IT MATTERS: Portal Combat

What the Enterprise Portal Market Suggests about Successful Deployment of Enterprise Portal Software

Although there is no doubt that 2002 and the first quarter of 2003 have been extremely difficult for software companies, recent figures surprisingly indicate that the enterprise portal software (EPS) market is continuing to grow.

IDC analysis even indicates that this growth may continue over the next few years (www.portalsmag.com). According to their research, five factors are primarily contributing to this trend:

  1. Software vendors recently added EPS to their portfolio of products, and EPS is penetrating their installed base.
  2. More companies are beginning to understand the business benefits of EPS.
  3. As EPS is deployed to improve specific business processes, the benefits are increasingly easier to measure.
  4. The increased marketing dollars invested in educating the prospect base are beginning to pay off for some software companies.
  5. Broader adoption and deployment of EPS across the enterprise is spurring sales for companies that originally deployed only to a single department.

For firms considering EPS deployment, it is useful to know what these survey data suggest in terms of EPS trends in the marketplace. For example, it is helpful to know what types of companies are making this investment to get an indication of experience in an industry sector. Furthermore, understanding within the companies who is leading the implementation and which departments are targeting this change also lends useful insight.

In the first instance, IDC survey results have indicated that those companies involved in portal initiatives were highly concentrated in financial services, process manufacturing and business and legal services industries (Figure 1). Interestingly, these data also indicate that cross-functional teams typically lead the portal implementation project, followed by the CIO (Figure 2). Such information may suggest the importance of considering the business user as well as including the IT department in decision making. In addition, these data suggest that companies are focusing on addressing specific business problems using EPS technology.

Additional data indicate that perhaps portals are being deployed to address needs in specific departments as well as specific business needs (Figure 3). Such departmental focus suggests a staged implementation strategy for the majority of the companies surveyed. This staged implementation enables companies to limit their risk and investment before expanding the scope of a given project. The departments that are generally first to target the software are corporate management, human resources and marketing.

Finally, it appears that there is typically a discrepancy in the initial implementation between employees who access the portal versus those who use it daily (Figure 4). Such usage difference suggests that one of the biggest challenges in portal implementation is involving employees in the process in order to capture the features and functions that they need to create greater job efficiencies and effectiveness.

The business process and department focus indicate that the EPS buyer should assess current capabilities for supporting decisions before and after a software purchase/implementation of this magnitude. Although a specific department may be funding an initial implementation, future use and deployment should also be considered at the outset to ensure long-term viability as well as to limit short-term risk. Furthermore, simply planning to provide all employees with access to corporate information is insufficient. Instead, involving employees in cross-functional teams is a trend that is shaping the marketplace. Corporate benefits can be realized by providing access to custom applications or legacy systems and improving information sharing among employees, suppliers and customers. Ultimately, as e-business evolves, EPS software will either meet the challenges of such change or lose out on market opportunities.

Author of the article
Charla Griffy-Brown, PhD
Charla Griffy-Brown, PhD,

, is an associate professor of information systems at the Graziadio School of Business and Management. In 2004, Dr. Griffy-Brown received a research award from the International Association for the Management of Technology and was recognized as one of the most active and prolific researchers in the fields of technology management and innovation. A former researcher at the Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development in Tokyo, she has also served as an associate professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Dr. Griffy-Brown graduated from Harvard University, is a former Fulbright Scholar, and holds a PhD in technology management from Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. She has worked for NASA at the Kennedy Space Center and has taught innovation/technology management courses in Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Japan. She has also served as a consultant for the United Nation’s Global Environmental Facility and the European Commission.

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