Friday, June 1, 2007

Intranet Implementation and Improvement Part 1 of 3

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This post is part of a series on intranet implementation and improvement. Please click on the links to read further:

Part 2
Part 3

Introduction

The intranet has become one of today’s most effectual and popular tools for knowledge management in organizations. Due to advances in networking and distributed computing, intranets can easily be implemented, maintained, and upgraded. Although usually associated with large companies, an intranet can be a valuable business tool for smaller organizations.

Many intranets have grown organically as features are added as needed. Unfortunately, the lack of pre-planning leads to sites that are hard to manage. Due to the amount of work involved in designing a new intranet or redesigning an existing one, many organizations, especially smaller ones, have chosen to improve their intranet incrementally.

Definition

An intranet is an open transmission control protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP) based network that utilizes a browser as its interface, runs Internet applications over the local area network (LAN), and exists behind a firewall (Guengerich et al., 1997). It provides a universally common interface for diverse organizational processes, which significantly reduces training costs.

An intranet is a private network that grants access to a select group. It allows collaboration, interaction, and concurrent information sharing across departments and levels, supporting a flat organizational structure. Intranets are created for information retrieval, sharing, and management; communication and collaboration; and access to databases and applications. (See Table 1 below for a list of common intranet applications.) Muller (2002) suggests that organizations adopt intranets to assist legacy system access. Data can be stored and distributed to a large group quickly, subsequently improving an organization’s productivity and competitiveness in the world (Jen et al., 2007).

Common Intranet Applications

Task support: Workspaces, access to files, applications, rules, procedures, regulations, product guides, policy manuals

Communication: Email, chat, forums, whiteboard, teleconferencing

Self-service: Reservation applications, interactive forms, address books, calendars, calculators, directories

Human Resources: Benefits, personnel information, E-learning, development and training models, new employee information, vacancies, staff announcements

The purpose of the Internet is to attract repeat visitors in large numbers. It builds an audience that participates in a one-directional relationship of information to its users. The intranet, on the other hand, has a bi-directional course of information between creators and users, which empowers both parties (Jacoby & Luqi, 2007, Telleen, 1997).

Unlike other organizational data systems, intranets do not address specific needs, but provide universal assistance (Newell et al., 2000). They accelerate the flow of information between employees, clients, and vendors which helps the organization meet its objectives. Since the intranet infrastructure links with other information systems, a complete enterprise network is formed.

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