• Share this:
What is an intranet? A guide for 2024

8 min read

What is an intranet? A guide for 2024

Discover the ins and outs of intranets in 2024: what they are, their benefits, drawbacks, and why organizations are moving beyond them.

“What is an intranet, anyway?”

After a few hours of research into intranets, you might find yourself asking that very question. They all sorta look the same, and all claim to do the same things in slightly different ways. There’s not much to tell them apart, or clarify what they actually do. 

This article helps answer that question. We explain the purpose of an intranet, why companies use them, and whether they’re still relevant in the modern workplace.

Let’s get to it.

Table of Contents 

What is an intranet? A simple definition
What is the purpose of an intranet?
Potential benefits of intranets
Problems with intranets
Should you get an intranet in 2024?
The need for more: a platform that helps employees succeed
Moving on from modern intranets

What’s an intranet? A simple definition

For those not in the know, let’s start off with a deep-dive explanation of what an intranet is all about. We’ll deal with the techie part first. 

An intranet is a private computer network that operates within an organization, typically companies, educational institutions, or even government agencies. However, while it uses internet protocols and technologies, an intranet is limited to users within your organization. Intranets are used to facilitate communication, collaboration, document sharing, and various other internal processes employees may be engaged in.

Intranets typically feature internal websites, email systems, document repositories, discussion forums, and more. Each of these features are only accessible to authorized users within the organization.

What is the purpose of an intranet?

While explaining the what, I have given some clues into the why. But sometimes clues aren’t enough, right? Here are three reasons why companies use intranets:

Share information

An intranet can serve as a centralized platform for sharing information within your organization. There are no limits to the information you choose to share but often this includes announcements, company policies, updates, and any important documents.

By providing a single location for information, an intranet ensures that your employees have easy access to the latest news and resources. Obviously, this has many benefits, but perhaps the most important is the transparency an intranet allows for. Additionally, it keeps everyone across the organization in alignment.

Connect employees

With work-from-home and remote teams so common now, having an intranet will help connect any employee who is either geographically dispersed or simply working in another department. With features like employee directories, messaging systems, and a variety of collaboration tools, intranets help make and keep communication and collaboration between colleagues alive and well.

Having this sort of connectivity enhances teamwork, encourages knowledge sharing, and promotes a sense of community within the company.

Store information

Finally, intranets serve as repositories for storing information that’s critical to your organization’s operations. This could include documents, manuals, training materials, project files, and more. By centralizing this information in a secure digital environment, intranets make it easier for employees to find what they need when they need it. Obviously, this can improve efficiency and productivity across the organization. 

Having said that, it’s important to note that providing a company intranet doesn’t mean that everyone has access to all of your information. Access permissions can be implemented so that confidentiality remains in place where necessary. Additionally, version control can ensure data integrity.

Potential benefits of intranets

If you've never had an intranet, they might help improve your org-wide communication. Here are some benefits organizations hope to see when implementing an intranet (or an alternative platform): 

Improved communication

Leaders can share the latest company news through top-down announcements. However, consider platforms that also support peer-to-peer and bottom-up communication to create a transparent, inclusive, and silo-free workplace. 

Increased productivity

With a central hub for all your important updates and information, people have access to everything they need to get their work done. You’ll see employees gain focus, as they spend less time hunting for the right documents. This leads to better business efficiency and cost savings for the organization.

Higher levels of connection

Opportunities for coworkers to socialize with each other, potentially leading to a subsequent decrease in staff turnover. If your company culture translates on your intranet, there will be greater visibility of the business vision, values, and direction.

The problem with intranets

While the benefits are certainly attractive—people who have used intranets before know they aren't great at solving the problems they set out to solve.

Change happens faster than ever in today’s world of work. Teams are often a mixture of in-office and remote, and new information comes across our desk (or phones) at a head-spinning pace. For those reasons, intranets struggle to live up to their intended purpose–despite their alleged benefits. Here are some common problems organizations encounter with their intranet:

Costly and timely to implement

Intranets take months to onboard, and they generally charge by user count. This requires a tremendous amount of effort, investment, and resources from HR, IT, Communications, and other departments. 

Difficult and frustrating to find information

Creating a new page for every new topic and initiative compounds the problem of intranet bloat. New pages pile on old ones, so it quickly becomes difficult to find what you need to know what is relevant. This is extremely frustrating and may highly disrupt the digital employee experience. 

Bring your people together

Poor user experience

Collections of hard-to-navigate pages means that an intranet is often cluttered and unsuccessful. Not only do files quickly become out-of-date, but people spend hours hunting for the correct information. 

Lack of mobile functionality

Traditional intranets typically support desktop browsing but neglect mobile experiences. Therefore, deskless workers are excluded and can’t access the intranet while they’re on the road—few intranet providers support a mobile app, and the majority of them feel like an afterthought.

These problems mean that users find themselves either distracted by barrages of notifications, tuned out from the noise (irrelevant content), or frustrated by the poor user experience and lack of mobile support. This is what we call the engagement trap—rather than increasing collaboration, the onslaught of notifications and lack of clarity frustrates employees instead.

Now what? 

Should you get an intranet in 2024?

Honestly? That’s a question only you can answer. However, it’s always best to make decisions only after you’ve collected enough information and data. Here are some things to consider:

  • Intranets often fail to modernize. They clutter and break, siloing off your organization:
      • Intranets, particularly older or outdated versions, often struggle to keep up with modern technological advances and user expectations
      • Over time, intranets can become cluttered with outdated content, broken links, and inefficient features, all of which can lead to a poor user experience
      • Traditional intranets often create silos within organizations, where departments or teams have limited visibility and collaboration with others
      • Maintaining an intranet can be time-consuming and costly, requiring constant updates, troubleshooting, and technical support to keep them running smoothly
  • A better choice is a more modern platform, focused on enabling high-performing, happy workplaces:
    • Organizations that are aiming for high-performance employee satisfaction may find that traditional intranets lack the features and capabilities needed to meet these goals
    • Modern platforms offer a range of advanced features such as real-time collaboration tools, social networking capabilities, mobile accessibility, and personalized user experiences
    • These platforms are designed to foster communication, collaboration, and engagement among employees, ultimately contributing to a more positive and productive work environment
    • When they invest in a modern platform, organizations are better positioned to stay competitive, attract top talent, and adapt to the changing needs of their workplace and industry

The need for more: a platform that helps employees succeed

At the end of the day, you want software that’s going to help employees feel accomplished in their work and give them a sense of belonging within the organization. Intranets aren’t the solution you’re looking for.

It’s been reported that only 13% of employees use their company's intranet daily. One of the biggest reasons for that is that the software they use isn’t user-friendly nor intuitive to learn. Talk about unengaging. 

What modern organizations need is a platform that focuses on success instead of spamming employees under the guise of engagement. It can no longer simply provide employees with documentation and files. 

Employees want to be enabled and celebrated, not just engaged. But it’s not something the intranets of today’s world are equipped to do, especially in a digital workplace. 

In today’s people-centric workplace, your platform should help connect:

  • Colleagues: Keep employees digitally connected to find the right people quickly. It should effectively support communication and collaboration even in remote work environments. 
  • Leaders: Modern collaboration tools should enable leaders to share updates and model company values, but also encourage two-way communication.
  • Information: Employees spend lots of time searching for the right people and resources. They need to get relevant, quick updates without the expense of their time and focus.
  • Company culture: In a hybrid world, everyone should be exposed to your company culture, whether in the office or at home. You’ll need a communication tool that breaks down silos and surfaces real employee stories.

Moving on from modern intranets

So what is an intranet? Basically, they’re software that can’t keep up with the ever-evolving workplace. They’re just not the right tool for the job and they’re on the way out. When all is said and done, you want employees engaged and making meaningful contributions. And for that, you need to create a culture of success


Why do intranets keep failing?

Learn why organizations are moving beyond traditional intranets, opting for an easy to launch and maintain solution instead.

Show me why

Gabe Scorgie

  • Share this:

Add your comments