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Corporate Portals: The Value To Your Enterprise
The assets considered most valuable in today's corporations are intellectual capital and human resources. Research indicates that companies that reward collaboration and knowledge sharing are outpacing companies that don't encourage those practices or don't have the technology in place to facilitate them.
The overwhelming amount of information distributed around the world in a variety of formats presents a problem for an organization's work force. More and more time is required in order to locate and assess information before acting on business opportunities. Without high-quality and easy-to-use tools, filtering and managing the overwhelming quantity of information has been a nearly impossible task. Leading companies are now embracing corporate portals to better manage knowledge and resources.
A portal is a tool that consolidates information access from a plethora of Internet and intranet sources and company applications to provide one-click access to pertinent information as well as analytical and collaborative tools. The result is a customized, personalized and integrated view of the information necessary to assess and act upon business opportunities.
By 2004, most resources required in the work environment will be accessible via the Internet, and collaboration will occur freely.1 Corporate portals provide the tools and environment for an organization to aggregate and present all the resources its employees need. Some of the applications include e-mail, calendar, document management systems, business intelligence tools, sales force automation applications and news wires.
Key to the success of a corporate portal initiative is enlisting sponsorship from the stakeholders in the organization who will be impacted by the initiative. Some departments have a number of employees who understand the benefit of extending the reach of their systems to a larger base of employees. Enlisting their input and support, as well as that of the IT staff, will help to sell the stakeholders on the benefits of a corporate portal.
Various analysts groups agree that developing an employee (or corporate) portal will accelerate the rate of an organization's decision-making and notification processes while reducing the costs associated with bureaucratic inefficiencies.2
The primary benefits of corporate portals include:
Leverage Existing Investments
A corporate portal can increase the return on investment for systems that have been otherwise too difficult or time-consuming for the vast majority of users to access by bringing together a wide range of business applications into a single experience. Increasing the user base by making existing software investments available to a wider group through a portal will significantly reduce the application cost per user.
By enabling users to choose - with a single click - the services from the applications most relevant to their work, the corporate portal shifts the balance of power between users and applications. Enterprise applications (sales force management systems, ERP systems, document management systems and databases) usually dominate users' desktops, forcing users to adapt to the respective application. In any organization, the user community of these systems is usually a subset of the entire employee base. However, the knowledge base represented in these systems would provide more value to the corporation if they could be extended to a larger segment of the employee population. A good example is human resources (HR). Few people actually have access to HR applications; but the information in the system is of interest to most, if not all, employees. The few people with access to the HR system are responsible for entering and updating information that is constantly changing. Providing employees access to view and update their own information in a secure and personalized format will result in an increase in accuracy to an organization's information base as well as reduced employee overhead costs.
In addition, many employees who travel or work from home do not have necessary applications installed on their computers. By providing access to company applications through a corporate portal, employees will be able to be fully productive at home and while traveling.
Productivity and Flexibility
Users are at the center of a corporate portal experience, choosing components to create an environment customized and personalized to meet their needs. With a complete view of their business in one portal page, users will spend less time switching between and adapting to various applications. Employees will spend less time on the phone with help desks or searching the intranet for information that can be made readily accessible on their personalized portal page. On average, employees spend twenty minutes a day searching repositories and launching applications to complete their work and to stay informed. Bringing together all of the tools and information essential to each employee in a personalized Web page can cut that time in half, saving each employee ten minutes a day. If the average professional employee costs an organization at least $100,000 a year, the portal can generate savings of $2,000 a year per employee.3
IT Cost Reduction
Undisputedly, one of highest costs associated with any application development project is ongoing support and maintenance. With the ever- increasing costs of IT workers in the new digital economy, the expense involved in performing ongoing maintenance to these systems can increase exponentially. IT staffs are often frustrated by the redundant and time- consuming administrative tasks involved in supporting the end-user community. Trying to accomplish this while attending to the other mission-critical IT initiatives is overwhelming and sometimes impossible. To address this issue, the major portal software applications give the end user or line-of-business manger the ability to perform these tasks without the need for IT involvement. Empowering the end users results in reduced IT overhead dedicated to support and allows an organization to dedicate these valuable resources to other critical corporate initiatives.
With IT initiatives, it is often the intangibles that provide the greatest areas of return. Many organizations struggle with the challenge of how to provide comprehensive notification of corporate information. Corporate portals present an easy way to provide up-to- date information. This can facilitate a greater sense of community among employees and provide a strong connection for an organization's remote and disparate employees.
For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
Enterprise Information Portal (EIP) and Enterprise Intelligence.
Jim Maza is the director of SEI's e-Business Practice. Maza provides marketing, business and technical leadership for the practice, builds e-business accounts and superintends project efforts. In addition, Maza oversees strategic partner alliances for the e-business practice in order to ensure that customers' complex business problems are met with apt technology.