Organizational Benefits of Implementing an Intranet
By definition Intranet is an environment, which implements Internet Applications like HTTP, WWW, Email, FTP etc. over a LAN, whereas the term LAN doesnt necessarily limit the geographical bounds in this case.
In large organizations it is good to have an intranet.
The observed advantages of such implementation are as follows: -
How much easy it is for any one to connect to Internet and start using it, if you can consider, then you should know that once you connect to Internet you become part of it, and the Internet is scaled by one more user which is you. The same applies to the Intranet as well. It is really easy to scale such environment as not much configuration is needed to be done on the client thus the client joining time to Intranet is comparatively much more lesser than to the Internet.
Another thing, which is counted under the same heading, is the fact that there are virtually no limits to the number of users who can connect to an Intranet simultaneously and its easy too just connect to the LAN and you are also connected to the Intranet.
The term Efficiency is replaced with easiness representing how easy it is to scale Intranets as per organizational requirements.
Rapid Development of New Services
If there is any thing mature in IT its the Internet, the Internet services have really matured because of the time they have been used for and the excessive amount in which they are used catering for almost every ones requirements. The development tools required to develop such services have also matured the same by time, because the services employed by Internet are simple in nature i.e. they are not as powerful as desktop based applications so the tools used to create such applications allows you to develop them Rapidly.
As we know that the Intranet adopts almost the same services provided by the Internet thus the same development tools are used here, however, Intranet applications vary from Simple Internet like applications to Complex Desktop Like applications (this is because of the security, speed, and processing power available on Intranets), but they are developed almost the same way, so the Complex Application development time will also be reduced a lot.
Most of the services an organization might need are already available with known maturity they only need to be configured for specific organizational environment and policies that also cut downs considerable development time.
Little Training Needed by Development Staff or Users
With a wild assumption, almost every one knows how to user Internet and has a good grasp of its facilities and limitations, and because Intranets are Internet like implementations there is no need to train staff if general services are used.
A little training is needed if the services are highly customized to organizational requirements and that training will only be about how to use the software not about how to use the Intranet overall.
From the developers perspective, developing web sites for Intranets and also other wise has always been the simplest of tasks in Computer Programming, considering the fact that not much can be done when using an Intranet in contrast to real Desktop based applications, the web sites (also, other Intranet services) are really confined to what is provided by the User Agents using which the clients will access the services and the servers which will host those services.
As mentioned above that most of the services are pre made and are bought off-the-shelf and the developments platforms are WYSIWYG and supports high quality Rapid Application Development, little training is needed for the developers as most of the plumbing work is managed by the development tools themselves.
Implement-able On All Platforms Interoperability
If you can recall the history of Internet, you should know that problem of open system interconnection rose in the initial stages of Internet and was well resolved. Just to remind that the problem was not only have a standard protocol (TCP/IP) but some other interoperability issues like displaying of web pages (CSS) on different platforms were also resolved for good.
The organizations implementing Intranets also share the same advantage of Internet when developing Intranet applications or customizing services the need to accommodate various platforms is obviated, as there is no real need to cater for multi-platform environments because it is the client side, which adopts different platform, and no real processing is done on client side thus the servers are responsible for the major processing and a server cannot run multiple Operating Systems simultaneously.
Supports a Range of Architectures
The versatility of Internet resulted in making of different development architectures as well as supporting architecture (the Hardware).
As far as the development strategies are concerned, an Internet applications development can follow from simple Jump Start methodology to the Complex RAD models, also there is no restriction on using various abstraction techniques as well e.g. Object Oriented, Functional, Data etc.
The same is borne by Intranet environments because of their striking similarity with Internet. Complex data based applications require the use of complex analytical and design techniques, the Intranet environments coherently are able to cop up with all of them.
Almost every hardware platform, which is able to allow remote connections or network connectivity in other words, is able to run Intranet based applications with ease. Also, Intranet Applications as compared to other applications consume comparatively less resources. So no special hardware needs arises for pure Intranet Applications.
Supports Integration of Legacy Systems
Legacy (conventional, old, previous) systems such an existing MIS of the organization or some other automation system, after the implementation of an Intranet are easily able to integrate with Intranet without much of the effort.
In normal integration process the Intranet application only needs to connect to the MIS database and extract out data for its users, which by any means is not difficult and time consuming task to perform in Intranet development as compared to in desktop based development. This comes to as a major advantage and organizations do not need to re-engineer or throw away their existing systems but rather can easily use them in conjunction with the Intranets.
As Intranets supports almost every type of platform no matter how old a technology it is, legacy applications can be integrated with them easily.
Supports a Range of Media Types
Internet initially supported Hyper Text, then the trend changed to Hyper Media and now multimedia. Because of such wide use its only the Internet, which supports the widest variety of media used to deliver information to users. And so the same is inherited to Intranets, it can also support multitude of media available i.e. the Graphics (VRML, LISP etc.), Images (JPG, GIF, TIFF, JPE, PNG, etc.), Animation (Flash, Shockwave, Director, VRML etc.), Video (MPG, MPEG, AVI, etc.), Audio (WAV, RA, RAM, MP3, etc.).
The implementation and development costs of Intranet applications are less as compared to other application types this is because most of the services are available readymade and can be bought easily, such applications are highly customizable and are able to meet most of the users requirements.
The development time to such applications is comparatively lesser. Which also results in the reduction of the development costs many folds.
Most important financial aspect of Intranets is that they require very less maintenance and thus are cheaper to run than any other system. Intranet systems consume operational costs lesser than Internet systems.
Basis for Extranet Model, (incorporating key suppliers)
Extranet by definition is Another Intranet of some other organization connected to your Intranet. Once you implement an Intranet within your organization you can easily allow others to access it and vice versa.
Consider the ease of placing an order, by simply opening the Intranet application, filling in details, submitting the information by click of a button and all the information is transferred to the Suppliers Intranet (database) in a jiffy. Not only you can place orders like that you can also check to see, Is your required stock available? From the suppliers database directly (i.e. if the supplier has allowed you to). Once the order is processed the Invoice and Delivery Notes can also be automatically transferred to your Intranet and be shifted to accounts for processing after approval.
This all is only possible if both the parties are connected to each other using extranet model. The Internet could also provide you the same facility but there will be two implications involved:
1. It wont be as real-time as on Intranet.
2. The sense of privacy and ownership will be lost.
Basis for E-Commerce Opportunities
The previous point debates strongly on the implementation of B2B E-commerce, once such infrastructure comes in existence it is easy to provide B2C and other types of E-Commerce facilities to customers etc.
The ease of shifting to E-commerce can be understood by scrutinizing the fact that the initiative of implementing an Intranet provides you the basis of Internet like infrastructure the protocols the services and more importantly the specialized hardware which you might need will already be running in your organization thus it will be less costly, efficient, and almost timeless effort to shift to E-commerce from the existing Intranet bone.
To conclude this discussion, implementation of Intranet not only gives your organization E-look but also separates you out from those who have implemented traditional information systems, which are normally not network intensive.
Being network intensive is important in a sense that it will be basis of your communication, higher and faster the communication better the product will be. Intranet systems are easy to implement, portable, and consume lesser operational costs and are beneficial for the organizations in the long run.