In the wake of the astonishing growth in the World-Wide Web, many businesses discovered that the tools of the Internet could be used on private networks and that this offered distinct advantages over other methods of communicating within the company.
-That connections could be made across a company, without having to hire hordes of programmers and developers to create bespoke software, or buying expensive, off-the-shelf applications
-Site location was not a barrier. Network connectivity between sites allows access to centrally kept information.
-That essential changes could be made very quickly - without the recompiling and testing required for "hard-coded" applications
-Such a site could be read by anyone working with any sort of computer (cross-platform)
-That little training was needed
Now, of course, every company already communicates and shares its knowledge, freely and easily.
Do you need an intranet?
Any discussion of this subject keeps coming back to communication and sharing of information - that is what intranets do. So, look at your company as it is now - pre-intranet.
-Do your staff try their hardest to communicate, and to keep colleagues aware of what different departments are doing - but are frustrated by the artificial barriers of software and/or hardware? If so, an intranet may well be very useful to you (and you also have a very good chance of making it work).
-Do your departments keep things to themselves unless someone drags it out of them? Then you need an intranet desperately. But it probably won't do any good - not without a major re-think on everyone's part. The executive charged with implementing an intranet in such a company has been passed a ticking bomb.
-Is your company merging/taking over/being taken over by another company - with a completely different computer/communication system? This is the classic case for an intranet. The web's cross-platform abilities can cut through these incompatibilities in short order. It's still going to be a pig to implement; an intranet can't bridge incompatible mindsets.
-Is your company pottering on quite nicely, but feeling left out of the intranet gang? Stay old-fashioned - if it works, don't fix it. There's no point setting up a relatively complex system for communication, when you can shout across the office. Even if you need to go down some stairs and along a few corridors, the exercise is good for you, and you'll still out-perform any intranet.
It might be useful to question whether you already have a communication system (electronic or physical), which an intranet might improve upon. Not only is that a good indicator that your company is big enough and diverse enough to profit from an intranet, it also gives you a target to reach - can you deliver a system which performs better than the existing one? Additionally, it will give you a framework of content to migrate to the new system. Lastly, it gives you some leverage in your budget - if you can replace a system, you can save its future costs.