Portal Popularity Gains Pace

A survey of 157 large Australian companies shows that they believe the value of enterprise portals, like charity, begins at home.

The research found that 35 per cent of organisations with more than 1,000 employees were poised to complete an enterprise portal project this year. Of those, nearly three in four are looking to connect with their employees first, with customers and other businesses ranking lower in priority.

Carried out for portal development company Corechange early last quarter, the survey was focused primarily on companies in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Not surprisingly, the results were given a positive spin by Corechange's Asia-Pacific business development manager, Gari Johnson. They revealed an "extraordinarily high level of activity" in portal development work among Australian organisation, Johnson said.

Most of the current projects are due for completion in the June to September time frame. Fully 73 per cent supported business-to-employee functions with 54 per cent supporting business-to-business operations. About one-third of respondents reported their portals would do both. A minuscule 9 per cent of the nascent portals were aimed at the business-to-consumer space.

The popularity of B2E portals is rising because corporate intranets have hit the wall, Johnson claimed. More than a private website or search engine, B2E portals are being pitched to business as their employees' personalised window to all relevant information systems. That includes mission-critical applications, legacy systems, email and personal productivity tools.

"Organisations are interested in revenue streams but first they want to streamline efficiencies inside their own companies, then they will extend that to customers," Johnson said.

The survey found that "single sign-on" (the ability to access all information systems with only one logon) was the most common benefit nominated by corporate portal builders. Seventy-eight per cent of those engaged in portal projects rated that as an important goal. Ranked equally below that were portals' promise of a single access framework for all e-business activities and a view of legacy applications and mainframe-based data.

Not surprisingly, very large organisations of 25,000 employees or more were unanimous in selecting legacy integration as vital. But 100 per cent of them also ticked the ability of portals to support wireless and mobile access as crucial.

Corechange is bucking the trend of US-based web solutions companies folding up their Australian tents. A privately owned Boston company which produces out-of-the-box infrastructure software for portals, Corechange is expanding its operations here.

It opened a Sydney office late last year as its Asia-Pacific base and has 10 employees in the region with about 200 worldwide.

Courtesy The Australian Industry Standard: http://www.thestandard.com.au

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