Companies are continually looking for ways to provide information to customers, partners, and employees in a secure environment. The answer for many is to set up a secure portal and, according to our recent Digital Priorities survey, 34% of respondents are planning to do just that.
Digital Experience Portals
Portals aren't what they used to be. Traditional portals were typically a web page with a series of links to other websites or applications, or they were connecting applications through complex integrations. Fortunately, things have changed, and the portal has taken on a new life within the digital experiences of many companies.
Today's digital experience portals provide built-in content management capabilities, along with a few features out-of-the-box such as communities, robust profiles, and permissions, collaboration, analytics, and search. Modern portals also offer the ability to connect to other applications and content repositories using APIs and other approaches. Often, this integration pulls data and content directly into the portal experience, giving users one place to access everything they need.
There are several types of secure portals you can build to support different audiences. These include:
- Customer Support Portal – where you provide access to service and support capabilities such as creating and managing support tickets, search knowledge base and interacting with other customers via community forums and social feeds.
- Knowledge Portal – where you integrate a series of information repositories to provide a single source of knowledge for customers, support workers, partners and so on.
- Training Portal – where you provide employees or customers with access to training modules from a Learning Management System, in addition to knowledge-based content and community features where you can connect with others to work together and support each other.
- Extranets – allow you to provide confidential information to external third parties such as partners you collaborate with regularly.
- Employee Portals – an extension of the Intranet, an employee portal provides employees with one place to go to access the applications they work with daily, get information on the company and its products and services, as well as interact with other employees through clubs, centers of excellence, projects and more.
Taking all these types of portals into consideration, we asked survey respondents what types of portals they were planning to implement this year. The results in the diagram below show that support portals, knowledge portals, and employee portals are the primary types of secure portals planned for this year.
Q: What type of portal are you planning to implement in 2018?
Challenges with Implementing Secure Portals
There are plenty of challenges to implementing secure portals. One of the biggest challenges is getting budget to cover the costs of technology and resources required. Getting organizational buy-in and executive support is critical.
However, the budget was not the biggest challenge we heard in our survey. The primary challenge mentioned was a lack of proper resources. This may be because there aren’t enough resources to support another initiative, or it could be the resources available don’t have the right skills.
One thing we see at Ingeniux that has been very beneficial for our customers is that our portal solutions are built on top of the Ingeniux CMS platform. As a result, developers with content management skills and a strong understanding of working with APIs can get a portal solution up and running quickly.
This tight integration of content management and portal technology may also be the answer to the second highest challenge: current technology. Most organizations don’t have the right technology in-house to deliver a modern portal solution, particularly one that delivers content-driven experiences such as those mentioned above.
Q: What are the primary challenges you face in implementing a portal solution?
Three Critical Considerations for a Successful Portal Implementation
As you start thinking about implementing a secure portal for your employees, customers or partners, there are three things to keep mind: people, process, and technology.
People: People takes on a few different meanings in this case. First, you need to get executive buy-in for your portal. A secure portal brings together information from many different applications and content repositories, so you will need to work with people across the organization. Executive support can help ensure that cross-org collaboration will work. The second aspect of the people component is getting the right team with the right skills in place to ensure success. Team roles include a project manager with excellent communication and collaboration skills, business and functional analysts, developers, tester, as well as business people from the areas where you will be pulling information. You will also have content authors and editors working with content directly in the portal to consider.
Process: Pulling information from across the company and combining it in ways that support the needs of the end user may require changes to existing processes, as well as new processes to set up. You must get buy-in from the business units that portal will help and work with them to ensure the right processes are in place to ensure the portal is successful.
Technology: Digital experience portals offer many important capabilities over their traditional counterparts. Before you select a portal solution, think through the experience you want to create for your end-users, think about all the systems that store and manage the information you want to surface in the portal, think about what additional content experiences you want to build within the portal directly to take the experience that much further. Once you understand what you want to achieve, look for a technology that can support that experience with the least amount of effort and costs.
In the end, this portal is delivering essential information and functionality that help your customers, employees or partners (or whatever group you build your portal for) work with you and use your products and services. In some cases, it may be the primary communication tool for them. It’s not an experience to do lightly, but done well, it brings many benefits to your company.
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