Enterprise 2.0 Interactivity Spectrum – Portal, Content or Both?

“Should we use a portal or content management system to launch our x, y or z project?” is one of the most common questions heard from from organizations embarking on Enterprise 2.0 projects. It is a complex, critical debate that will has significant implications for future agility and capabilities that IT organizations will be able to deliver to their business sponsors. There is no single answer that address all situations, but getting a firm grasp on the “Enterprise 2.0 Interactivity Spectrum” can help companies to execute educated decisions around what technologies to select for their next generation of online business platforms.

Evolution – Content and Portal Platforms
As organizations determine what technologies will be part of their technical enablement roadmap, Gartner’s Generation 7 Portals – Unifying the User Experience report, highlights considerations given platform vendor’s move toward consolidation of Enterprise 2.0 functionality on a single platform. Gartner points of that “Whatever their features, organizations much regard portals as a means toward business ends, rather than ends in themselves. Organizations should define the role of the portal infrastructure relative to investments in converging technologies, such as Web content management, social networking, analytics and enterprise mashups.”

Given this roadmap the Enterprise 2.0 Interactivity Spectrum provides a visual guide to how certain business requirements are met by various technologies and for a particular item of business functionality, which platform it commonly resides on.

Figure 1.0 – Enterprise 2.0 Interactivity Spectrum

The Enterprise 2.0 Interactivity Spectrum (Figure 1.0) pictured above examines a series of common functions provided by enterprise platforms, sorting them by the level of active user interaction expected with each one (mouse clicks / points of interaction) and the level of complexity to deliver a solution for the given function (deployment / development time).  Functionality that ranks more on the side of content platform creation and management is marked in light blue, while traditional portal technology is denoted by dark blue markings.  Generalizations were made around each portion of functionality as described below.

Mapping Common Functional Requirements
Based on the following 12 areas of general enterprise 2.0 platform usage it is possible to draw some assumptions and make generalizations as to where these technologies fall within the spectrum. For each of these areas a certain amount of interactivity and complexity of development and deployment are considered within the map. More interactive technologies or technologies that rely on application integration can best be server by content centric platforms, most business user management centric, content production needs can best be served by content centric platforms. Ultimately, the solutions produced by an organization will require a blend of these technologies to be successful, today and beyond.

  1. Intranet / Extranet User Accounts – ability to allow users to have an authentication session to the site
  2. Static Content – traditional web page content consisting of text and images
  3. Discussions / Blogs / Wikis – collaborative technologies that allow multiple authors to interact around a particular area of subject-matter
  4. Retention Management – technical capability to ensure complete management of unstructured information’s lifecyle
  5. Document Management – online document management capabilities that support access and versioning of documents
  6. Social Networking – LinkedIn style networking ability focused on communication across an organization
  7. Search / Tagging – social technologies that enable users to locate information stored in various repositories in the enterprise
  8. Business Process Management – not within a content or portal platform, but an essential part of many users daily operations. Platforms need some capability to surface process related information.
  9. Personalized Content – based on user information, explicit or implicit, the platform must be able to respond to and deliver targeted content to end users.
  10. Composite Applications – given the breadth of business platforms that organizations have deployed and support (CRM, ERP, etc) it is important to consider a platform’s capability to deliver applications from disparate systems in a single interface.
  11. Rich Media – B2B and B2C online systems ability to serve rich media to clients.
  12. Business Intelligence – ability to support highly interactive visualizations that allow users to adjust attributes and views of those visualizations

Positioned for Longterm Success
Thinking about platform investment through the lens of the spectrum allows organizations to select optimal technologies to support their current and future business operations. New needs will emerge over time and platforms will continue to converge to make choosing a system or systems to support the business easier and more efficiently. Until then, the Enterprise 2.0 Interactivity Spectrum will provide a state-of-art guide to today’s options.

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