What are the Major Functions of Portals?
According to the analyst and consulting company Ovum, the ideal portal is based on eight functionality areas:
Although most of the functionality is not new, what is new is the idea that the business value of the whole is considerably more than the sum of its parts. Thus, a successful portal does not only consist of either a good collaboration support or a good integration of the information sources. Rather it consists of – just like a successful cooking recipe – a well-integrated mixture of the basic portal functionalities.
Search and Navigation
This functionality forms the basis for most of the successful public web portals meaning that a successful portal should support its users in an efficient search for contents.
A portal should warrant the integration of information from disparate sources. Moreover, the user should also be able to optimally use this information. There are several mechanisms for doing this. One such promising technique of innovative interfaces is the Unified Content API (Application Programming Interface) which speeds up the development of portal applications. The Unified Content API supports all current tools for developing web environments, such as JAVA, C++, ActiveX, Visual- and Non-Visual-Java Beans.
Personalization is vital to the delivery of appropriate information to portal users: each user gets only the information which is specifically tailored to his/her needs. Personalization should be based on user roles, as well as user preferences.
Notification (push technology) is referred to as a system in which a user receives information automatically from a network server. Push technologies are designed to send information and software directly to a user’s desktop without the user actively requesting it. Thus, the user has the opportunity to subscribe to active information sources (such as news-feeds and periodically updated reports) and ask to be alerted when documents are updated.
Task Management and Workflow
Collaboration and Groupware
Knowledge management and groupware ensure that the required information is stored in the right place and in the right mode. By this means the right persons are brought together with the right information. Groupware software assists in less formal collaboration than workflow tools. As with workflow automation, groupware increases the value delivered by many types of specialized portals; for example, it:
Integration of Applications/Business Intelligence
In addition to the already mentioned functionalities, a portal can integrate and support a specific application type, for example:
The infrastructure functionality constitutes the fundamental for the work environment – the other 7 functionalities mentioned above build up on this one. The run-time infrastructure associated with the portal will have a primary effect on manageability, scalability, security and availability.