An intranet is a private network that uses Internet technologies and networking protocols to connect computers inside an organization. It can include a wide variety of applications, such as collaborative tools and communications platforms, as well as line-of-business applications that support operations or customer support. The intranet can also serve as a gateway to the Internet and other networks. It must be secured with firewall software that tracks incoming and outgoing data packets to confirm they do not contain unauthorized or suspicious data.
A traditional intranet requires employees to have a special network password and be connected to the company LAN to access it. A modern intranet can be accessed through a VPN or other secure connection and may allow remote employees to sign into the intranet as if they were on the company LAN. A firewall is essential to a secure intranet because it stands between the company’s private intranet and the outside Internet to ensure unauthorized people cannot gain access.
The best intranet platforms have a social element to encourage user participation. These platforms, which are sometimes called employee portals, can include a variety of tools to facilitate team collaboration and communication. Some have gamification elements to motivate users and promote engagement. Other features can help managers and supervisors track and encourage employee performance. These platforms can also serve as the hub for a company’s internal communications, including formal announcements and ongoing conversations.
Many companies use instant messaging channels, such as Slack and Teams, to communicate in real time and to collaborate on projects. These platforms can be more informal and less structured than an intranet, however, and it’s easy for messages to get lost in the shuffle. Additionally, these types of applications are often not optimized for remote work.
A modern intranet can incorporate other tools, such as a video conference platform, to enable remote collaboration and collaboration with customers or vendors. It can centralize line-of-business applications and provide a smart, customizable homepage. It can also be designed to optimize for mobile devices.