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What is an Intranet?

Intranet – Intro

An intranet is a private network that is only used by people in the same company. Its main goal is to help employees work together, store information, and communicate with each other in a safe way. Modern intranets have social features that let employees make profiles and submit, like, comment on, and share posts. It’s like a private club with special services and perks that aren’t available to the general public.

An intranet uses a local area network (LAN), which is a computer network that links the computers of the people who are part of the intranet and where they work. A company could also set up an extranet, which is a private network that lets a small group of clients, suppliers, and customers securely share information over the Internet.

What is an Intranet?

Now that we know the answer to “What doest intranet mean?” Even though it uses the same protocol as the Internet, an intranet is not open to the public. It is a place where staff can talk to each other and share information safely. It’s like a private club with special services and perks that aren’t available to the general public.

An intranet uses a local area network (LAN), which is a computer network that links the computers of the people who are part of the intranet and where they work. It is used to share information, tools for working together, operational systems, and other computing services. A wide area network (WAN) is another way that devices on an intranet can stay connected to each other (WAN). The two are different sizes. WANs are larger than LANs.

What makes intranets different from the internet?

Intranets are private digital spaces that can only be accessed by certain users through single sign-on (SSO), IP address, or other company credentials). They have information about the company that is only available to those users. On the other hand, the internet is a public digital space that anyone in the world can use. It has almost all of the knowledge ever gained by humans.

Think about it this way: A company will have a website that is open to the public and is used for marketing or information, but it won’t share anything that is secret. It might also have a private intranet that is used to share information like strategy decks, organisational changes, anniversaries, and payroll dates. The two places are used for very different things.

What are extranets, and how are they different from intranets?

Extranets are semi-public networks that companies use to share information with contractors, vendors, partners, influencers, and maybe even customers, without giving those people access to the company’s internal network.

All employees may be able to use an intranet, but depending on their job or role, they may not be able to use an extranet. Third-party groups will be able to access certain files on an extranet, but they won’t be able to get to the files on the company intranet.

Internet/intranet/extranet access examples:

  • A PR manager can use the company’s intranet to find next month’s target list and the extranet to share guideline documents with people who have a lot of influence.
  • An administrative assistant can access every file on the company’s intranet but not the extranet.
  • A contractor working on a certain project can only access 10 files in the company’s extranet, but he or she can’t get into the intranet.
  • On a marketing website, an unidentified Internet user can only see information about the company that is available to the public.

How an Intranet Works

An intranet works like the Internet does. It allows connected devices to communicate with one another. Without that connection, you can’t send files you wish to create hard copies of to your printer, for example. The only difference is that anyone can access the Internet, but only authorized users or members of the organization that operates an intranet can access it.

Here’s a diagram showing how an intranet is generally structured:

Here’s a diagram showing how an intranet is generally structured:

What is Intranet used for?

Intranets are used in different ways by organisations based on their needs. These include the following:

  • Central repository. Intranets become the main place where important company data and information are kept.
  • Collaboration. These internal networks provide a way to share information that makes it easier for employees to work together.
  • Personalization. Intranets give each employee content that is tailored to their role in the company.
  • Communication. They make it easy to find employee directories, company news, and organisation charts, which improves communication within the company.
  • Easy to access information. Intranets make it easy to find out about company policies, benefits, and new information.
  • Social elements. With social media features, employees can sign up for an account, post content and status updates, and look through a newsfeed.
  • Project management. Users can manage projects better with the help of to-do lists, employee directories, status updates, and other tools.
  • Automation. Intranets make everyday tasks easier because they help automate tasks that are done over and over again.

Intranet Benefits

Intranets can help businesses in a number of ways, including:

Increase Productivity

By putting internal information on an intranet, anyone in the organization can find and use what they need for work more quickly and easily. Employees don’t have to go to a department to get information; they can just go to the intranet and search like they would on the Internet using a search engine like Google.

Save Time

Intranets let companies send information to all employees or just a few, depending on what the message is about. And the person who gets the message can choose when to open it.

Enhance Communication Security

Intranets can serve as hosts for internal communication tools, such as instant messengers and bulletin boards. Better yet, because access to these tools is limited to employees, the risk of leaked internal data is significantly lower.

Reduce Costs

Because intranets can host all kinds of files, including databases, documents, and even apps, organizations can save on printing and other information dissemination costs. Also, since the companies have fewer physical copies, they can also save on office storage space and related costs.

Increase Employee Engagement

We can’t argue that social media and other channels can keep employees interested, but not everyone is comfortable putting their thoughts and ideas out there for everyone to see. Keep in mind that not everything that goes on in an organization should be shared with the public. To get employees more involved, you can use an intranet instead of a more public platform. By sharing their ideas on forums, they can even help make important business decisions.

Some people might say that intranets are no longer important, but many people disagree. But as we move further into the digital age, the intranets of today need to be updated so they can be a part of the digital transformation of every company. Also, they need to work well on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), be interesting, and be easy to use.

What are some of the limitations of an intranet?

You might have noticed that each of these benefits ends with the word “can be.” That’s because you can only get those benefits when you use it in the best way. In reality, traditional intranets don’t get used as much as they could because of the following:

1. Intranets make it so employees have to go to another place to get information.

“Intranets are made to be easy to use” is an assumption that isn’t backed up by how people actually use them. The average U.S. worker changes between 13 tools 30 times a day. We have too many tabs, apps, channels, and pieces of information, and switching between these tools adds to the cognitive load of working in a distributed environment, which is already high. Intranets are portals that companies have to force employees to visit and use, taking them out of their normal tasks.

2. Intranets often need IT management to keep them up-to-date, grow, and run smoothly.

Traditional intranets require a lot of admin work. They have to be kept up by people who know a lot about IT, which means they are often several versions behind in UX and security. Even something as simple as updating the “front page” can take several steps, and making a new section for a newly formed team can take a long time if the intranet doesn’t have a wiki built in. An intranet CMS should make it easy for employees to communicate with each other and share information.

3. Intranets can’t be heard over the noise of too much information.

Employees are overwhelmed by the fast-paced sharing of knowledge that happens in chat and video apps like Slack and Teams. This is true whether they are in the office or working from home. Intranets are not a good replacement for these applications (or even a good addition to them! ), and they only add to the amount of information that is already too much.

4. Almost as soon as content is posted to an intranet, it becomes old.

“Feed the beast,” as the saying goes. Oh, really? What we mean is: Intranets are only as good as the content they contain, and to get employees to use the intranet, content teams often use “clickbait” techniques. The other problem with old content is that it is often not reliable, which makes employees start to ignore what they find and eventually stop looking.

5. Intranets don’t help companies work together.

Let’s face it: the old digital town square isn’t good enough anymore. They’re a place to talk just as much as that sad mall from the 1990s that closed in your town last year. Today, internal communication, collaboration, and coordination happen where employees already meet: in their “virtual HQ” on Slack or Microsoft Teams.

Example of intranets

Intranet platforms are available from large vendors and smaller startups. They include the following:

  • Axero
  • Blink
  • Facebook Workplace
  • Happeo
  • HCL Connections
  • HyperOffice Atlas
  • Jostle
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Microsoft Yammer
  • Passageways OnSemble
  • Samepage
  • Simpplr
  • Staffbase
  • Workvivo
  • Zoho Connect


When was the intranet introduced?

While the term “intranet” wasn’t used until 1994, the most popular intranet platform didn’t appear until 2001 (SharePoint).

Why do businesses have internal networks?

Organizational documents and information such as anniversaries, payroll dates, and strategy decks are commonly shared and communicated via intranets.

Can someone can hack an intranet?

Intranets can be hacked like any other credential-based system by using social engineering. Also, because old-school portal solutions aren’t always SaaS platforms, they might be running on older versions (remember how hard they are to manage?). Any out-of-date software is a security risk, so hacking is a real threat that could lead to private information and documents being made public (or stolen).

What do intranet applications do?

SharePoint is the gold standard of intranet platforms. Guru, Confluence, and other business wikis are examples of up-to-date intranet-like software. ‍

What are the key characteristics of an intranet?

Information and document management, search capabilities, shared work areas, application integration, and access control are just few of the primary functions of an intranet. ‍

What is the definition of an intranet site?

Intranets are internal websites where only authorised users can access information such as company policies and staff handbooks. It can function as an internal information repository, meeting place for teamwork, and line of communication for management.

Wrapping Up

Companies are reevaluating their intranets as part of their larger efforts to improve the employee experience. A growing number of businesses are abandoning their intranets in favour of employee experience applications. These programmes factor in the dispersed character of work, the requirement for more adaptable workflows, and the need for centralised business applications and resources.


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