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The enterprise information portal market: evolution and commoditization.

The enterprise information portal market over the past several years, and according to Gartner Group it is no longer a viable market segment that can support a sustainable business model. Nearly all so-called pure play portal vendors have been acquired and/or are nearly out of business Corn moditization of this technology market segment was perhaps one of the fastest and most brutal in the history of the software industry primarily driven by two factors: a severe economic downturn, and the entry of large vendors such as IBM, SAP and Oracle providing portal services as a feature or component of application servers.

In the early stages of the portal market many pure-play portals vendors found them selves competing not against each other but against in-house IT departments Many H' professionals leveraged their infrastructure s built-in Internet technologies, aggregating disparate intranets and ubiquitous URLs to create (in a sense) an intranet on steroids the business-to-employee (B2E) portal Some organizations have rapidly evolved to sup port cascading B2E portals by business unit or department, and have quickly leveraged that success into business-to-business business-to-customer and business to-supplier portals. Law firms, for example on the bleeding edge of portal technology adoption have perceived direct business value from not only empowering their virtual workforces but providing instant gratification for their customers through a B2C portal.

Portals To Nowhere

Over the course of 2002 I presented to 600 organizations, and only 42 indicated that they had a document management system beyond their legal department. In the first three months of 2003, I have presented to 315 companies in three countries and only eight of these organizations had DM systems in place to optimize their business processes. Many of these organizations had deployed B2E portals without an integrated information management (DM/RM/KM) system, and they don't deliver a clear ROI and business value outside of consolidating HR information and multiple disparate intranets.

They have become like a sad country-western song--"Portals to Nowhere"--where users cannot find vitally relevant information pertinent to their business process or organizational initiatives. Invariably, I have encountered this situation again and again m all vertical market segments--especially the U.S. federal government, where H' and business unit managers attempt to streamline and optimize business processes to gain competitive advantage and clear ROI, but do not have an information management system (DM/RM/KM) in place.

Smart Enterprise Suites and Application Platform Suites

Gartner Group analysts have recently identified two significant trends in the rapidly evolving portal market: Smart Enterprise Suite (SES), and Application Platform Suites (APS). These new approaches for deploying various types of enterprise portals represent a major divergence in the portal market and are driving its commoditization. Few vendors today, however, are in a position to provide a seamlessly integrated suite of applications that deliver on the concept of the SES Hummingbird was the industry's first vendor to recognize this emerging trend and is delivering on the promise of an SES today with the Hummingbird Enterprise integrated enterprise information management system.

Some basic components of a Smart Enterprise Suite:

* Portal;

* Document/Content and Records management;

* KM or information retrieval (IR);

* Taxonomy, indexing and metadata management tools;

* Collaboration;

* Workflow; and

* Business Intelligence Analytical Tools.

Application Platform Suites

The application platform suite is having a major impact on the portal market worldwide, and could be considered a major disruptive technology. Application server platforms such as BEA's WebLogic and IBM's WebSphere are bundling in portal services (and in some cases, content management) as features of their J2EE servers. Unlike the SES, which is a suite of higher-level applications in the organization, the APS represents a significant challenge to IT and business unit managers because of the integration issues and the heritage of this product area.

Portals and Collaborative E-Commerce

Organizations are now deploying enterprise portals to optimize business processes, and to facilitate new business models such as collaborative e-commerce. Law firms in particular are just beginning to leverage their portal infrastructure and information management systems to enable collaborative ecommerce by deploying secure electronic deal rooms to virtual employees and business partners for conducting mergers and acquisitions.

Enterprise information portals are perhaps today's most important enterprise application integration technology, and will continue to evolve as an enabling technology to facilitate many advanced aspects of information sharing and knowledge management. B2E, B2B, B2S and B2C portals are rapidly evolving to meet the needs of the virtual enterprise and are delivering on the promise of information utopia. Organizations that do not have a well-designed or well-managed enterprise information management system in place will have difficulties gaining competitive advantage in the next wave of e-commerce. The Hummingbird Enterprise delivers on the SES promise and many organizations today are leveraging it to their competitive advantage.

Hummingbird Ltd. is a global enterprise software company employing 1300 people in nearly 40 offices around the world. Hummingbird Enterprise[TM] creates a 360[degrees] view of content with products that are both modular and interoperable, including Business Intelligence, Data Integration, Portal, and Document Management. Please visit:
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Author:Auditore, Peter J.
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2003
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