Today’s Internet Business Solutions
Let’s take a look at some of the Internet business
solutions that companies are driven to implement in order
to improve their productivity and stay competitive. These
What Is an Intranet?
An intranet is an internal network based
on Internet and World Wide Web technology that delivers immediate,
up-to-date information and services to networked employees
Whether providing capabilities to download
the latest sales presentation, arrange travel, or report a
defective disk drive to the technical assistance center, an
intranet offers a common, platform-independent interface that
is consistent, easy to implement, and easy to use.
Initially, organizations used intranets almost exclusively
as publishing platforms for delivering up-to-the-minute information
to employees worldwide. Increasingly, however, organizations
are broadening the scope of their intranets to encompass interactive
services that streamline business processes and reduce the
time employees spend on routine, paper-based tasks.
Intranet applications are platform-independent, so they are
less costly to deploy than traditional client/server applications,
and they bear no installation and upgrade costs since employees
access them from the network using a standard Web browser.
Finally, and perhaps most important, intranets enhance employees’
productivity by equipping them with powerful, consistent tools.
Typical Intranet Applications
Most companies can benefit from an intranet.
Here are some sample applications:
self-service provides your employees with the ability to access
information at any time from anywhere they want. It enables
employees to independently access vital company information.
Employee self-service allows companies to save on labor costs
as well as increase employee productivity and communication.
We’ll look at this in more detail.
training becomes more accessible through distance learning
over the data network, which can draw employees from many
sites into a single virtual classroom, saving them travel
time and keeping them more productive.
with limited IS staff can deploy an intranet server to answer
frequently asked technical questions, house software that
users can download, and provide documentation on a variety
of subjects. Users gain instant access to key technical assistance,
while IS staff can concentrate on other matters.
way to bring team members together without calling for travel,
video conferencing is now possible over a data network, bypassing
the need for an expensive parallel network. Intranets can
make videoconferences easier to set up and use.
Example: Employee Self-Service
These are some of the employee self-service
Let’s take a look at one in detail. By posting HR benefits
information on an intranet, employees can look up routine
information without taking up the time of a benefits administrator,
thus reducing total headcount requirements. By giving employees
the ability to look this information up anytime they wish,
they are not confined to making their inquiries during regular
business hours. And, they don’t have to wait on hold
while another employee is being assisted, resulting in saved
In addition, by posting general benefits information on the
internal Web site, HR is able to spend their time in more
productive, strategic ways that ultimately benefit the company,
as well as reduce the costs of having an administrator available
on the phone all day.
Another example is corporate travel. Many employees travel
frequently. New intranet applications that store an employee’s
travel preferences can make it easy for employees to request
or even book travel arrangements at any time of the day or
night, enabling companies to provide this vital service at
a lower cost.
As you can see, intranet applications are a win/win for both
employees and the company.
Benefits of Intranets
Intranets are rapidly gaining wide acceptance
because they make network applications much easier to access
and use. Intranets enable self-service.
Intranets allow you to:
- Improve design productivity and compress time-to-market, for
example, by providing engineers with immediate access to online
parts information and requisitions.
- Increase productivity through greater employee collaboration.
- Share or access vital information at any time, from any location.
For example, you can extend intranets around the world, for
instance, to sales offices in London and Tokyo. Now sales
teams or manufacturing plants in Asia can quickly access information
on servers at the central office in the United States—and
it’s easier to use.
- Minimize downtime and cut maintenance costs by providing work
teams with complete electronic work packages.
- Lower administrative costs by automating common tasks, such
as forms and benefit paperwork.