BackWeb pushes proactive portals

Aiming to make corporate portals more effective, BackWeb Technologies Ltd. this week rolled out an updated version of its technology designed to provide offline access to portal content.

Version 2.0 of its ProactivePortal Server uses an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) tagging language developed by BackWeb to integrate into any vendor's portal framework at the presentation layer and deliver portal content offline, according to Eli Barkat, chief executive officer of BackWeb, in San Jose, California.

"Our portal server uses tags to figure out how to process a page, then builds a package of info you need, rebuilds the links from online to offline, and then does scalable delivery by only delivering the changes," said Barkat.

The offline view of the portal is designed to look identical to the online experience, he added.

Version 2.0 also features the ability to support any portal framework, personalized subscription functions that let users fine-tune offline information, and content delivery technology that can push large chunks of data through slow network connections.

The combination of offline access to portal information and notifications that can alert users to critical portal updates can help maximize portal ROI (return on investment), said Barkat.

"Making info passively available in the portal is not enough to drive ROI," he said. "We don't build portals, but we make them work better by maxing the usage to drive the adoption and ROI you need."

Owens-Illinois, a large manufacturer of glass and plastics packaging products, is deploying BackWeb ProactivePortal alongside an SAP portal framework in an effort to improve communications across its 140 worldwide manufacturing plant and sales office locations.

The addition of ProactivePortal Server is essential to let online and offline remote workers have the same access to critical information, according to Earl Newsome, chief information officer of Owens-Illinois, in Toledo, Ohio.

Moreover, the BackWeb capability to push portal content to users via notifications will help further Owens-Illinois' effort to improve performance metrics throughout its organization, Newsome said.

"When we started to move toward a worldwide [metrics] strategy, we found [proactive notifications] very effective to make sure actions are implemented at plants and sales offices," said Newsome. "[The] global view of metrics through the portal enabled a push architecture that makes sure information gets to the right people in time."

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