Member Views

Opinions of UniForum Members

Intranets Are Happening

Recently we asked our readers if their organizations have built or are planning an intranet. We received so many responses that we'll publish selections from them in two installments. This month we hear from those who have full-fledged intranets in use; in October, from those who are only beginning or are skeptical.

What do you mean by intranet? We have been on bitnet, then nsfnet, now Internet since time immemorial. We don't have firewalls or other devices to keep people out (though some services are available only from machines from the 128.200 subnet).

Meinhard E. Mayer
Irvine, CA

We had an intranet for years before the term became popular. It's just been in the past couple of years that we connected it to the Internet. It is meeting our expectations. We are starting to look at proxies for common services such as news readers.

Dave Messent
Adelphi, MD

We have an intranet, but we're not on the Internet yet. It solves many of our organization's problems. We have [put up] policies and procedures, pricing and other information about our products, case studies and even jokes. Our Internet presence will evolve out of this experience.

Gustavo Betancourt
Bogota, Colombia

Our intranet is mostly public. Is it still an intranet? Tasks that would have been left undone are being done on the Web. Systems that would have used FTP archives or Gopher burrows now appear on the Web instead, but FTP doesn't go away. My expectations keep expanding.

Dick Karpinski
San Francisco, CA

We have a vast intranet, and it is the main information network for our sales, marketing and finance people. We have implemented a data warehouse application, which operates over the intranet and allows drilling down for financial information (primarily sales performance reports for the quarter).

Dave Lee
Mountain View, CA

Our intranet facilitates the growing distribution of information within the company in an expeditious manner; most internal memos now reference internal Web sites. One of the early side-effects was not being able to search for information. However, that was solved using the AltaVista search engine internally. The downside has been some stale links; the site needs to be kept fresh.

Gil Chinn
Santa Clara, CA

We have been using an intranet for about 18 months as a method of transferring technical information from our technology centers (R&D, technical support and marketing) to our field operations. We also use it as a general-purpose information dissemination tool. The application of this technology and the interest in it continue to grow; we have replaced expensive and slow production printing and shipping processes. Systems such as mainframe-based e-mail bulletin boards and mailboxes will be replaced as well.

Jim Landmark
Houston, TX

We have an intranet that supplements the existing ccMail/Notes capabilities for distributed systems and replaces much of the existing functionalities in our mainframe Profs [mail] system. Almost everyone has had this capability for over a year, and it is a critical part of our internal communications. The implementation has been successful and well-received.

Mark Harrison
Houston, TX

We have been using an intranet for several years for internal communications; storage of sales, marketing and training materials for headquarters and remote office access; and as a repository for engineering documents and software. Our intranet has replaced paper-based or straight NFS file system-based document sharing. Our goal has been to have an easy-to-access (especially remotely), standard way to store and share documents and information throughout the company--particularly documents that need to stay current. It has served that purpose reasonably well so far. We would like to expand the content and types of information on our intranet over time.

Paul Henderson
Cambridge, MA

We've had an intranet for about three years. It hasn't replaced any systems but has given more widespread access to our systems. For example, we've recently put in a Web-based front end for our call tracking system. This gave over 1,200 users direct access to the system, which is about 12 times the previous number, without installing a single new app on the desktop.

Steve Litras
San Rafael, CA

We have an elaborate intranet, which has been in place since last year. It is organized by department on the home page and contains everything from product and staff descriptions to product schedules and handbooks, from company procedures to the weekly cafeteria menu. Our department has added in-house position training pages; I created the pages for the product I support.

Gene Kostruba
Sunnyvale, CA

Our intranet has not replaced any system except interoffice memos. It is currently difficult for off-site employees to get access from our "closed system," and it is difficult to remember where info is kept. Like external Internet pages, finding information isn't always quick. Many people stop by my office for a faster answer. Also, searches are limited, and we would like a visual aid to get to info without [waiting for] slow graphics.

Micki Jo Ashley
Mountain View, CA

We've had an intranet for over two years that replaced the mainframe. Our expectations are simple: a way to organize an office without making it impossible to communicate. The current situation is meeting our expectations and more.

Chris Squatritto
Las Vegas, NV

I believe that the intranet is a "hypeware" concept; however, my company does have a separate Web server for internal users. It contains our employee handbook, directory and other general information. This is to be expanded to include an interface to an expert system for our tech support personnel. Using hypertext links, the folks on the phone will be able to quickly access database information.

Tommy Ward
Mountain View, CA

Our intranet has replaced a Mac-based information server and provides marketing information to the field. We expected it to become the primary mechanism for quickly getting info to the field. It is fulfilling the expectation, although it is still easier for a sales rep to call someone and ask, even if the information is available online.

S. Rajeev
San Jose, CA

Our intranet has received relatively little use. We are using it for access to online manuals for in-house software libraries, conferencing tools, requests for services by other departments and general information. Unfortunately, the only departments to deploy anything on the intranet are in engineering.

Scott Pyatt
San Jose, CA

We have an intranet that is replacing several corporate-wide information repositories. Everything is available: transportation schedules, open jobs, stock prices, employee phonebook, company history, current marketing ads, company screen savers and wallpaper, gripes and rumors. Its appearance is exceeding my expectations, but the amount of set-up time and inconsistent publication are below my expectations.

Angela Barr
Concord, CA

We're a relatively new company, so we put our intranet in place early on. It serves as a reference point to get admin forms and report Q&A questions. It is difficult to maintain and keep up to date from an administrative viewpoint.

Julia Frink
San Francisco, CA

We had an intranet before the word was invented. It is slowly replacing or augmenting current mainframe applications. It is mainly being used as a medium for distributing information from different groups within the company and corporate information. Locally, we are using it for creating productivity tools that are platform-independent. It is meeting my expectations and appears to be embraced by the company.

Mark Schutt
Chico, CA

Our intranet is used mainly for e-mail and Web services. It replaced a manual system of paper files and/or phone calls to internal support personnel. So far it has been mildly successful, but many employees still reach for the phone before checking the Web page. We hope to use Web servers and browsers to replace the remaining character-based applications and terminals.

Phil Stewart
Sacramento, CA

Our intranet has replaced much of the hard copies of minutes of committee meetings and corporate policies and procedures. Other applications will be coming on stream soon. I expected easier and quicker access to corporate information. The information also is displayed in a more interesting manner. It has more than met my expectations.

Ken Woo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The intent for our intranet was to create a central repository or electronic library that has consistency and saves time, paper and labor expenses, while enhancing intracompany communication. It is exceeding our expectations in that it was easier and less expensive to set up, install and configure than most thought it would be. We plan to enhance it further.

Chris Howard
Portland, OR

We have had an intranet for about a year. In effect, it has replaced tons of paper floating around the office and has far exceeded our expectations. Overall productivity has increased, because we don't have to search files or stacks of paper to find information; everything is available within seconds with a couple of clicks. Almost everyone keeps the browser running all of the time.

Greg Harris
Roseville, CA

Our intranet has replaced public functions like phone directory, paging systems and software distribution. It is meeting expectations very well. Ease of distribution (just get a Web browser) has made the cross-platform issue moot.

Richard Calosso
San Ramon, CA

My company's intranet is replacing some general information distribution and support systems. It may replace other systems in the future and/or introduce new services that are not available. It's a good start, but I don't think that our intranet has met its potential yet. I expect an intranet to provide a common interface to in-house applications; make it easy to find required information; reduce overhead and irrelevant information; be used for interaction with customers; and be interactive and dynamic.

Ihab Abeulenein
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia