For many of us, portals like Yahoo, MSN and Excite are our first introductions to the Internet. These sites aggregate information from across the Internet and present it in a unified, personalisable window to us. Similarly, within organizations, corporate portals (or enterprise information portals) can be used to provide information, applications and services to employees. It creates a single Web destination to give everyone in the company a complete view of the business. Writes Mark Gibbs of Network World:
Perhaps the best way to think of a corporate business-to-employee portal is as a dynamic corporate knowledge aggregation platform that encompasses data mining, application integration, automated searching and metasearching, and workflowSo, what are corporations using business-to-employee solutions for? According to a survey by The Delphi Group of 300 Fortune 500 companies, corporate portals are a mechanism to share information and work methods (21.2%), an internal self-service desktop (20.6%), a vehicle for local subject-matter experts (19.6%), a way to reduce “infoglut” (18.6%) and a professional function-centered desktop (16.2%).
An excerpt from the Delphi Report:
Corporate Portals reflect a fundamental transformation in our view of enterprise information management from a series of isolated tasks, to the coordinated integration of knowledge. The incredible influx of readily accessible, yet completely disconnected, sources and streams of information has made it clear that the means for navigating, organizing, and linking information with underlying business processes is woefully inadequate in most organisations. It is in this “middle office” space that Corporate Portals promise to have the greatest impact.
The Corporate Portal would provide every employee with a personalized home page so that it only shows the information and services most relevant to the employee’s responsibilities. All the organisation’s information would be maintained in a knowledge database. The components of such a database could be a mix of internal and external content – from the customer, supplier and partner information to a mix of news, stock quotes, industry updates and shopping deals. In fact, by aggregating the buying power of its employees, a corporate can also help generate savings for all of them. Going ahead, employees will have real-time access to information through multiple devices and alerts.
Corporate Portals also become the cornerstone around which teams (communities) of employees can be created by offering collaboration tools like shared calendar, bulletin boards, project management, threaded conversations and document sharing.
In the words of Vivek Ranadive (in his book The Power of Now), corporate portals “make it easier to bring the Internet into your business and to move your business out over the Internet.”