- Enterprise Service Platforms Are Here to Stay
- From Web Portals to Multi-Constituent, Multi-Channel Portals
- The Next Step in Portal Evolution: Service Platforms
- Enterprise Service Platforms: Making Complexity Manageable
Enterprise Service Platforms: Making Complexity Manageable
Enterprise service platforms are reusable foundations for delivering portal based services. One service platform enables multiple portals to function. Each of these portals reuses common functionality that doesn't have to be reinvented each time. Thus, the goal of service platforms is to streamline business processes by building web-enabled self-service capabilities and eliminating work.
Let's consider an example. The U.S. Air Force has taken the value of service platforms to heart and developed a unified Air Force network strategy. The strategy's objective is to create a service platform that serves all 1.2 million Air Force personnel, consolidates information and applications, and provides users with access to everything. The Air Force's first portal initiative, My.AF, will give users single-point network access to hundreds of information resources and services accessible through a browser, ranging from personnel data to front-line combat intelligence from 28,000 legacy information systems and more than 1,500 Air Force web sites and intranets.
Many labor-intensive support processes are being transferred to the Air Force's self-service portal. One of the first self-service applications was virtual Military Personnel Flight (vMPF), a secure web-based link to each Air Force member's personnel records.
With My.AF, the Air Force is accomplishing two goals:
Making sure that it is extracting value from existing assets and organizational infrastructure
Removing the friction from multi-department processes
The Air Force example illustrates why it makes good business sense to tie the customer to the process rather than to the underlying application. For customer-responsive solutions, it's essential to integrate applications in a transparent manner and shield the customer from internal processes. Firms should manage their various customer-facing services through the concept of composite processes (order-to-cash), not as portfolios of unrelated applications.
Figure 2 illustrates the elements of typical service platform architecture: the portal layer, composite process layer, and integration layer. Service platforms tend to be open platforms built on existing applications and infrastructure that are often proprietary and function-oriented. Over the next few years, we expect to see some jaw-dropping service platform innovations make their way into mainstream business.
Figure 2 Elements of enterprise service platforms.