The bottom line for enterprises is that an intranet can add value to their business. They are exclusive cyber zones where employees and other stakeholders can fully interact and get good business done. Intranets have developed into all singing, all dancing, easy to use software platforms and successful businesses are those that integrate their intranet fully into their daily business. Unsuccessful businesses are those who still think their intranet is just an interesting add-on.
Three important factors have given rise to this intranet phenomenon. Firstly the latest versions of browsers and the underpinning technology has developed at incredible speed and in response to the needs of enterprise. Secondly the trend towards ‘cloud’ computing rather than isolated, underutilized personal computing has bred a culture of web based users at the middle levels of enterprises. Last but not least is the trend for users to be in contact with home base while on the move and to have content that is essential to their work at their fingertips 24-7.
Unfortunately for them, but some companies are less intranet focused than many. The slow uptake is explained by all the usual organization suspects; not enough people in key positions with an understanding of the power of the Web, general intellectual inertia within work groups with a ‘wait and see’ approach to the rapid pace of change and many are guilty of digging in their heels when committed to investment in local ‘bubble’ software, training and support infrastructure.
The rise and rise of intranets and ‘extranets’ bring huge competitive advantage to the companies that embrace them. They first and foremost engage various groups within a business with useful and interesting interfaces, vital information that is valid and timely and functionality appropriate to the level of user know how. Intranets also allow the correct level of interaction with suppliers, customers and other business partners. Importantly, an intranet is a two-way communication device and not simply a vehicle for top down decrees. In commercial terms modern intranet software, at its best leverages the intelligence within an enterprise and at the lowest level gives an up to date review of the latest data.
‘Cloud’ computing is the best name and description for the intranet boom, because intranets nowadays are so widespread in scope that they are impossible to pin down. Nearly all software now bought by companies is web based. With the exception of vertical business software for banks etc, intranet software is causing the demise of last generation local file creating software such as ‘MS Office’ or Excel. Web based software is generally licensed and permission based and thus by definition is an intra/extranet application. The things that this software now does were previously the exclusive domain of expert software solution companies.
Businesses that take advantage of modern intranet technology will set themselves free from geographical boundaries. They will not only be able to manage their web content and company documents but also share with authorized parties, information such as project based processes, supply and logistics data, sales revenue and potential leads. In fact all five business functions can be integrated and improved continuously and more quickly than ever before.