Back when the Internet was first becoming popular with the public in the late 90's, the concept of the portal was being born. Originally, portals were used by large Internet and media companies as gateways to information. The idea was that offering a single entrance to users for news, weather, search engines, and other basic data was an important step in helping users feel comfortable using the Internet and in making it convenient for them to find the information they were most interested in. The idea was a tremendous success for many of the portals that developed.
Not long after the concept of the Internet portal was tried, the idea of the enterprise information portal was also developed. Enterprise information portals share many common features with Internet portals. For example, both are based on the Internet and both are gateways for accessing important information related to users. The main difference between the two portal types is the type of information being accessed.
In an enterprise information portal, also known as corporate portals, potential business clients can go to the portal on the Internet and can connect with all of the data they may need to make a business decision. However, this is just the beginning of the capability enterprise information portals can offer companies and departments.
Many companies are also using these portals to coordinate legacy systems which were formerly not integrated in any capacity. Individuals within the company or external vendors can access these systems using the single point of entry on the Internet which saves time and makes entire processes run smoother.
Besides legacy systems and data, enterprise information portals can also be used to combine all of the tools individuals need to accomplish their daily tasks. Desktop applications, email accounts, groupware programs, and other items can all be accessed via the single portal which makes all of these applications easier to manage and access even for employees who are relatively new to computers.
Currently, researchers have begun to document the change in the use of enterprise information portals and to chart how they are evolving. Many of the portals have evolved from simple methods of connecting people to information into systems that provide for collaborative activities. In the future, however, these portals will be able to change and to adapt to the preferences and usage of the individual person using them. That means each portal user will have a slightly different experience with the gateway depending on which features this user normally uses. Personalization, after all, is the biggest benefit of these portals whether they are used by Internet giants or by corporations.
These changes to corporate portals are already in the works. Today, ASPs (Application Service Providers) are looking to carve a niche for themselves by combining the features of an ISP (Internet Service Provider) and access to desktop applications, such as word processing programs and spreadsheet software. By uniting these two areas and allowing access to all of it through a single gateway, businesses will be better able to manage the programs and their staff will have ready access to all of the necessary tools. ASPs can also connect to ERP systems in order to further maximize efficiency and productivity.
Just as Internet portals changed the online experience for millions of users, so will enterprise information portals. These portals will open up a whole new world of possibilities beyond simple data access. In the near future, these portals will become as common place as those most people currently use to read the news.