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Monday, April 02, 2007

Building Enterprise portals – How long is the journey

Portals today has become the de facto UI for adoption of SOA and also for any Web based applications .Over the last few years the usage of portals has undergone a major transformation and the Portal is being viewed by companies today as a basic foundation and infrastructure for resolving business problems, Thereby increasing productivity and increased ROI .

While most of the companies clearly realize the value of creating enterprise portals, one of the Key points that ponder a CXO is the ROI and “True value for Investment”. For 70-80% of the companies Portal journey may not be the first time which means they must have invested in some portal solution small or big in at least a few departments in the organization. The major decision is whether they need to invest on standardizing portal infrastructure and hence achieve common integration between people, processes and technology.

Next comes creating a vision which aligns with immediate business needs and also provides a cushion for further scalability. The technology choice is not a easy decision either with so many open source and big vendors in the market the choice becomes even more difficult, added to this is the changing market positioning of each of these products each quarter .But The key decisive factor while selecting a tool or technology is best done when a good balance with regard to long term strategy with meeting the immediate business goals is taken into consideration. My experience with most of the customers have been that the major influencer with choice of the tool or technology has been the cost factor and vendors relationship with the client.

This long journey also needs to be taken in incremental steps which means Iimplementation of this vision needs to be done in multiple releases, tested, wait for user feedbacks before taking the next leap. A big bang approach may not be the right choice to complete this journey.

Last but not the least , one needs to adopt enterprise portal and create a differential value by building features which makes real business sense and not implement features just because a product provides them or it is the latest trend .one such example is the RIA and SOA that is being widely discussed today .

We need to do a context based, situational, competitive analysis before we can arrive at what can be best implemented for the portal before beginning the journey .Few examples are: customer facing portals, which is front facing for the business and is the key to increase the business, then RIA and SOA can be adopted but if this is for more of content portal then RIA doesn’t make any sense. For a KM portal features like advanced collaboration search, chat etc would definitely be a value addition. However one should definitely create this portal infrastructure keeping the long term strategy in mind


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