Inside Line

Doing It All

With the Intranet, businesses are moving one step closer to the long-awaited paperless office. The Intranet allows companies to publish all kinds of internal corporate documents--human resources manuals, newsletters, annual reports, maps, company phone lists or locations, price lists and product information--where it is easily accessible by all employees at any time.

Intranets can provide powerful search engines that enable employees to easily find answers to questions that arise in the normal course of doing business. For instance, you could post a list of common customer questions and answers on the Intranet so your customer service representatives could quickly access it while talking to customers.

Intranet applications can also handle functions similar to groupware applications. For instance, you can post electronic sign-up sheets, surveys or simple schedules.

More sophisticated practices include using the Intranet to link employees to your company databases to let them access a wide range of data, such as sales projections and internal discounts. You can also use the Intranet to distribute software. For these types of applications, you would need to contract with a systems integrator to custom design a program using a tool such as Oracle's PowerBrowser or PowerBuilder from the Powersoft Business Group of Cybase.

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This article was originally published in the October 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Inside Line.

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