Home > Articles

Implementing E-Portals: the Business Issues

  • Print
  • + Share This
In the first of four articles on e-portals, e-business consultant Michelle Johnston looks at the reasons more and more companies are choosing to implement e-portals, and how IT personnel can ensure that such implementations are a success.
Like this article? We recommend

What Is an E-Portal?

An enterprise information portal (e-portal) is a single gateway through which to gain access to all the information, data, systems, and processes used by stakeholders of an organization. Stakeholders of an organization may include employees, customers, investors, or business partners (suppliers, distributors, resellers, agents, franchisees and so on). The user's experience of the e-portal is uniquely tailored to his or her individual needs, and the user can access the e-portal via the corporate intranet (typically employees only), extranets, or the Internet.

Although IT spending is down considerably, spending on e-portal software continues to be relatively high. Here are some of the vital statistics:

  • According to a June 2002 report by IDC, the e-portal software market will reach more than $3.1 billion by 2006, from $550.4 million in 2001.

  • The BEA Weblogic Portal won more than 60 customers in the three-month period ending July 31, 2002, and as a result is now installed at 650 customer sites.

  • Plumtree Corporate Portal is licensed by more than 300 customers for more than 5 million users, and as such is the most widely deployed portal in the industry. At the end of August 2002, Plumtree announced the Plumtree Portal Solution for Employee Services, an online employee-relationship management (ERM) center designed to help organizations deliver content, services, and systems to employees, retirees, and their spouses. However, more recently Third Quarter results announced in October 2002 for Plumtree were not good at all.

    Figure 1Figure 1 The Plumtree ERP solution.

  • According to a recent Giga Information Group Inc. report, employee portals will become a ubiquitous and indispensable element of the employee's daily work experience by 2003. "Companies planning to deploy employee portals should strive to create a compelling site that encompasses a broad range of content and services. Achieving this goal will require leveraging portal technology that enables powerful features such as personalization and content aggregation. Integration with core ERP applications, such as HRMS and financials, is critical," the report says. ("IT Trends 2003: Employee Relationship Management," IdeaByte, Paul Hammerman, 26 Sep 2002, Giga Information Group Inc.)

So why are e-portals so popular?

Benefits of E-Portals

Portals have been shown to provide these benefits:

  • Improved levels of customer interaction with an increase in customer service

  • Improved customer and business partner loyalty

  • Full understanding of new web visitor information

  • Improved employee communications and productivity with enhanced business processes

The following is a list of perceived business benefits achieved by those who have implemented Yahoo!/Tibco Portalbuilder:

  • $9 million single-year return on investment (ROI) at Honeywell

  • 100%+ increase in customer web interactions for health services at CIGNA

  • 100%+ increase in customer web interactions for retirement services at CIGNA

  • 25,000 McDonalds restaurants linked for the first time with locally personalized portals

  • More than 50 unique HR applications unified into single portal access interface at Honeywell

  • 1.3M–3.75M member target audience for self-service economies at CIGNA

  • 30% reduction in travel-related overhead costs at Honeywell

  • Elimination of tens of thousands of intranet sites and associated costs at all firms

Organizations believe that e-portals can enable them to keep ahead of their competition.

By providing stakeholders with more effective and efficient access to business information and enterprise applications, they believe they'll be facilitating improved collaboration and communication, integration of information and applications, increased document flow and workflow, smarter decision-making, and increased productivity. They want ways in which to reduce information overload and improve information quality, while reducing the bottlenecks involved in information creation and quality control.

Some organizations believe they may also gain competitive advantage by enhancing their relationships with key suppliers or by increasing their customer base through customer service improvement. E-portals can be used to trace behavior of customers and suppliers in order to allow for constant service enhancements.

Personalization features of e-portals enable the user to select the information sources in which he or she is most interested, and often the colors and format in which the information is displayed. This often means that users are more likely to return—presumably making the e-portal more effective at achieving its aims.

Ultimately, the aim for business is always increased return on investment. On e-business systems, employing e-portals (whether indirectly or directly) can lead to reduced EDI costs, postal costs, and travel costs to meetings, as well as reduced administration/paper costs. It can also come from reduced error rates (because decisions are made based on more up-to-date information) and reduced staffing costs (because customers can take advantage of self-service features and so on).

The challenge of the e-portal is to reduce information overload by presenting only the information the user requires, preferably at the time when the user requires it.

E-Portal Rationale

Businesses often decide they need an e-portal for one (or both) of two reasons:

  • They already have a number of intranet/extranet sites or other sources of information that need management. Managing these sites means ensuring that the information is correct, up to date, and received in a timely fashion. Reducing the amount of duplication and redundancy throughout the organization is also important.

    Many banks and financial institutions, for example, require their brokers to use information from a number of sources at the same time—tickers with current sell/buy prices, Reuters newsfeeds, calculations from spreadsheet macros, email, messages, and alerts must all arrive in a timely fashion—if not, the consequences could be very costly.

    Organizations that want an e-portal for information management require a solution that's strong on content-management features providing quality control, as well as archiving and versioning of the content. They also need strong enterprise-application integration to enable the creation of content from numerous sources and source types—newsfeeds, databases, XML sources, web pages, email, documents, etc.

  • They already have a data warehouse full of information. In this situation, the business would like to make select data available to different stakeholders, but it's crucial to prevent the data from falling into the wrong hands.

    Sainsburys Supermarkets in the UK, for example, had a large internal data warehouse containing sales, forecasts, and product data in both historical and geographical data sets. It was crucial that their suppliers obtain timely, up-to-date information from these data sets about their own products, but it was equally important that no supplier could access another supplier's data.

    Organizations that want an e-portal to provide external access to the data warehouse require a solution offering strong security and access-control features.

Of course, organizations looking for both sets of features require a solution that provides all these features.

Businesses have realized that only 10% of the data of the organization resides in structured corporate databases: 90% of the data exists in word processing documents, web site files (HTML or XML), newsfeeds/tickers, spreadsheets, email, graphics files, text files, and stand-alone databases on PCs. This information has been largely inaccessible in the past, but e-portals potentially make this data accessible using metadata and XML to integrate structured and unstructured data seamlessly, for easy access around (and beyond) the organization.

E-Portal Software Packages

Businesses want to simplify the development, deployment, and management of enterprise-wide portals. Prebuilt portal applications theoretically reduce the amount of development required to create a portal, reduce the amount of time and effort taken to deploy the portal once it's created, and reduce the overhead of content management, performance management, and so on for production portal systems.

E-portal software vendors are adding support for collaborative services, content management, integrated security services, web services, and so on to their products, which makes them even more attractive.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020