Analyst Watch: Portals Underperform - InformationWeek

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Analyst Watch: Portals Underperform

Despite the popularity of enterprise portals, portal projects aren't delivering the expected benefits--saving money, driving revenue, or retaining employees and customers--because of unexpectedly high infrastructure and application-integration costs, according to a Forrester Research survey.

The report cites an "IT-centric portal mind-set" and the inability of companies to tie portals to specific business processes as being behind many of the problems. While application access and integration are the keys to portal success, the report notes, the ability to actually perform this integration has only improved marginally because most packaged and custom-built applications don't have portlet-compatible interfaces or support the emerging portal standards JSR 168 and WSRP. The report concludes that "weak alignment with business goals, soft budget justification, and too many choices doom rudderless portal projects and threaten to bury this technology in the app-development platform."

Despite this, portals rank high on the list of must-haves for many in the enterprise. Thirty-four percent of IT decision makers name portals second only to security as the technology they expect to purchase in 2004. Portals are seen as a way to give employees and customers greater access to enterprise resources, cut costs using Web-server consolidation, and provide employees and customers with secure access to transactions and company data.

The survey finds that 88% of portals serve employees rather than customers. "These portals focus too much attention on saving employee (or IT) labor and not enough on customer or partner needs," the report says. Forrester surveyed 83 employees involved in portal projects in both business and IT roles at companies with $100 million or more in revenue.

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