Web Design Part 4 – Do you need an Intranet?

First off, let me begin by saying thanks to anyone who reads these posts on my blog. That’s right, thanks to both of you.

So, the other day I was thinking about the Internet, and also, what an intranet is. It seems a lot of people don’t know really what an intranet is, or if they need one. So hopefully by the end of this blog post I’ve explained what one is, why some companies need them while others don’t, and what they should be used for, though there’s a lot more ideas than I could probably come up with in one sitting, and that’s why I believe in working with like-minded creative and business individuals in order to make something that works well for everyone. Unfortunately we all know not everyone will get the same benefit from any website, product or service that someone else would, no matter how hard you try to make that happen — thus the story of the committee and the camel.

To start, the thing we use all day long – the World Wide Web, runs on the Internet, which most people know. The network (Internet) that every Tom, Dick and Harry has access to to get to websites, ftp files, and so on, runs pretty much on an unprotected network that everyone has access to — thus the issue with sensitive data, and the need for secure (HTTPS) websites when doing things like paying bills on-line.  That’s one reason why corporations and governments started using intranets — secure networks that only their employees have access to, either from within their corporate offices, or from home by logging in with secure access via some sort of password and digital key FOB.

Little known to most of the public, the internet as we know it today was originally the first intranet, designed to allow universities and the government to send files back and forth as well as email each other, way before the Swedes came up with HTML and the idea of the World Wide Web. Yes, there was an internet before Al Gore invented it, though there is some evidence he did invent Bill Gates…

Turn to many years later, and you have everyone using the Internet — for email, getting on the web, sharing photos, transferring files, and even making phone calls.  So, companies and the governments needed a way to have email, file transferring, and sharing information not intended for the public away from the public. Thus the inTRAnet. Which even to this day I hear people in IT who should know the difference between that and the inTERnet continue to confuse. The question is, does your company need an intranet?

First, is your company less than 50 people? Than you really don’t need an intranet.
Does your company have a whole ton of people, spread out over a region in different offices? Then you do need an intranet.  Yes, I know that’s pretty basic math, and there are a whole lot of other reasons to have one, but that’s for you and your IT and business people to figure out.

So, among most of the reasons to have your own intranet would be:
1. Secure email solution
2. Posting of company information, including all the communications to the employees to keep them abreast of new things happening, how to get benefits and changes in those, upcoming meetings, videos of the CEO or President giving his quarterly speech, a company wide directory, and so on and so on. The point being is instead of mailing all this information to your employee’s homes, it’s all on your company intranet website, also known as an employee portal.
3. Secure file transfers to your servers.
4. Secure file transfers to each other.

And I could go on as more things come to me. Just remember that a good intranet website shouldn’t end up becoming a camel, and then you’ll have a great communications tool for you and your employees.

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