Portal Bliss

To get an idea of the future of business portals, take a look at what Amazon.com, eBay, Google, and Yahoo are doing.

They have embraced openness and data portability, and they’re letting users choose their own content. Visitors can build personalized Web pages, bringing in data from various sources throughout the Internet. And these companies have opened up their APIs to let others gain access to their content. One result is so-called mash-ups, where a programmer might take traffic information from one consumer site, map data from a different site, and combine it into a new and useful mash-up site for commuters.

Thomas Claburn, Informationweek.com, February 13, 2006

An excellent article highlighting the changing requirements in customer portals. The underlying theme? Personalization within portals is still a difficult concept for many companies to grasp.

I’m not sure why this is the case. Having somewhat of a background in business intelligence apps and user portals in the B2B space, this concept was ingrained into my skull years ago, and yet it remains an issue to be discussed in industry magazines, which, traditionally, are always playing catch up and discussing trends those on the bleeding edge consider old news.

Presenting business users with a Web page filled with personalized and relevant enterprise information still isn’t easy, but more IT systems are being built to talk to one another in a way that respects compliance obligations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act.

Much of the praise goes to the proliferation of service-oriented architectures, built using standards such as XML that make it easier for applications to talk to one another.

Further down in the article, we get to the meat of the issue:

The move to so-called Web 2.0 and the concept of these little miniature applets is starting to cause companies to question the traditional approaches to CRM, ERP, and even data-warehousing apps.

For a businessperson, that means the Web browser will play the main role in information sharing and retrieval.

"What we’re seeing in our practice is that the portal is becoming the virtual desktop," Alairys says. "It’s everything from delivery of everyday content to really providing access to integrated applications. And that’s where the big bang is, being able to allow an end user to create this customized desktop or have it driven by their role."

Amen.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of revealit.io, a blockchain-based video technology company.