A private network used by a single company where only its employees can access it. It often looks like a private version of the Internet and can include a firewall to protect it from malware and other threats. It can also include an extranet for customers, partners and suppliers.

Most intranet offer a variety of tools for collaboration, communication and project management. Some may also allow for personalized content and social media elements to improve employee engagement. These platforms can be accessed using desktop computers, mobile devices or through an internal VPN connection. They can be hosted on-premise or in the cloud, but they generally require a high level of internal IT support and a specialized team to manage them.

While these tools are important, their success is dependent on user engagement rates. Choosing the right channels to use for communications and ensuring that the content that is posted there encourages engagement can be challenging. Instant messaging channels, for example, are great for real-time conversations and informal discussions, but they’re not always the best solution for broader announcements or longer conversations. Video conferencing apps are an alternative but they can be difficult to navigate if you have multiple employees and require them to download and install separate applications.

A large part of the work that happens on an intranet is accomplished by centralized software applications. This includes applications that provide communication, document and information management, along with tools for collaboration and virtual meetings. An intranet can also contain databases that store documents and records, such as a database of all employee usernames or a list of employee contact information.

Some companies also host their own intranets through a web server, but there are a number of cloud-based applications that perform the same functions. These are sometimes called social intranets or employee portals, and they operate similarly to a consumer-focused app with a strong focus on the user experience. In addition to providing a multichannel platform for collaboration, communication and project management, these applications can also incorporate other tools for managing workflows and automating processes.