Knowledge Base vs. Intranet: What’s the Difference?

8 min read
Jump to section

    Knowledge is power. It enables employees in all positions to efficiently and accurately complete tasks and perform at top levels. Yet productivity declines and errors occur when employees spend hours each day searching for the information required to complete routine tasks. 

    A centralized hub of company information can be the answer to providing employees with critical information. However, finding the right information database for your business can be challenging. For most companies, choosing the right knowledge management system comes down to a choice of a knowledge base vs. intranet. 

    If you’re seeking a way to unlock your employees’ greatest potential with easily accessible information, it can help you to learn more about these solutions and how they work.

    What Is an Intranet?

    An intranet is a private network within an enterprise used to share company information and resources among employees securely. It is only accessible to people within the company and typically includes central communication methods and resources to help employees communicate with teammates and better perform their roles. 

    Most intranets act as a hub that links to other software and sites employees use frequently. It’s common for intranets to also include company announcements, localized files, messaging systems, and how-to articles.

    What Content Is Shared on an Intranet?

    The primary purpose of a company intranet is to help employees share information and collaborate efficiently. It can also help the company manage digital content employees use to perform routine tasks. 

    As an internal website that supports employees, an intranet can include everything from sales materials to HR information and resources about specific tasks. These are some of the most common resources on a company’s intranet:

    • FAQs about how to complete certain tasks or access specific resources
    • Organizational charts that define company objectives
    • Assignments for specific positions or teams
    • Employee profiles that can be accessed with a secure password
    • Discussion forums to help employees share information and collaborate on projects

    Pros and Cons of Intranet

    Pros

    • An intranet acts as a centralized hub for all support materials. It gives employees a specific place to go for answers in situations that would otherwise require seeking help or taking an educated guess. With the right information, employees can complete tasks with minimal oversight.
    • Files and information can be easily stored within the database. With features that allow employees or upper management to upload files and include links, file storage is simple. Employees from different departments can share information through file uploads and sharing.
    • An intranet can help companies quickly disperse knowledge and important information. From announcements to company policies or FAQs, a company intranet can act as employee ‘help pages’ to provide varied information in a convenient location. It allows employees to access information when and where they need it.
    • Employees can improve collaboration efforts with a unified communication system. This helps employees share and access information conveniently–and cuts down on time-sapping meetings and emails..

    Cons

    • Information can be difficult to find. Intranets have been around for decades and often depend on outdated software. As a result, they rarely have a strong search engine. Employees can waste time searching the company’s intranet for relevant information.
    • The system might not be user-friendly. Legacy systems tend to offer easy uploading capabilities and significant storage capacity. However, searchability and convenience can be limited. A difficult system often results in low user adoption, meaning the company intranet can go completely ignored. 
    • Renewing and updating information is often complex. Outdated information can be more dangerous than no information at all. Inaccurate data leads to mistakes, conflicts, and even non-compliance.
    • An IT team is typically required for maintenance. Information within an intranet generally must be tagged to provide context. To keep the company intranet updated with new information and current regulations, an IT team will often need to assist.

    What Is a Knowledge Base?

    A knowledge base is a cloud-based knowledge management platform that provides a central searchable place for company information. Modern knowledge base software collects, organizes, retrieves, and shares company knowledge. A platform like Bloomfire can also support many file types while transcribing video and audio files, making everything searchable.

    Most company knowledge bases provide internal information for employees, and some may also include an external knowledge hub for customers. A knowledge base acts as a one-stop shop where employees can find insights and information on demand to do their best work no matter when, where, or how they’re working.

    What Content Is Shared in a Knowledge Base?

    The purpose of a knowledge base is to empower team members with accessibility to the knowledge that already exists within your company. It can also improve collaboration through the simplified sharing of information, insights, and data. A knowledge base facilitates efficient business operations with support materials and how-to guides. 

    It also provides resource materials and instructions. Since it has a searchable database, a knowledge base can store many types of information and maintain easy accessibility. These are some common examples of content that exists on knowledge bases:

    • Policies that reflect regulation, industry, or company changes
    • Processes to complete certain tasks or standard operating procedures
    • Answers to customer questions that can be used internally for customer service or externally for customer self-service
    • Market research and customer insights that are easily updated to provide relevant information about product innovation and customer or consumer trends
    • How-to guides and video tutorials that can be easily included in the search engine through transcription that categorizes spoken words

    Pros and Cons of a Knowledge Base

    • A knowledge base is a highly flexible database with a powerful search engine. Bloomfire’s AI-powered search deep-indexes every word in every file and even transcribes words spoken in video and audio files. For added convenience and faster results, searches are sorted by relevance and offer previews of the content before the user clicks on a post. As a result, a wealth of different types of information can easily be stored and accessed efficiently. 
    • Users can get the information they need on demand. Individuals forget about 50% of information within one hour of hearing it, which makes knowledge retention a poor method for accurate work performance. A knowledge base centralizes all information so employees can access the data they need when and where they need it. 
    • Easily accessible resources improve customer service. Customers expect fast, effective, high-quality service. Yet, customer service can be a job riddled with complications and precise issues. An internal knowledge base allows support agents to retrieve information and solutions quickly to provide fast and accurate customer service. 
    • Customers can find the information they need without interacting with a service rep. Customers want their questions answered, their problems solved quickly, and they’re happy to find answers independently. In fact, 67% of consumers prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative. When the external (customer-facing) side of your knowledge base includes critical information like FAQs and product information, potential customers can find the information they need without taking the time or effort to contact customer service.

    Cons

    • Ongoing input is needed to maintain effectiveness. Knowledge changes and evolves, meaning a knowledge base is not a set it and forget it solution. For successful knowledge management implementation, subject matter experts must be willing to create and edit content as needed for the information stored within a knowledge base to be accurate. However, a knowledge base is easily revised and maintained with routine updates.
    • Knowledge must be routinely updated. Unfortunately, updating can sometimes result in old information being left behind, offering two different sources of truth. This is where searching for specific knowledge base features comes in handy. For example, Bloomfire’s knowledge base includes automatic scheduling/unpublishing and visual indications of current content to help you keep information up to date.
    • Role permissions may be necessary to ensure the quality of content. Knowledge bases give end users more freedom to create content, which is not bad since it organically grows the company’s library of knowledge. However, it might require the company to put moderation in place to ensure only accurate and relevant information is included. If you anticipate that your organization will need this level of oversight, look for a knowledge base that allows you to set different permission levels, such as read-only, content author, moderator, and admin.

    While an intranet and a knowledge base both act as a hub to provide employees with internal company knowledge, they work differently to achieve that goal. An intranet is a predominantly static platform that employees can access for specific types of company information. However, in this traditional type of a system, employees may have a difficult time finding what they’re looking for unless they know the title/tags the information is filed under. On the other hand, a knowledge base like Bloomfire has flexibility that allows you to organize content in a way that makes sense to your users. It is designed with searchability in mind and is easier to update because it doesn’t require ongoing IT maintenance.  

    Centralized knowledge for every team

    Collect, connect, and democratize knowledge and insights

    Get a Demo!
    How to Avoid Employee Burnout
    How to Avoid Employee Burnout 
    steps to change management
    How to Implement Change Management Effectively
    Advantages of AI in Knowledge Management for Enterprises
    Request a Demo

    Start working smarter with Bloomfire

    See how Bloomfire helps companies find information, create insights, and maximize value of their most important knowledge.

    Schedule a Meeting
    Take a self guided Tour

    Take a self guided Tour

    See Bloomfire in action across several potential configurations. Imagine the potential of your team when they stop searching and start finding critical knowledge.

    Take a Test Drive