A portal is a Knowledge site that acts as a single source for all information on a specific domain. An effective Knowledge portal offers the user a broad array of information, arranged in a way that is most convenient for the user to access. When designed, implemented and maintained correctly a Knowledge portal becomes the starting or entry point of a Knowledge user introducing him into various information, resources and other sites in the internet. It has the power to draw together a common group of people, common on the basis of their age, profession, location etc.
Portals are browser-based applications that enable activities including connecting business processes within the business and across the supply chain by unifying access to structured and unstructured data, integrating applications to support the business processes as well as providing access to real-time, current and consistent information.
Popular Portals are Yahoo, MSN etc.
Types of Portals:
The portals can be differentiated on the basis of their content and intended users. They can be categorized into:
oVertical Portals (Vortals)
These are Knowledge portals which focus only on one specific industry, domain or vertical. Vertical portals or vortals simply provide tools, information, articles, research and statistics on the specific industry or vertical. As the Knowledge has become a standard tool for business vortals provide an ideal gateway for businesses to market their products & services and to gain exposure within their vertical by developing and using vortals. Classic examples of vertical portals are cnet.com which focuses only on computer and related issues, mp3.com only on mp3 audio etc.
Most of the times, vertical portals offer information and services customized to niche audiences about a particular area of interest. Vertical industry portals, known as vortals, are sites that provide a gateway to information related to a particular industry, such as, insurance, automobiles, etc.
There are innumerable possibilities for establishing special vertical portals on the market. The numerous solutions can be divided into 2 major groups that partially overlap:
provide personalized access to selected information of a specific company
support business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce
These are Knowledge portals which focus on a wide array of interests and topics. They focus on general audience and try to present something for everybody. Horizontal portals try act as an entry point of a Knowledge surfer into the internet, providing content on the topic of interest and guiding towards the right direction to fetch more related resources and information. Classic examples of horizontal portals are yahoo.com, msn.com etc which provide visitors with information and on a wide area of topics.
Horizontal portals target the entire Internet community. These sites, often referred to as "megaportals", usually contain search engines and provide the ability for user to personalize the page by offering various channels (i.e. access to other information such as regional weather, stock quotes or news updates).
oIntranet Portals (Enterprise Portals)
These are portals developed and maintained for use by members of the intranet or the enterprise network. In today's demanding business enterprise the key to productivity of the employees depends on access to timely information and resources. The most common implementation of enterprise portals focus on providing employees with this information on a regularly updated manner along with document management system, availability of applications on demand, online training courses and Knowledge casts etc along with communication in the form of emails, messaging, Knowledge meetings etc.
Knowledge portals increase the effectiveness of knowledge workers by providing easy access to information that is necessary or helpful to them in one or more specific roles. Knowledge portals are not mere intranet portals since the former are supposed to provide extra functionality such as collaboration services, sophisticated information discovery services and a knowledge map.
An enterprise portal (sometimes called a corporate portal) provides personalized access to an appropriate range of information about a particular company.
Enterprise portals have become one of the hottest new technologies of the Internet. Initially called intranet portals - enterprise portals existing for the benefit of the company's own employees, this set of technologies has developed to assist and provide access to a company's business partners (suppliers, customers) as well.
As opposed to public Knowledge portals, enterprise portals aim at providing a virtual workplace for each individual using them - executives, employees, suppliers, customers, third-party service providers. Rather than offering access to consumer goods, services, and information, enterprise portals are designed to give each individual using them access to all of the information, business applications, and services needed to perform their jobs.
A company's public Knowledgesite itself is not automatically a corporate portal. It can become one if the Knowledgesite provides personalization and navigation functionality, as many are beginning to do.
More advanced enterprise portal solutions provide access via mobile devices, such as cell phones, PDA's, handheld PC's etc. facilitating on the road work, decision making, and business processes.
Marketspace portals exist to support the business-to-business and business-to-customer e-commerce.
1. software support for e-commerce transactions
2. ability to find and access rich information about the products on sale
3. ability to participate in discussion groups with other vendors and/or buyers