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Knowledge Management Portals Are Going To Stay

Bill Ives
Expert Author
Published: 2010-09-23

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Remember portals? I have heard about a number of cases where enterprise 2.0 collaboration systems have replaced portals. One firm even replaced their portal with Facebook and got a lot of PR for it. Is this a trend? I do not mean the Facbook part, just the E20 part.

Perhaps but a recent Forrester report, Portal Servers Refuse To Go Quietly, by Tim Waters found that portals are still popular in many circles. As the report summary cited, "portal server technologies continue to be widely deployed by enterprises. Although leading vendors are evolving portal servers into broad content and collaboration platforms, the core portal services - aggregation "on the glass" and user authorization for access control and personalization - remain the leading use cases. Newer alternatives, including open source platforms and mashups, are gaining ground."

So portals may remain popular but they need to look over their c shoulders as the report also recommended that, "knowledge management teams should carefully evaluate their needs to determine if a portal server layer is appropriate."  

Drawing for a survey taken in North America and Europe, Q4 2009, they found that 20% of the firms surveyed planned to expand or upgrade existing portal server implementations, 26% had already implemented and were not expanding while 15% planned to implement over the next year or longer.   

There were some concerns. Many users suffered from the complexity and the extensive customization effort. I have seen many of these drawn out portal implementations first hand.  They can be the darling of the solutions integrators looking for big time projects with ever expanding budgets.  The report offers a number of instances of similar outcomes. It also said that the majority of the users they interviewed were surprised by the amount of customization required.  I am not surprised at this finding as I have rarely seen a portal project come in on budget or time.

Downsized budgets can be an obstacle for new portal efforts.  The report found that many firms indicated that the move toward Lean and Agile development practices has encouraged them to reevaluate the rule of heavy handed portal servers. The report encourages knowledge management and IT people to be aware of the other options available.

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About the Author:
Dr. Bill Ives is an independent consultant and writer who has worked with Fortune 100 companies in business uses of emerging technologies for over 20 years. For several years he led the Knowledge Management Practice for a large consulting firm.. Now he primarily helps companies with their business blogs. He is also the VP of Social Media and blogger for TVissimo, a new TV schedule search engine. Prior to consulting, Dr. Ives was a Research Associate at Harvard University exploring the effects of media on cognition. He obtained his Ph. D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Toronto. Bill can be reached at his blog: Portals and KM. He also writes for the FastForward blog and the AppGap blog.

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