What is an Intranet
and how can it benefit
your organization?

"What is an Intranet and how can it benefit your organization?",
"How do you create an intranet that engages and improves productivity?"
and "What is Omnia?".
These are some of the questions we often get.
This FAQ page contains common questions from our customers, and our answers.

Intranet definition, what is an intranet?

An intranet is a private internal communications network facilitating work processes, collaboration, communication, information storage and knowledge-sharing among employees. Modern intranets often use social media features allowing employees to blog, comment, share, discuss and interact with each other in an easy-going and efficient manner.

What is the purpose of an intranet?

The main purpose is to facilitate efficient, transparent, participative and inclusive communication and to make it easier for employees to collaborate, find and share information, tools, internal competence and knowledge. Ultimately, this will boost efficiency, flexibility, organizational cohesion and productivity.

How do intranets, the Internet and extranets differ?

The Internet is a global public communications network, accessible to anyone. An intranet is a private network, only allowing employees and others affiliated with the organization access. An intranet can also be bought and implemented as a Software as a Service (SaaS). An extranet is similar to an intranet in the sense that its a controlled private network and normally it’s a subset of the content and functionality of an organization's intranet. The difference between them is that while the intranet embrace the employees of an organization, the extranet extends outwards allowing access to authorized partners, suppliers, customers and other external users.

The Internet is not owned or controlled by anyone. Instead governments, corporations and organizations such as the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), the Internet Society (ISOC) and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) collaborate on Internet governance policies. This includes, for instance, IP address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment, domain name system (DNS) management etc. All of which is necessary for the Internet’s stable and secure operations.

What is an intranet site?

You’re probably well familiar with websites. It’s a collection of web pages and other related content which are held together by a common domain name and published on a web server. An Internet website is always public in the sense that anyone can surf to it via the Internet.

An intranet site is a website being hosted on a private network, only accessible to authenticated users, for instance the employees in a company or an organization. On the site users can search for internal information and colleagues, partake in discussions, collaborate on projects, share their thoughts and knowledge with the entire organization, access various work tools and much more.

Why is an intranet important?

An intranet is the most efficient platform for organization-wide communication and sharing of information, tools, competence and knowledge. In most organizations, it also serves as hub for internal collaboration, allowing for easy access to collaboration spaces, tools, teams, files, project templates etc. Gathering all information, documents, media files, tools and other resources in a single space also makes it considerably easier for the users to access and find anything they need to execute their work tasks. Consolidating news and other items of information in one place, combined with full transparency, also creates “one single version of the truth”. This reinforces the information’s reliability and trustworthiness, subsequently eliminating unnecessary misinterpretations, fake news and bad decisions based on inaccurate information.

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What are the uses of an intranet?

An intranet is mainly used as a tool to:

  • Distribute company and organizational news
  • Connect employees and facilitate smooth internal communication
  • Facilitate easy storage, accessibility, search and sharing of documents and other files in a well-structured manner
  • Make internal collaboration easier and more productive
  • Strengthen organizational cohesion; Boost employee engagement.

How do intranets work?

The prefix “intra” in “intranet” is Latin for “inside” or “within”. Since the Internet and an intranet works more or less the same you could say that an intranet is a miniature version of the Internet within a private network. A network confined within an organization, a company, a community, a municipality, a school etc. An intranet and the Internet both use the communications standard called TCP/IP to connect hosts to users on a network. They also use web pages to distribute and present texts, images, videos, forms and files to download as well as scripts to run and interact with (like chat rooms). A website on the Internet is hosted on a web server allowing for public access, which means that anyone in the world can surf it.

An intranet can either be an on-premises solution, installed on local web server at the company/organization, or a cloud-based solution. However, both solutions have restricted user access, for instance only allowing a company’s employees to enter. A cloud-based intranet is a little easier to access when away from the office, as it can be accessed as any other website on the internet (although you have to log in to the site using various security/authentication solutions). Many organizations and companies also make their on-premises intranets available for the users via the Internet using so called VPN, Virtual Private Networks.

What is an Employee intranet?

Many suppliers market their solutions as “Employee intranets”, but the core functionality of any other intranet is the same. Most intranets are designed for employees or other members of an organization. What defines an intranet is that it’s a private communications platform with restricted access. Obviously, the users of an intranet can also be members of a sports club, your local community or students in a school. The intranet’s functionality and content is adapted in accordance with the users’ needs and preferences. An intranet built for employees typically includes internal news, communities, an employee or a contacts directory, a search functionality and a leadership communications area. It should also include key areas of content enabling employees to execute their everyday tasks efficiently and find relevant information. Most employee-oriented intranets also have personalized profile pages listing the employees’ skills and projects, so that it’s easy to find internal competence and coworkers to chat, collaborate and make new connections with.

What is a social intranet?

Intranets which don’t allow for employee interaction, user-to-user communication or feedback are not social. Their main purpose is to distribute information and news in a top-down fashion and to make internal information and resources more accessible. A social intranet encourages the employees to get involved in discussions, improvement projects, knowledge-sharing and ideation processes etc. and to expand and strengthen their relationships within the organization. Read the blog post A social intranet boosts employee engagement to learn more about the features and benefits of a social intranet.

What is a corporate intranet?

A corporate intranet is a private communications platform, designed to assist the company’s employees in their daily work and their communications needs. Its main purpose is to enable internal communications and collaborations to run as efficiently and smoothly as possible, while at the same time ensuring a healthy scaling culture and the robust engagement of employees.

Why would a company use an intranet?

Without an intranet, internal communication is often a mixture of e-mails, chat messages in siloed collaboration spaces, SMS and verbal announcements in ad hoc and regular group meetings. It’s difficult to keep the information uniform and accessible to everyone at the same time. With an intranet, however, you can eliminate all inefficient channels and discrepancies in how the information is conveyed. An intranet also serve as hub for internal collaboration, allowing for easy access to collaboration spaces, tools, teams, files, project templates etc. Furthermore, gathering all information, documents, media files, tools and other resources in a single space makes it considerably easier for the users to access and find resources, thus boosting their productivity.

What is the business value of an intranet?

A cloud or local server-based intranet leads to many business improvements. Some of the main ones are:

  • Easy access to internal information and files
  • Effective connection of employees
  • Improved productivity
  • Strengthened organizational cohesion and engagement
  • Better internal communication and smoother internal collaboration
  • Consolidation of information, files, tools and collaborations in one place
  • More effective sharing of knowledge and skills and better innovation

What are the downsides of an intranet?

If not planned or managed properly an intranet can very well become a costly burden. It goes without saying that it’s not a good idea to build an intranet without first having a strategy in place. You otherwise risk creating a space no-one will visit, with poor results as a consequence. The strategy should, for instance, include a plan for finding out what content is relevant to the users and a plan for maintenance and governance in order to keep content constantly updated and tools and functions running smoothly. And without a well-planned information and navigation structure the intranet will fail in helping the users quickly find information and resources. Read the blog series Building a successful digital workplace to learn the Do’s and Don’ts when implementing a new intranet.

Which are the top 3 intranet best practices?

A best practice intranet is one which truly supports and engages the entire organization. To make that happen you need to know what drives the employees, what kind of content they’re interested in and which tools and functions they need in order to execute their tasks more efficiently. But first and foremost, you need to have a strategy in place, outlining the Whys and Hows, before embarking the implementation project. Read the blog post Building a successful digital workplace. Step 1: Create a strategy to learn more about creating an intranet strategy.

To set you off in the right direction, here’s the top three intranet best practices that’ll help you build a successful intranet:

1. Make the intranet the organization’s preferred choice of communication

In order to make the intranet the first source of information and communication you must include/integrate the employees’ preferred tools and channels in it. Some of the organization’s old tools and habits, such as mass emailing newsletters and company news, may even be eliminated as you move on to the new ways of working. If the users drift somewhere else to communicate and search for information, your intranet will eventually become empty and stale.

2. Fill the intranet with engaging and relevant content

It’s really quite simple to make the intranet a honey pot for the entire organization. Just ask the employees what content they want. And if your organization is large and heterogeneous, use the intranet platform’s targeting functionality so as to getting the right content to the right user. If your platform doesn’t have it – build it. It’s a crucial functionality in an intranet serving many users. Read the blog post Building a successful digital workplace. Step 2: Create an efficient structure to learn more about targeting and personalization.

3. Aim for the best user-experience, navigation and information structure

Offering a great user experience, easy navigation and a fast bullseye search engine will first of all make the intranet everyone’s preferred work tool. A tool you want to start every working day with. Secondly, it will boost productivity and employee engagement. But to achieve fast search results that actually deliver the right information and a navigation that leads the users quickly to their destination you need to have a well-structured information architecture behind the scenes. This is one of the first vital steps in an intranet implementation project. Learn more >>

How do you create an intranet?

There are basically three ways to build an intranet:

1. Custom build an intranet from scratch and host it on your local (in-house) server or in the cloud (online hosting service).

2. Custom build it with off-the-shelf intranet software and CMS (Content Management System) and host it locally or in the cloud. Software like Microsoft SharePoint can either be licensed for an on-premises installation or a cloud-based solution (SharePoint Online).

3. Build it using an intranet-in-a-box solution. With an in-a-box solution, you get most of the functions your organization will need included in the package. The platform will also be constantly updated by the vendor, so as to keep it healthy and in sync with technological advances.

Both alternatives 2 and 3 will save you tons of work and time. These intranet software solutions come with a standard set of features that can be adapted to meet your organization’s requirements and include templates, step-by-step wizards, preset information structures, etc. The fastest route to having an intranet up and running is choosing alternative 3, an intranet-in-a-box. If you’re happy with the solution’s standard features, and its preset information and navigation structure, all you have to do is to populate it with your content and choose the right graphical layout options. An intranet-in-a-box can also be customized to your organization’s specific needs, processes, and line of business. Learn more about the intranet-in-a-box product Omnia, which has won the ClearBox Intranet Choice Award for several consecutive years.

How do you create an intranet that engages and improves productivity?

An intranet stuffed with outdated and irrelevant information, built strictly for top-down communication, will not improve employee engagement. It will most likely have the opposite effect. To boost engagement the contents of the intranet have to be relevant to every user. The intranet must also allow for bottom-up communication, preferably encouraging the users to partake in discussions and to share their ideas and knowledge with their colleagues and the management. Intranets with social media features, enabling the users to comment and share news, announcements other posts are usually more engaging compared to non-social intranets. Especially if everyone is allowed to publish their own blog posts. Other factors driving engagement are transparent, uniform and inclusive communication and well-structured feedback processes ensuring that the management always notices and responds to the employees’ engagements.

Many companies and organizations today aim to have accessible on the intranet every single item of information, digital tool, document and process necessary for employees to carry out their work tasks and for the optimization of employee self-service. In doing so, the intranet is made the hub of the digital workplace. Having everything accessible via a single platform reduces the time and effort required to find anything, thereby boosting employees’ productivity.

What should an Intranet include?

To build a successful modern intranet there are a number of features which should be included in the platform. Some of these are:

Content creation, publishing and governance

Easy-to-use tools for creating, publishing and managing pages, news, events, blog posts and other content are essential for building and managing an attractive intranet. The publishing and governance tools should include proper owner and life-cycle management functions, ensuring constantly updated and relevant content. With these tools you can, for instance, ensure that stale content will be archived automatically or reviewed by its owners.

It’s also important to have built-in support for various publishing and editing rights. These settings control who is permitted to do what, such as altering graphical layout, editing text, menus and other content or simply being granted reading access. This is to avoid information anarchy and general uncertainty over what is allowed and not allowed on the intranet.

Personalized timelines and notifications

Personalization is key when creating an intranet that really matters to the employees. If the users can’t find relevant information fast and easy, they’ll try other ways and lose interest in the intranet.

To drive adoption and engagement, and help the employees get the information and resources they need to execute their work efficiently, you must personalize the intranet’s user experience. This includes things like a personalized start page, a subscription-based notifications panel, a user-oriented navigation structure, a My tasks page or block and targeting options for being able to address news, announcements, blog posts and other content to the right user groups.

File sharing and Document Management

Your intranet platform will either integrate with existing or external file-sharing solutions, like Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox, or have its own file storage solution.

Several intranet platforms, including Omnia, offer support for efficient document management, comprising functions facilitating the processes of creating, editing, structuring and collaborating on documents. A document management system makes it easier for the user to see when and by whom a document has been created and edited. Duplicates are eliminated, the many versions of a document are saved for later review, and you know exactly where every document is stored. Document management systems can also be used to build integrated case management or approval processes.


Most users prefer to use the search function to find information, files, news and even discussions on the intranet. It’s a lot faster than having to navigate via menus and scroll pages up and down to find what you’re looking for. But, of course, it depends on the search engine’s performance and features.

Make certain that the platform’s search functionality can be customized so that, using search filters, users can faster find what they’re looking for in collaboration spaces, conversations and communities. There’s often a need to find a certain document, a discussion, a note or a high value tip in a context the user can have forgotten about.


Having an events calendar on the start page is a hygiene factor. This allows you to promote important internal and external events such as product campaigns, kick-off events, sports activities etc.

Employee profile and directory

Most intranet platforms have an Employee directory of sorts. Many of them can auto generate the directory from an HR database or similar directory service. An Employee directory enable users to efficiently search for colleagues and internal competencies across the entire organization, based on various search parameters such as job titles, skill sets etc.

In order to get competence search as well as targeting, user-restricted accessibility and task-oriented search to work, the employees need to provide comprehensive user profiles. Their education, competencies, certifications, experiences, responsibilities and work roles etc. should all be registered. Otherwise it’s impossible to conduct a successful competence search or match content and resources with the right users. So make sure your intranet platform supports this type of user profile and that the users are meticulous in providing all the personal details required. It can, in fact, be a good idea to make some of the profile fields mandatory.


A common objective for an intranet and the digital workplace as a whole is to drive employee engagement and productivity by giving users the means to easily interact and collaborate. Modern intranets allow users to directly work on files of various formats and applications in their productivity suite, like Microsoft 365. Being able to work and collaborate directly on files, without having to exit the intranet and fire up an external application, make conversations and collaborations more efficient and focused on the mission. This requires that the intranet platform provides smooth integration capabilities with external services and third party applications.

By using templates, you can also ensure that collaborations are started and managed in an efficient, consistent and uniform manner and that the applications environment is kept in an orderly state. Since a template contains designated tools, resources and applications and works like a step-by-step guide it’s very easy for the users to initiate and manage a collaboration. Many intranet platforms include provisioning templates for creating collaboration teams comprising resources such as SharePoint, Planner, Teams, Yammer, etc.

Communities and social interaction

Strengthening the organizational cohesion is what you truly want to accomplish with your intranet. Uniting a global workforce is no cakewalk, and keeping them engaged is even harder. A modern intranet with social features, allowing the employees to interact, bond and get involved in conversations about business improvements or just small talk, will help a great deal. When everyone can communicate freely and easily with anyone in the organization, and the voices and opinions of all employees are equally important, then new synergies, untamed creativity, and enhanced employee engagement will automatically follow.

To build a social intranet you need a platform comprising tools for creating and managing communities and social media features enabling the users to like, comment and share blog post, news and other content. There are, of course, many other functions and practices which will help you create a successful social intranet. You can, for instance, use gamification as a method to boost engagement and encourage knowledge-sharing. Read the blog post A social intranet boosts employee engagement to learn more.

Forms and polls

Conducting regular user/employee surveys is probably the best way to find out what drives engagement and adoption on the intranet. And with an easy-to-build survey form it’s done in a flash. You can use surveys and polls to check the organization’s opinion about anything and it’s an excellent method to get people’s attention and involvement. Make sure the intranet platform includes good tools for creating and analyzing surveys and quick polls.

Analytics and reporting

In order to make the right decisions when developing and improving the intranet over time you need to have powerful analytics tools which deliver reports on usage, outdated or under-used content, checked-out pages and user patterns etc. With these tools you’ll be able to measure and gauge employee engagement on a broad scale or a just for a specific blog post, a campaign or an announcement.

Mobile access

Today, when practically everyone sleeps with their mobile phones next to them, mobile adaption of the intranet is absolutely vital if you want to optimize internal communications. Even if the users spend a large part of their days in front of a computer, the mobile phone plays a significantly bigger role in their lives. At many workplaces, employees may not even have a computer.

The mobile phone, or a tablet, is perhaps the only digital communications device available. Thinking mobile, from a user’s perspective, is thus key to building a popular intranet.

Custom branding

To point out the obvious, if the intranet is designed with your brand’s look and feel it will make the employees feel more at home and united. It will most certainly strengthen your brand as well as the organization will become more attached to the brand as they will be constantly influenced by its graphic expression.

The intranet platform of your choosing should naturally allow you to brand the intranet site in your colors and themes, your fonts and your logo.

When was the intranet invented?

It’s really hard to know when the first web-based intranet was built and launched, but a good guess would be sometime in the early 1990s as it was then HyperText Markup Language, HTML, was introduced. The first version of HTML was written by Tim Berners-Lee in 1993. According to some people Hewlett-Packard introduced the first version, or rather prototype, of an intranet in 1974 when they launched the internal communications system Comsys. The system created a network in which computers at Hewlett-Packard facilities all over the globe communicated with each other via phone lines, distributing messages between employees. It’s obviously a far cry from what we consider being an intranet today, but for its time the technology was groundbreaking.


What is an intranet software?

An intranet software is an application which enables the construction of a private secure network and communications platform, only accessible to authenticated users, for instance the employees in a company. An intranet platform usually comprises a collection of applications working seamlessly together in creating a unified user experience and a single entry point to internal information, documents, communications and collaboration tools and other resources.

Can an intranet be hacked?

Practically any system can be hacked. Intranets are no exception. Some organizations choose to host the intranet on-premises just for that reason. But even if an intranet is hosted locally, with no user access via the Internet, it is susceptible to hacker attacks and malicious software. A nasty code can be introduced into the network via, for instance, a thumb drive. And since the users are using email and surfing the internet there are plenty of opportunities for hackers to bait them into clicking on malicious links or downloading infected files.

But there’s no reason to panic. With proper firewall and malware protection, a robust password and authentication (preferably multifactor authentication) policy, strict rules about what the users are allowed to do on their computers and the network, and keeping the entire software portfolio constantly updated you can keep most of the hackers at bay. A strong defense system is built in layers and the more valuable assets you want to protect, the more security layers you need around them.

What is a modern intranet?

A modern intranet supports flexible/hybrid working and is designed for bottom-up, participative and inclusive communication and collaboration. It typically ditches top-down communication and hierarchical information structures. Instead, it’s structured for personalized and targeted distribution of information and news so as to increase the relevance of its content to each user. A modern intranet is more or less synonymous with a social intranet as it’s developed to engage the organization and help employees to connect and build relationships, as well as share information and knowledge.

A modern intranet usually acts as entry point to an organization’s digital workplace, thereby consolidating all information, internal collaborations, tools and other digital resources in one place. This helps employees to find just about anything faster, which makes them more efficient and more productive.

What is Omnia?

Omnia is a modern and flexible Microsoft 365 and SharePoint-based intranet-in-a-box solution. It comprises leading-edge tools for communication, collaboration and governance which help companies and organizations improve internal communication, collaboration and knowledge-sharing. 

Why choose Omnia as your intranet solution?

Precio Fishbone’s award-winning intranet platform Omnia delivers leading performance and an intuitive, personalized and task-oriented user experience on all devices. Its fully featured intranet capabilities cater for both simple and complex publishing scenarios and ensure that content is constantly fresh and accurate and that users stay updated. It provides tools for targeted internal communication, streamlined collaboration and advanced search, all of which reduce the time users spend searching for information and help them collaborate and execute their work more efficiently. The platform also includes functionality and support for Document and Quality Management Systems, coupled with a process visualization tool (Process Viewer).

Omnia’s rich social features, like its smart templates and wizards for creating communities, can support an organization in strengthening its workplace cohesion and boosting knowledge-sharing and employee engagement. Omnia’s integration capabilities also enable smooth integration with internal and external applications, providing the users a unified digital workplace experience.

With Omnia a company or an organization can consolidate and integrate its entire information archive, documents, processes, collaborations and tools in one place. This will make any item of information or other internal resource accessible via a single entry point and provide the organization a “single version of the truth”. All in all, this will boost productivity, engagement and the organization’s ability to create a better future for itself. The platform also provides unique capabilities for future adaptation and development, backed by Precio Fishbone’s support as your needs evolve.

Explore how Omnia can help you!

Want to rejuvenate your employee engagement but don’t know where to start? Would you like to learn more about Omnia or schedule a product demo? Contact us, we’re here to help!