Where is an intranet used & what is it used for in business?

Where is an intranet used?

In the early days of intranet software, at around the turn of the 21st century, intranets were predominantly used in the same location as the server on which the platform was stored. The most efficient way to connect to them was to plug in a desktop or laptop computer to an Ethernet cable at a desk. Some companies did have a basic web page that employees could log on to via the Internet, but even then, they were limited to a cabled connection.

Fast-forward to today and the situation has completely changed. Intranet users are no longer tied down by wires or proximity to where the information is stored.

From a hot desk or a home desk

A number of factors have led to intranets being more accessible to users from wherever they happen to be. As intranets become increasingly more based on remote servers, cloud intranets can now be easily accessed by permitted users anywhere with an internet connection. Super-fast speeds combined with being able to cope with larger bandwidths means that these connections can handle the continuing rise in sophistication of intranets. With fibre broadband now available to many residential areas, employees can easily work from anywhere in the world.

On any connected device

A killer combination of continually increasing computing power and wireless connectivity becoming faster and more widely available makes smartphones and tablets a popular option for employees looking to log on to work systems. 

The phenomenon of staff wanting to bring their own devices to work, known as BYOD (bring your own device), continues to grow with around two-thirds of workers using personal smartphones, tablets and laptops in the workplace. This means that businesses need responsive intranets that can be viewed on any device, while also ensuring the highest levels of security to prevent weaknesses in the company firewall.

On the move

Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and soon, 5G, means that staff can log on to an intranet from their connected device while travelling between meetings. To make working on the intranet easier for those who could be distracted by other passengers, announcements or transport attendants, site navigation must be intuitive and tailored to the needs of the individual.

A quality intranet will be accessed by staff from any number of different locations with connectivity, which will help them be more connected with the business, colleagues and clients leading to increased productivity. Intranets are no longer restrained to internal use, but are now ‘wherever an employee happens to be’ use.

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What an intranet is used for in business?

There are a number of reasons why a business might want to implement an intranet system – improve communications, teamwork, organization, workflows, efficiencies.

Very often wanting to take advantage of an intranet could be down to one particular reason, such as boosting collaboration between colleagues and teams, but businesses soon realize that it can be used for much, much more.

Intranets are used to improve communication

Ask anyone, do a Google search, look in a trade magazine and the top reason for getting an intranet will always be to enhance internal communications. Integrating video, voice, instant messaging, email and social, an intranet will certainly get colleagues communicating better with each other. Also, easy to use content management systems and publishing applications mean that updates and news can be more easily and quickly shared.

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Intranets are used to better control documents 

With more people working on the same documents, there could be confusion as to what the latest version is, who wrote or edited it, or even where it is. Most intranets provide users with access to document storage and version control apps as standard. The most effective solutions integrate these seamlessly with other collaborative tools to help employees know exactly at what stage of drafting the document is at, who has been working on it or needs to, as well as where the document is in terms of approval. This enables the effective and efficient production of a final version that is accurate and of a high standard.

Intranets are used for training and information sharing

Businesses perform better when everyone knows how to best do the tasks assigned to them. Improved communications and document control, mean that best practice and training can be more effectively shared with those that need to know it, through written documents or even audio or video files.

Important updates and news can be more easily and rapidly disseminated to colleagues via a quality intranet’s simple-to-use content management system and publishing tools.

Intranets are used to cement brand identity

A quality intranet will offer a bespoke look and feel that is unique to the business purchasing it. Ideally when a user logs on the intranet home page will have a design that reinforces the brand identity and is written to the organization’s style guidelines. This will act as a continual reminder to employees about the ethos, language and quality they should be working with or towards.

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