Businesses warned: Be ready for digital natives

Gartner has said businesses will need to cater to the demands of the new generation of office workers for online Web 2.0 portals

Businesses must look at how they can use online portals to get the most out of established and emerging Web 2.0 services.

Portals are homepages which users can tailor to hold a host of different applications — or "portlets" — which can then be accessed through the page.

Speaking at Gartner's ITxpo in Cannes, Gartner analyst Gene Phifer said demand for these services in business will increase as the new generation of workers — or "digital natives" — come into the workplace.

Phifer said: "Digital natives and digital immigrants think very differently. You need to understand the desire, the needs, the attributes of the digital natives. The [personalised portal] is going to become a much bigger thing in our lives."

Phifer said portals are already used by banks and government organisations, while there are also offerings from the likes of Google, Yahoo and smaller providers, such as Pageflakes or Protopage.

For example, iGoogle allows users to choose which Google and non-Google apps they want available on their page.

These apps could include Google Mail, various news feeds, YouTube and weather reports, to name but a few.

Phifer added: "Portals aggregate things. It's the place to go to get your working tools. The web becomes the centre of [users'] portal network."

According to Phifer, companies could use portals to allow users to access locally stored corporate data, such as email and in-house applications, as well as enterprise mashups.

Phifer explained: "As context changes, the portal view and behaviour changes as well."

Phifer advised companies to get ahead of a user rush for web portals and prepare their IT infrastructure to support them, as well as look at the security issues portals could present.

Phifer said: "Don't focus exclusively on the technology. You're going to have to have an 'acceptable use' policy as well."

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