are all over the world. The intranet allows staff in Europe to access information while you’re sleeping. You wake up to that report from Paris you were waiting for and correct and send it back the same day.
What are the main Features of an intranet?
The best intranets work seamlessly and encourage employees to use them daily. It can be used as a tool to work more efficiently. So what are an intranet’s main features?
Increasing productivity means reducing costs and improving profit – the ultimate goal of a business. Ways to do this through the employee intranet include:
Reducing the time taken to search for documents and information
Streamlining administrative procedures
Savings on meetings (travel, costs, time management)
Effective communication (emails, messaging)
Promoting efficient teamwork
Employee engagement is key in business. If employees are engaged in their own work and the overall objectives of the company they show commitment. This translates into productivity and innovation. It helps drive the business forward.
Ways to achieve employee engagement through an intranet are:
Make employees feel valued (recognition, rewards programs, training)
Accommodate freedom of expression and ideas
Communicate company goals in a simple and enticing way
Have a social area (chats, quizzes, videos, music, events)
Remote working is part of today’s digital workplace. It allows staff to work at any time and anywhere. Being able to connect wherever you are gives flexibility in ways of working. A useful intranet tool is a mobile app which:
Provides instant information
Gives immediate connectivity with colleagues
This is one of the key aspects of a company intranet as it’s a form of free PR. Motivated employees who speak highly of the company they work for can help grow the business. Positive word of mouth advertising is invaluable for a company’s reputation. It can:
Build trust between staff and management
Attract high-caliber talent
File and data storage should be versatile and functional. Intranet content can be stored in the Cloud, which is efficient and time-saving. Benefits of Cloud document storage for an intranet are:
Ease of access to files saves time
Supply of a knowledge database for research or facts and figures
All documents are kept in one location
Integration with External Apps
Different departments use different apps to complete tasks. For example HR may use LinkedIn, Planning may use Trello, Sales may use Skype, and the rest of the business probably uses G Suite (all the Google apps) and Office 365. An intranet can integrate with other apps that a business uses as its management tools. The benefits of app integration are:
No need to learn how to use new systems
Reduces time changing between platforms
A company intranet can be a source of knowledge. From how to use the intranet to market research data, sales figures or the history of the company, the intranet is a valuable knowledge platform. It can be used by staff and access to some sections can be given to external visitors, such as the press. An intranet knowledge base:
Offers useful information that people want to read
Can undergo ongoing development and updates
Reduces overheads as answers to questions can be instant
CMS (Content Management System)
The Content Management System supports the knowledge base. It is the collection of content on offer to staff and external visitors. It should be well organized, up-to-date and offer useful content for the benefit of the business. An intranet’s CMS should be easy to navigate and include:
The option for the reader to react with ‘likes’, ‘shares’ and similar
Images and videos of interest
Social media is an essential part of the way we live. A customized social media area can be integrated into an intranet platform. It plays an important role in employee motivation. An area where employees can connect and ‘switch off’ from the office will encourage them to use the intranet. Social media on the intranet can:
Give a feeling of working in a community
Help employees interact with each other
Build working relationships
A company intranet can be tailor-made to suit the needs of a company. It can be as large or as small as a business needs to it to be. Another advantage is it can be developed over time, allowing for expansion of the business and increases in budgets. A customized intranet will:
Can be branded to enhance the company image (logo, strapline, colors)
Evolve as the business grows
Give authorized access to external partners, clients and suppliers to allow them to work with the organization more efficiently
One of the management tools of an intranet, particularly for larger companies, is listing staff profiles. These can include as much information as an employee permits and can be indispensable for finding staff skills. For example, a department may receive a letter in another language and needs to quickly find someone to translate it. It will be much more cost effective for them to search internally than look for an outside translation agency. Staff profiles can include:
5 essential Steps to building your Employee Intranet
An intranet runs on the same principles as the Internet and is built using similar programming. An intranet system that works well encourages employees to use it. If it’s hard to navigate and find information or is offline frequently this can have a negative impact.
So how does an organization create an intranet?
1. Why does Your Organization Need an Intranet?
Define why there is a need for an intranet. Will your organization benefit from it? What features of an intranet do you need?
If you have a group of people working together to achieve the same goal then you have the opportunity to create an intranet. Each of these people could benefit from interacting with their colleagues and combining their knowledge.
2. Who will Develop the Intranet?
A project team is essential for developing a company intranet. They will coordinate the building of this internal tool and ensure it meets the company’s requirements. They will consider things such as how to set up the intranet site, its name and branding, the management tools required, and how it will be launched.
3. What Content does an Intranet Need?
An important part of starting an intranet site is identifying the content. To be successful an intranet needs a good content management system. The system should be logical, easy to use and information should be easy to find. Intranet content should also be regularly reviewed to ensure documents are up to date.
4. Who will Use the Intranet?
Who will have access to the company intranet? For example, the HR department will probably have access to the whole site, whereas admin staff may only need permission to view certain sections of the intranet. This also applies to external access as suppliers and partners may benefit from being able to view relevant information to them. An intranet guide should be available, so people know how to use it.
5. Who will maintain and develop this collaboration platform?
Once the intranet is set up it needs to run efficiently. Things to consider are:
Who will fix any technical problems that arise? Will they be available 24/7?
Should there be a development team to constantly improve the company intranet?
Who will monitor and measure the success of the intranet?
Brand Content Writer
April 30, 2020
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