Are corporate portals a coming wave or just a flash in the pan, the product of an overexcited software salesman's imagination? According to the Delphi Group's Corporate Portal Report, the attention focused on building intranet or enterprise portals this year is well justified.
Delphi surveyed 300 members of the Fortune 500 recently on whether they were investing in a corporate portal, and half of them said they were in the process of building and deploying one. Another 25 percent said they planned to do so over the next two years.
"Corporate Portals reflect a fundamental transformation in our view of enterprise information management, from a series of isolated tasks to the coordinated integration of knowledge," the report concluded.
Corporate portals don't simply offer large volumes of information in one place, the report stated. They attempt to overcome the barriers between sources of information - in databases, legacy applications, on the mainframe - that remained an attribute of client-server computing. Portals attempt a new integration of information on a Web site through the simplifying technologies of the Internet, such as files shared across a HyperText Transfer Protocol network, the search engine and the ability to represent many data types in HyperText Markup Language or eXtensible Markup Language format.
Corporate portals help knowledge workers "cope with the breakdown in the ability to maintain the underlying connections between these information sources - the basis of knowledge," the report said.
"The means for navigating, organizing and linking information with underlying business processes is woefully inadequate in most organizations. It is in this "middle office" space that Corporate Portals promise to have the greatest impact," the report said. By "middle office," it meant a new middle ground between the front-office customer interactions and the back-office financial transaction processing and warehouse distribution.