An intranet is an internal network used by a company to securely share information and computing resources among employees. Often, it becomes the central repository of important files and applications as well as a hub for communication, collaboration and teleconferences. An intranet also includes a database of user accounts, which helps manage security and access to data.
Modern intranet platforms resemble consumer applications and place a high priority on engagement. They include a smart homepage that lets users customize their experience and regular updates to boost engagement. They also feature tools for team collaboration, like chat and a videoconferencing platform. These features help workers communicate and collaborate, and they enable managers to track employee performance and provide recognition.
A modern intranet also supports mobile and remote work. It may include tools for virtual meetings and other line-of-business applications, and it should be easy to access without a corporate desktop or laptop PC. Some intranets also offer an extranet extension, which gives third parties such as customers and suppliers access to certain areas of the network.
Intranets are built using the same software, networking protocols and hardware as the Internet. To use an intranet, a computer must be connected to the company LAN and have a special network password. The intranet must be protected with a firewall, which monitors incoming and outgoing data packets to ensure the network is not breached.
Traditional intranets have some challenges, including a lack of user participation and an inability to support collaboration outside the workplace. The popularity of instant messaging channels, such as Slack and Teams, has made it harder for some workers to engage with the centralized communications channels of an intranet. In addition, social media sites can create an environment where discussions veer off into non-work-related subjects or cause offence. It is difficult to control these types of conversations and enforce policy. Lastly, many older intranets have not been optimized for mobile or remote work, which limits their usefulness.