Intranet Software: What Is an Intranet, and How Can You Build One?
Jan 28, 2021
By: Stefan Schinkel
Proper internal communication makes or breaks a company. Without the right tools to communicate, your workers' efforts have an increased chance of failure.
With hundreds of intranet software solutions in the market, the intranet market is highly competitive. However, for software to qualify as an intranet, it should provide both a centralized hub and the resources to make your employees' workday easier.
An intranet improves communication within the organization, and enables employees to access important information, links, apps, and databases that can enhance company productivity and record-keeping. Plus, intranets increase company security and restrict access to the network for non-employees.
Before we dive deeper into how intranets help companies and how you can build one, let's define intranet software and talk about the types of intranets.
What Is Intranet Software?
According to Gartner, an intranet is "a network internal to an enterprise that uses the same methodology and techniques as the internet but is accessible only to employees."
An intranet software serves as a focal point for the company's internal communication and collaboration. It gives employees a single starting point to access both internal and external resources.
Modern intranets enable workers to go beyond the physical workplace and digitize their operations, giving employees a centralized hub where their information is always available. It is easily accessible for remote employees and those in-house, enabling the transition to a fully digital workplace.
The Anatomy of An Intranet
Not all intranets are created equal. Some intranets consist of nothing more than email service and file sharing, but others include full-fledged document asset management, collaboration tools, and firewalls. Modern intranet software solutions are made up the following parts:
- Network: Modern intranets use different protocols and transmission control technologies like PPP or TCP/IP designed to be viewed and used through a web browser.
- File Sharing: Intranets use file and asset sharing systems that enable users to provide folders that can be opened and accessed by specific users and employees.
- Communication: Modern intranets use discussion groups, instant messaging, team meetings, and internal web servers to post internal websites for other employees to view.
- Collaboration: Intranet software has collaboration tools like calendars, virtual workspaces, public messages and chats to enable cross-team collaboration.
- Internet access: Intranets provide web access within a company network, enabling workers to look for all the information they need.
Security: Intranets need to be secure because companies don't want outsiders to access their information. Intranets also use firewalls to prevent workers from accessing non-work-related websites.
Types of Intranets
This is the most basic type of intranet. An internal web is an information repository that also serves as an asset management system for all the company documents. A modern internal web gives users all the information they need in an easy to parse way.
Internal webs typically store:
- Policy and procedure manuals
- Documentation templates
- Surveys and feedback
- Company newsletters
- Software use guides
- And reference guides
A B2C portal typically supports environments where back office processes and customer communications are offloaded and automated to enhance the customer experience. B2C portals also enable customers to self-serve themselves and can be used to make changes to subscriptions and support reimbursements processes.
B2C portals typically include:
- Self-service support
- Personalized customer experiences
- Distribution of policies and documents
- And creation and tracking of support tickets
Employees are not disqualified from being consumers. On the contrary, to an extent, your employees should be your first customers, and the business to employee experience should be your top priority. A B2E portal is a centralized hub that includes an intranet software and, at the same time, gives employees productivity and communication tools.
B2E portals typically include:
- Third-party integrations
- Cloud-native infrastructure
- Automation of tiresome tasks
- Internal communication and knowledge sharing
- eLearning capabilities for employee self-training
The Benefits of An Intranet Software
Intranets are no longer the clunky software of the nineties. Intranet software has changed with time, and a modern intranet can do much more than simply locate files. Let's take a look at the benefits of a modern intranet.
- Connects your company across locations and time zones: Intranets are the central hub of a company. With the sharp increase in remote work and the advent of the digital workplace, intranets are the place where company news are shared and events planned, regardless of their location.
- Simplifies employee onboarding: Intranets allow your employees to find and access every document they need to understand their role at the workplace, including organization charts, employee bios, and company-culture relevant data.
- Reduces unnecessary meetings and emails: Intranet software with integrated chat features make discussions simple and timely, helping employees ditch emails and encourage quicker, productive conversations as opposed to long email chains.
- Improved employee engagement: With an intranet, employees can feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves. Since intranets are a place for employees to communicate with one another and stay connected, it gives employees a simpler way of staying connected to their company culture.
Using a Hybrid CMS to Power Your Intranet
The steep pace at which digital transformation is occurring means that organizations have to find ways to adapt to new trends in the digital workplace. Essentially, old, clunky intranet software that doesn't support your customer and employee experience is out of the picture.
With a hybrid CMS like dotCMS, you gain a software tool capable of building an intranet and delivering relevant digital experiences to your employees and customers.
With the right technology in place, brands can connect their intranet with learning management systems and other third-party software to deliver a much more personalized employee experience. For instance, to detect behavioral patterns in search history, interests, and interactions with other employees.
Leveraging dotCMS, users can build full-fledged B2E portals that offer a much more comprehensive employee care capabilities than traditional intranets. B2E portals are centered around the individual employee experience and give each employee a unique experience.
Plus, with dotCMS' NoCode tools, users can create a portal or an intranet from scratch using no-code tools at a fraction of the cost of a traditional intranet built by a dedicated team of developers. This also means fewer data silos within your company and gives decision-makers a 360º view of the overall employee experience while allowing each employee to interact with the brand on a personal level.
A hybrid CMS also empowers decision-makers by serving them data and relevant insights of how customers are engaging with the company, in the case of B2C portals; and metrics on employee performance and engagement, in the case of B2B portals. Similarly, it makes sure that all your information is safe within a protected environment, simplifying content delivery and mitigating risks.
dotCMS and Telus: Revamping An Employee Portal
One of the issues that many companies face is that they manage their intranets and company portals through IT teams who maintain and store the data on servers and data centers. The problem with this approach is that it alienates the business and non-technical users who are, in the end, the ones who use the intranet the most.
As a result of this disjointed approach, the portals rarely perform to their full potential, causing issues and becoming clunky museum pieces that nobody really cares about. Having an intranet that underperforms can be extremely damaging and difficult to mend in the long run.
That's why Telus, the Canadian telecommunications company, was looking for a partner to revamp their existing portal and replace it with a modern intranet software that serves over 4,000 retail stores across the country.
Before implementing dotCMS' solution, it took content editors 10 minutes to get from the main login screen to the content input section. That caused users a great deal of frustration.
Now, with dotCMS AWS cloud hosting, there are no latency issues within the portal. Also, with dotCMS’ content import tool, users could migrate all their content from their old intranet to the new one.
All in all, with dotCMS intranet solution, Telus could:
- Open the intranet and edit content in 30 seconds rather than 10 minutes,
- Open their intranet on any browser, both mobile and desktop,
- Reduce IT and infrastructure costs,
- Gain flexibility thanks to their SaaS approach,
- Create a mobile intranet experience for users.
If you want to learn more about intranet software, company portals, and B2E portals, download our case study and learn how Telus revamped their old intranet and gained a solid foothold on the digital ecosystem: TELUS Case Study: Revamping a Portal System with dotCMS.