What is an intranet?
Before we go into detail as to why intranets are a useful business resource, it’s best to understand what they are. Essentially, an intranet is a “computer network that uses internet technology to share information within an organisation”. What this really means, is an intranet can be a type of ‘internal website’ so employees have one link, which is their ‘go-to’ for all information, from colleague details to shared calendars, to internal discussions or company announcements – there are many different possible functions to an intranet.
We use Microsoft SharePoint to build our intranets. It’s an enterprise platform from Microsoft that can mirror the look and feel of the Microsoft Office suite, as well as integrate seamlessly with it, increasing productivity as well as user adoption thanks to its familiarity. However, this doesn’t have to mean a typically old-fashioned and out-dated ‘company intranet’. Your intranet can be exciting, useful, inspiring and a key component that ties everyone together.
"In order for a company to succeed, all players must understand its goals. Neither long-term nor short-term goals should be confined to upper management meetings. It's Business 101. Everyone needs to be working toward common goals."
Your intranet can be a place for all staff to go to find out anything they need while simultaneously building a sense of community and supporting your business culture. By centralising all information and being a place for collaboration your intranet can be the first place employee’s go to get their questions answered – thereby reducing their time searching, and other colleagues time helping answer these requests. Unlike a website, which should bring in customers and encourage spend, an intranet is used to increase staff productivity to reduce costs in terms of time and resources, which it is extremely effective at doing when done right.
While your intranet can have a positive impact on efficiency, productivity and return on investment, it can also help in others areas such as staff motivation, staff retention and staff progression. The key is just that: it’s all about your staff. By improving the ease at which staff can source information and facilitating the inclusion and engagement in company news, it makes employee’s feel more valued, included and efficient, which quite simply can lead to more passionate staff and better customer service.
The great variety of SharePoint’s functionality means each business can harness a wealth of benefits but each will be unique to every organisation. This means that we cannot outline exactly how an intranet will help your business, but instead we have outlined some of the most common benefits from an intranet, in the form of an infographic (please click to view full size):