As a web developer, I’ve worked for many organizations, both small and large, over the past 15 years. Technology in the workplace has changed and evolved a lot during that time. In fact, I remember when the term ‘intranet’ was in its infancy. Back then, the term “intranet” was often confused with “internet” and required some explanation.

Simply put, an intranet is a protected network portal within an organization, whereas the internet is comprised of countless networks around the globe. But I won’t go into too much detail about the history of the intranet – instead if you would like to learn more, check out our new History of the Intranet eBook.

Let us hearken back to those dark days before the advent of the modern intranet, when employees shared information via copious paper memos or email, or documents on shared network drives. It was an inefficient arrangement and employees generally struggled to find information quickly. Dealing with these inefficiencies often lead one or more employees to express their frustration and proclaim, “There has got to be a better way. We need an intranet to solve our problems.”

As with all things, there is no “magic bullet” that will fix a company’s productivity problems. Management may even ask, “Do we really need an intranet?” To answer that question, here are some of the benefits an intranet solution can provide:

Why You Need An Intranet Solution

An intranet is an indispensable tool in improving communication and providing centralized, simplified access to information. As your organization grows, the benefits of having a central, available source for finding information increases. An intranet mitigates the communication problems that arise in larger organizations.

In addition, having an intranet saves valuable time. Employees save time accessing the information they need, when they need it. Most intranet solutions offer a search mechanism whereby information stored in various media become searchable from a single form. This concept is called federated search and is similar to Intranet Connections new Super Search.

Single Sign-On with AD Sync

Another great benefit to having an intranet solution is reduced sign on. What I mean by this is, by integrating authentication mechanisms, such as Active Directory Synchronization, employees gain access to multiple, inter-related software systems without having to log in multiple times, ultimately saving users more time. Also, having to continuously log in is just annoying.

Collaboration Tools

One of the main benefits of having an intranet solution is increased collaboration. An intranet connects employees and provides collaboration tools in the form of wikis, blogs, forums and chat rooms. This is especially helpful for large organizations with multiple locations across different regions, countries or even continents. Intranet Connections comes with many collaboration features already built-in such as:

      • Live Chat
      • Discussion Forums
      • Employee Profiles
      • Message Boards
      • And many others

Central Document Management

Another major benefit to having an intranet solution is keeping everything online using the Document Management feature. By using a digital document storage system, organizations reduce paper waste, printing costs and the need for document storage, such as file cabinets and document warehouses. This is an instant return on investment for our clients as they manage to eliminate almost all of their paper-based processes by using the Document Management feature. And for those of you concerned about the environment, an added benefit is the reduced reliance on photocopiers which will reduce your company’s ecological footprint.

Choosing The Right Intranet Solution

I could go on and on about the benefits of having an intranet, but you only reap maximum benefits from an intranet solution that will fit your organizations specific needs. I’ve put together a short list of the key considerations for choosing an intranet solution:

  • Size Of The Organization: Does your company need an enterprise intranet solution or will some small business communication tools suffice?
  • Budget And Pricing Model: Will the software be a one-time cost with annual maintenance costs, or will it use a price per user per month model?
  • On-Premise Or Cloud-Based: Does your organization have in-house resources to deploy the intranet, or will it require a hosted or cloud-based service that it does not control or maintain?
  • Support Services & Product Upgrades: Does the Intranet Software Provider deliver Support, Maintenance & Product Upgrades? If not, can your organization budget for a third-party resource/developer?
  • Level of Customization: Is the intranet software product customizable? Does your organization require customizable components?

Nowadays, it’s understood that in order for a business to remain competitive in today’s world, companies require a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, etc. These are the essential tools companies use to communicate with the world at large. Internally, an intranet provides similar tools to help keep employees informed and connected, with improved document management and process workflows. Given all of the reasons above, the question, “Do we really need an intranet?” becomes superfluous. Intranets are an essential component for organizations seeking to improve communications and gaining efficiency with document management and collaboration.

How has your intranet solution benefited your organization? I would love to keep the discussion going and look forward to your comments below.