What is an Intranet?
In the most general sense an Intranet uses software and TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) standards on a private network, such as an organisation’s LAN (local area network) or WAN (wide area network). An Intranet of a company can also be referred to as a corporate web.

An Intranet is an internal business tool of a company. The information on an Intranet is viewed via employees’ computers with a web browser such as Internet Explorer or Netscape. Only the employees of a company can view the information published on the company Intranet. Only the company employees can use the applications available on the Intranet. An Intranet can physically span the globe but those who have authority to do so such as company employees can only access it.

What is an Intranet used for?
Regardless of the company or organization, the primary purpose of an Intranet is to provide information. The information on Intranets has been known to include technical manuals, company procedures, product and marketing data, internal job opportunities, employee information, organisation chart and strategy, company event calendars, sales targets, project status and even items “For Sale”.

The information on an Intranet can be presented in a variety of ways. These include text on web pages, PowerPoint presentations, downloadable documents, and becoming more popular, audio/video presentations (webcasting).

Another purpose of an Intranet is to make employees tasks easier. For instance, employees via an application on the Intranet can book travel or accommodation. Employees can also claim expenses by using applications on the company Intranet.

What are the Benefits of an Intranet?
The initial investment in establishing a company Intranet is substantial. However, the benefits such as reduction of business costs, increase in productivity and increase in employees’ knowledge outweigh the initial costs of an Intranet.

Reduction of Costs
The starting justification for many Intranets is the decreased cost of producing, accessing and distributing information within an organisation. Instead of printing and distributing documents such company employee directory, company policies, technical and training manuals, information can be published on an Intranet at a fraction of cost. The added advantage of this is that any changes in policy can be quickly updated and published online. Compare this to how much it would cost to make the appropriate changes to a document and then have to print (either internally or commercially) and then mail out to company employees.

Increase Productivity
The ability to quickly change and publish information on an Intranet means that employees can quickly access up to date information daily. By publishing online business information on the Intranet, employees become more productive as they get what they want and get where they want more quickly with better results. For example, by making training materials accessible through an Intranet to the desktop employees can schedule training during lull times, rather than be interrupted during key projects.

Furthermore, employees would not have to spend a great deal of company time to chase information from other employees if the information is published on the Intranet. Think of how many times employees would have to spend in the time consuming task of trying to find information the “old” way.

Whether it is information about superannuation or how to order a new PC or even product information, it would be more productive for all employees if the information were published on the Intranet. Why? Because those seeking the answers will be able to find the information they require far more quickly than trying finding the person who can answer their questions.

In addition, the employee who has to answer these questions does not have to waste their time/company time by responding on the phone, fax or even have to send out any printed material to their colleagues at the company expense. Compare this to just referring a colleague to the appropriate web page on the Intranet.

Increase in Knowledge
From the outset it has been stated that the primary reason for an Intranet is to provide information to employees. Buy why is this important? Simply, because knowledge is power. The more knowledge employees have the better they will be able to perform their duties. Publishing training manuals or multimedia presentations on an Intranet gives employees the opportunity to learn new skills. These new skills can then be applied to their tasks and thereby improve performance.

By publishing information on an Intranet, employees, regardless of geographical location, are sharing information with their colleagues. For instance, an engineer in Sweden publishes information about a product his department has developed on the company Intranet. His colleagues in Australia such as business development managers can then study the information and then begin to develop sales strategies before taking the product to market.

Successful Intranets allow employees from a variety of departments to contribute the different skills and information necessary to carry out a particular business process. For example, an Intranet linking design centers in Asia, Europe and the US helped engineers craft the 1996 Ford Taurus.

Information on an Intranet gives employees an opportunity to know about what is going on in their company. Should an employee want to know about another department within the local company or more information about how a company project is progressing in another part of the world then an Intranet is the most cost effective and productive business tool to use.

In today’s business world, making a profit, reducing costs and increasing productivity are fundamental. In many ways, the benefits of using an Intranet contribute to these business ideals. Any company or organisation, regardless of size can use an Intranet to achieve their business goals.

By STEVE YANKO

Copyright © STEVE YANKO 2004

About the Author


Steve Yanko is a Music Teacher, Musician, Song Writer & Consultant who loves working in the world of music.