Corporate Portals: Revolutionizing Information Access to Increase Productivity and Drive the Bottom Line


"Customers of AOL don't realize it, but they're using a ""portal"" when they go online. A portal provides a ""home""--a place to get news, stock prices, or whatever else interests you.

A ""corporate portal"" is the same concept--but it's for the employees of a business. It provides them with a single point of entry into all the information their company's systems contain. Through one user-friendly interface, employees can send e-mail, schedule meetings, check inventory, fill out...

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"Customers of AOL don't realize it, but they're using a ""portal"" when they go online. A portal provides a ""home""--a place to get news, stock prices, or whatever else interests you.

A ""corporate portal"" is the same concept--but it's for the employees of a business. It provides them with a single point of entry into all the information their company's systems contain. Through one user-friendly interface, employees can send e-mail, schedule meetings, check inventory, fill out forms, request sales reports--and on and on!

Enterprise portal technology is a breakthrough! Corporate Portals explains what the technology is, supplies an analysis of its tremendous benefits, and explains how to design and propose a corporate portal solution to decision-makers. Benefits include:

• Ability to customize the portal design to individuals' needs

• Powerful search and navigation capabilities, with direct access to reports, analyses, and what-if scenarios across multiple systems and applications

• Knowledge sharing--immediate ability to connect with subject experts and team members, or to post findings and research for anyone who needs it, and more."

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Editorial Reviews

Corporate portal technology offers a vision of nearly universal access to company information for every employee. This guide for information technology professionals provides a detailed picture of the technical and organizational issues involved in creating a corporate portal solution. Main benefits of a corporate portal are defined and explained, and core software functions are overviewed, such as search capabilities, content management, personalization, and security. Collins is a speaker on knowledge management and enterprise information portals. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814405932
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 1/31/2001
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.29 (w) x 9.27 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Heidi Collins (Phoenix, AZ) has more than 20 years of experience as a software developer and is now a leading expert in enterprise portal solutions. She speaks on Knowledge Management and Enterprise Information Portals for organizations throughout the United States.

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Read an Excerpt

1. Welcome to Corporate Portals

The industry is flooded with portal articles, opinions, ideas, and suggested software solutions to select from. It is difficult to determine what the definition of a portal is, what kinds of portal solutions are available, and whether your organization would benefit from a business-to-employee or business-to-business portal application. If your organization needs to share information among employees, locate information that is difficult to find, push information to users, or create a central location to navigate through data that employees can benefit from, then a portal can help. A portal solution is a facilitator to knowledge that helps employees make decisions.

There are several issues and perspectives to consider when looking at how your organization can leverage knowledge for the purpose of making better, faster, consistent, and more informed decisions. The perspectives are operational and strategic. Operational issues are the ones faced by employees responsible for completing transactional, day-to-day, and well-established tasks. Employees responsible for operational issues in your organization are constantly looking for ways to improve or simplify existing processes or tasks. Strategic issues are the ones faced by employees responsible for ensuring that the overall mission of your organization is met or exceeded. Employees responsible for making strategic decisions in your organization are tracking financial and other information that accurately measures how well your organization is performing. This group of employees is always looking for the appropriate objectives that can be combined with qualitative measures to respond accuratelyto your customers. The information presented to strategic decision makers is used to monitor and analyze the performance of your organization so that, when necessary, appropriate modifications can be made for your organization to remain effective in the marketplace. The primary objective for a portal software solution, then, is to create a working environment that users can easily navigate in order to find the information they specifically need to quickly perform their operational or strategic functions and make decisions.

Any knowledge mining, filtering, and management strategy that you establish must focus primarily on the mission of your organization and the operational or strategic requirements of your employees. One information technology (IT) strategy to strongly consider is an enterprise or corporate portal solution. The portal solution is a collection of technologies-software and infrastructure-that work together to aggregate a selected subset of information into a central location. From there, different employees can then easily access information that's relevant to their roles or business and personal requirements and in the process work more effectively with each other.

A corporate portal is usually structured around roles that are found inside your organization. An enterprise portal, by comparison, expands the corporate portal to include customers, vendors, and other roles outside your organization. The focus of this book is on the corporate portal. Though the issues and concepts discussed here can be expanded to the enterprise as well, the architecture and infrastructure of the enterprise portal is different and more complex than those defined for a corporate portal solution.

One of your first tasks to complete when considering a portal strategy is to establish a portal definition for your organization. You want to establish a standard definition along with a collection of portal objectives specific to your organization. You can then use this definition and list of objectives to evaluate the flood of jargon and software features available from portal vendors and other sources to find the best portal solution available for you and your organization.

The Business Problem

During the past several years nearly every new application and idea created by the software industry has made the jobs of employees more complex and difficult, rather than simplifying their responsibilities for them. This situation creates problems for employees making operational and strategic decisions. All employees have to access several applications to do their jobs. For example, to complete operational and transactional activities an employee has to check inventory status of a particular part and enter a purchase order. To simply complete the assigned responsibilities, your employee needs to open an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and navigate through numerous screens. The ERP system allows the employee to review inventory and backlog information. A second application or system is launched to enter the purchase order. Any problems or issues that are encountered will require access to customer information that is housed in the customer resource management (CRM) system.

Employees responsible for strategic decisions have even more difficulty trying to do their jobs effectively. In many cases the data sources, systems, and applications located throughout your organization need to be combined to present the summarized information or desired report format that executives expect to review. Your IT department likely has several initiatives and activities associated with taking the information available from transactional systems and converting it to a format needed to maintain an enterprise information system (EIS) or decision support system (DSS), or the systems that provide the summarized information this group of employees needs to make strategic decisions. To find an answer to a question, make a decision, or take some action, employees spend an enormous amount of time traversing the maze of these disconnected applications and systems.

This is only part of the problem. Corporatewide systems are complex and designed for a specific purpose and function, so your IT department is required to deploy many different and often unrelated applications and modules to fill the information and processing needs of the entire organization. In addition, an incredible amount of training time is needed for an employee to learn how to effectively use such a complex suite of applications and all of the processes and steps involved to complete their assigned responsibilities. Only a small fraction of your organization's employees know how to use all of the functions of one system, much less all of the systems and databases that affect their job.

Corporate Intranets as a Partial Solution

The corporate intranet was originally designed and implemented to meet this need for shared information across the organization. Using the corporate intranet, employees are able to access corporate information using a web browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Communicator to find forms, open applications to perform their jobs, and review a customer's project status, and for many other activities. The corporate intranet solution provides navigation to different enterprise systems and documents.

Corporate intranets everywhere are responsible for hosting a multitude of applications and an exponential growing number of documents. These applications, documents, related tools, and enterprise systems need to be made readily available for employees to use. This is a difficult task for IT departments, and it has created information access, knowledge-sharing, and security problems. As intranet sites grow larger, a new set of problems has been created. Various studies have researched the problems and issues currently facing corporate intranets and why they are in chaos...

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Table of Contents

"1. Welcome to Corporate Portals

2. Corporate Portal Definitions and Features

3. The Importance of a Corporate Portal Business Case

4. A Consistent View of Your Organization

5. Information Organization and Search Capabilities

6. Direct Access to Corporate Knowledge and Resources

7. Direct Access to Reports, Analysis, and Queries

8. Direct Links to Relative Data and Knowledge Experts

9. Individual Identity and Personalized Access to Content

10. Implementing the Corporate Portal Strategy

11. Information Technology Analysis

12. Business Process and Information Needs Analysis

13. Corporate Portal Storyboard

14. Financial Metrics Analysis

15. Project Plan and Timeline"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2002

    Very thorough!

    The book began with a very good overview of Corporate Portals and answered a lot of my questions. It also provided insight into the many other areas that will need to be considered for a portal to be a success. IT professionals will clearly see the benefits of a portal through the books' detailed explanations, case study and documented research.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2002

    Practical way to get started with Portals

    Corporate Portals provides you with a clear, practical, and detailed picture of all the technical and organizational issues involved in creating a corporate portal solution. Collins defines and clarifies the main benefits on a corporate portal and then explores each in depth, including: - Better decision-making capabilities through access to aggregated information residing in many different systems and physical locations - A consistent view of your organization that allows employees to easily find information through a single, user-friendly interface - Sophisticated information organization and search capabilities - Direct access to corporate knowledge and resources - Direct links to reports, analyses, queries, relative data, and knowledge experts. This is exactly what I needed to begin planning my intranet upgrade to a portal solution.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2002

    Don't judge the book by the cover!

    I read the first 4 chapters, find the book to be ridiculously repetitious and it appeared to me that the author¿s message was constantly and repeatedly ¿Corporate Portals are Good for You!¿. It is generally an acceptable concept that people who buy a book are already of the belief that the subject matter is either good, or good for them and are sold on the concept looking for supporting facts, strategies, tactics and implementation methods based on the authors expertise. Although this is not a negative review for Heidi¿s knowledge and ability in the field but it is definitely a very poor review of her writing style for a technical book. I abandoned reading the book after the first four chapters and put my time to better use.

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