What is Intranet? Meaning, Features, and Best Practices

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Written By Nidhi Sharma

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An intranet can be defined as a network that includes servers and endpoint devices with a content engine. Frontend systems and content engines allow users to share company information, chat with each other, work on files together, and have a social media-like experience. All this happens within a secure, private perimeter. This article gives an overview of the intranet. This article explains the basics of an intranet, its functions, and how to access it. It also discusses some of the most important components of an intranet.

What is an Intranet?

An intranet is a network that consists of servers and endpoint devices with a content engine. It allows users to share company information, chat with each other, work on files together, and have a social media-like experience. All this happens within a secure, private perimeter.

An intranet is a secure network that allows employees to communicate confidential corporate information and resources. It facilitates team members' access to important information, connections, forms, applications, and corporate records databases. It is often used to manage intranet security.

In the 1990s, intranet software was created alongside the internet. The primary difference is that intranets can be private and therefore safe, while the net can be accessed by anyone.

An intranet is used primarily for information exchange, data storage, and workflow management. An extranet is also known to users. This is an intranet that is accessible to clients and business partners.

How does an Intranet Work?

A web server is required to control requests for data stored on the server. This will ensure that intranet security and functionality are maintained. The web server locates and delivers the files to the correct user. A content management system is also required to manage intranet content creation, publication, maintenance, and update.

An intranet can contain many connected LANs, in addition to local area networks (LANs) and lease lines linking to wide area network resources. The intranet web server uses transmission control protocol, HTTP, and other internet protocols. A gateway computer is often used to connect intranets to the internet and other resources outside of the organization.

Employees must have a unique network password to access the intranet at work. They also need to be connected via the local area network (LAN) of the company. Remote workers can access the intranet using a virtual personal network (VPN), or any other secure connection. Remote workers can access the intranet even if they are not connected to the required network. They will receive the same data and services as registered users on the LAN.

Hosted software packages can also be used to create intranets. An intranet software package is available to companies instead of a private server. It performs the same functions that traditional intranets. Modern intranets can link to various corporate applications similar to social networking services.

The Key Components of An Intranet

A business will need the following components to develop an intranet system, rather than opting for a hosted solution:

Hosting Platform: To create your private intranet you will need a web server. It is both hardware and software that makes up a web server. A large server would be required to handle the high volume of users. The program also manages all data in the system.

Data Encryption: Administrators need to encrypt data while it is in transit and at rest. BitLocker, for example, provides two-level encryption on discs and a unique key for each file on SharePoint intranets. The SSL/TLS connection protects data while it is in transit.

Networked Endpoints: Once you have established the intranet, your staff must be able to connect their computers. To use the intranet (LAN), employees must have access to the company's network. They should also have access to web browsers. The intranet must be used for business purposes. This would mean that it needs a lot of network redundancy.

Content Management Systems (CMSs): The Content Management System (CMSs) is the core component of any intranet. This software is essential for the organization's files, customer data, and team member data. It must be chosen carefully. You can choose to have the CMS hosted on the web server, or use another program.

Firewalls: Firewalls protect your data from anyone outside of the company. Firewalls can also be used as internal blocks. To ensure sensitive data is only accessible by authorized users, one can choose which files are stored beneath the firewall.

User profiles: External profile sources like Active Directory and Azure Directory, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Twitter can be used to link user profiles with corporate directories. Omnichannel systems combine user profiles, history, replies, and assets from multiple communication channels to create a single view for each user with channel-specific context.

Why is an Intranet Necessary?

The primary purpose of intranet software is to connect workers across the company. This software is used by remote workers to work with them, provide easy access to their workspaces and documentation, and ensure that they are all connected to important business information. Virtual workplaces that allow workers to connect and collaborate across departments, share feedback, create new initiatives, store goals, and communicate with each other are called intranets.

Intranet: Key Features

These are the primary characteristics that you require in an enterprise-grade intranet:

1. Navigation by Intuition

An intranet's most important feature is its central storage of vital information. Employees must be able to find the information they need without getting lost in a maze of hyperlinks. Search engines for intranets must be reliable and capable of indexing all intranet content. Organizations should use metadata more often in searches.

2. Cloud Support

Modern intranets allow workers to move around easily. Many workers desire flexibility and a secure network that allows them to work from anywhere. A cloud-based intranet allows employees to work anywhere and gives them access to the tools and widgets they need.

3. Streamlined Document Administration

Today, the majority of company documentation is digital. It can be found on a server or hard drive. Or in an email inbox. A central repository may make them easily accessible and searchable by end users. You can rest assured that everyone has the latest version with a central repository. You may also stop cluttering up the inboxes. The intranet should also make it easier to organize your content into different libraries.

4. Built-in Communication Capabilities

Communication hubs encourage collaboration, sharing, and socialization among workers. Hubs allow workers to quickly engage and target the right people, whether they need to share content across the organization, discuss new user interface concepts with small groups, or send out information to the entire workforce. Users must be able to send instant messages to one recipient or an entire group.

5. Detailed Org Charts

If used correctly, org charts can be useful and encourage cooperation and innovation. Workers should have easy access to an intranet that provides a clear and concise organizational chart. It should include contact information, competencies, resources, as well as contact details. Searches by department, individual, geographical area, talent, or department must be possible. Administrators have the right to control what material is displayed to workers.

6. Simple Updates/Changes

Regular maintenance and updates are necessary for any intranet to ensure that it is accurate and useful. It shouldn't take too much time or be difficult to add a picture or modify the material. Many systems require technical expertise to accomplish these tasks, which is surprising considering how many of them are complex. The intranet should have an easy edit function for making changes and updating.

7. Announcements and News

An intranet is used by most companies to share internal information such as news articles. An intranet should have content creation tools that are as easy to use as the best content management systems. Text editing, image uploading, launch date selection, social media sharing, commenting, and "like" capabilities are key features.

8. Responsive Design for Mobile

Mobile-centric culture has made intranet access easier for workers. The responsive design implementation allows for quick intranet access on smartphones and other mobile devices. This results in a great user experience. Workers can access the intranet from any device, which allows them to respond quickly. It allows workers to communicate and consume information more easily.

9. Centralized File Management

Although it may not be as appealing as some other features, effective file management is vital for workers. It makes administrative tasks easier, like finding paperwork and important information. Intranets can be plagued by outdated documents. To prevent this, make sure that your file management software allows you to assign ownership rights to certain users.

10. Social Media-Like Homepage

Because they often serve as the entry point to intranet material, and sometimes the whole digital workplace, the homepage for an intranet is crucial. A homepage must be appealing and visually pleasing to maintain its traction. It should also aggregate messages and provide links and navigation to information and systems that workers require.

11. Automation of Workflow

Some duties, despite being commonplace, slow employees down. You should look for a business intranet that can automate and streamline many of these repetitive tasks. Although tasks such as document approval, task creation, and duty assignment are not time-consuming, they can add up over time. The more you automate workflows, the more your users can devote their efforts to other important aspects of their tasks.

12. Customization

You must be able to adapt your intranet to your brand and company's requirements. There might be organizational differences between departments. The intranet technology can also learn from its users and allow them to design the sites that they desire. This can be achieved through features like personalized accounts, labels to projects and abilities, author or like material, and so on.

13. Integrations With Third-Parties

Non-integrated networks can be difficult to use and isolate. Users may have access to a wide range of information and capabilities through an intranet that is connected with other apps like Google Workspace and SharePoint. Integration with business suites is a great way to make it easier for users to access information and create a cohesive work environment. You should also look for third-party connections via Application Programming Interfaces (APIS), such as HR planning, communication tools, and survey tools that can enrich your organization.

14. Data Security

Companies store sensitive and confidential information on internal communication platforms. They must protect against hackers, malicious, data breaches, and other hostile attacks. Organizations may also consider moving to cloud-based systems if they want to have a more secure network.

15. Sites and Pages for Companies

One can structure company strategy, regulations, and service contracts on unique intranet pages. This way, information can be distributed across departments and provided to everyone from a single location. Worker updates should be made available on company pages. They must also be flexible and user-friendly.

16. Learning Hubs

A learning center on an intranet is a great way to facilitate team member education. This provides workers with a single place to access training material, guides, or other resources. Your intranet may be used by HR to provide new employee orientation. This includes the safe sharing of corporate information before a team member's official starting date.

17. Multiple Language Support

Global organizations require services that are available in multiple locations. Multilingual intranets ensure that all employees have access to the same data and capabilities, regardless of their native languages. You can either use the built-in translator tools to localize materials or hire professional translators to provide more precise translations.

18. A Section For Blogs Authored

Blogs are the foundation of intranet participation by team members. Blogs allow team members to share their views, opinions, and suggestions. They also aid in understanding one another. While top-down information is essential for internal communications, intranets that allow employees to speak up are what encourage team member participation. The platform's democratic nature is demonstrated through forums, social commentary, and, most importantly, blogging.


The effectiveness of the intranet is being questioned in recent years. Is an intranet needed to support employee experience platforms? Yes. It creates a secure, customizable space that allows for collaboration, engagement, productivity, and creativity, which helps to build company culture.

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