Think of the word “portal.” What is the first thing that comes to your mind? The travelers will recall a grand entrance to a medieval cathedral. The fantasy fans will imagine a magical doorway between two worlds. Yes, the word has various connotations. In this article, we will discuss the power of business portals. You will learn how to create an app for your enterprise. Are you ready? Let’s start.
What is an enterprise portal?
When building a house for the first time, you learn everything about the materials used and building techniques. The same goes for the web development. Before we proceed to the development of an enterprise portal, let’s discuss what it is and what issues it solves.
An enterprise web portal is a web-based platform that stores information from numerous sources in a single interface.
The employees, customers, and partners do not have to visit different pages, log into endless applications searching for the exact data. They interact with the relevant content through the platform that collects the business information and applications in one place.
Image 1. Evolution of the web and mobile enterprise application development on the example of an enterprise portal, SAP
Let’s take a look at how a web portal helped our client improve collaboration.
The US automotive company Motive Retail called us and shared their story. They wanted to improve the collaboration between car manufacturers and a nationwide dealer network under a united web system. Our team started exploring this domain. We resulted in a Liferay-based web portal which due to its umbrella structure provided a well-ordered system of roles and permissions and arranged communication with clients. Each dealer and manufacturer got their personal website to access business information on distribution, prices, agreements, etc.
In parallel, we have been working on the platform for unifying documentation. Each manufacturer and dealer has its own standard for documents in XML (material returns and claims, financial statements, bills of lading). So we’ve been transforming docs with a retail transformation solution Motive Integrator to display data to everyone in an appropriate view.
You cannot make the right choice of the enterprise portal development company if you don’t know why you need a web portal in the first place and what functions it should perform. The following classifications will help you to make the right call.
Types of enterprise portals and challenges they solve
There are several classifications of portals. According to the common classification, they are divided into three groups:
- enterprise information portals — give the access to information sources from a single location;
- enterprise application portals — offer the access to the applications used by the company;
- enterprise expertise portals — serve for analyzing the data used by the staff for fine-tuned access to the organization’s knowledge base.
Let’s review the classification by Liferay as one of the leaders among digital experience platforms. In the e-book, the company outlined four basic challenges of the large organizations and specified the types of portals for addressing them.
Difficulties with finding the required content
If a person wants to get a loan, first of all, he needs to know the lending terms. He visits the website of a banking institution but cannot find the exact information. Disappointed, he contacts customer support. A Self-Service Portal will prevent this mishap. Intelligent search, forums, and a well-structured library will help a new customer to find answers to frequently asked questions. Integrating a third-party chatbot will provide the excellent customer experience and a quick solution to the online tasks.
The inefficient collaboration tools
Sometimes the employee’s computer breaks. No one is immune to such misfortune. The employee should make a request. In some cases, the lack of the relevant application makes it difficult to replace the broken device quickly. The result is forced downtime and the deadline shifts. An Internal Service Portal is the most valuable services for taking the immediate action in case of an emergency. With a feature of tracking down the user’s request, the employee will always know when he gets a new computer.
Low level of engagement
One of our clients complained of the low-level engagement among his team members. We suggested launching a Social Collaboration Portal as a place for storing the vital records, tracking comments, feedbacks and the older versions of files. The killer feature of this portal is that it could also be used as a storage of informal content (corporate images, videos) as well. The formal and informal content on the portal encouraged the staff to keep a green dot next to their names and induce checking notifications and updates more willingly.
Image 2. A social collaboration portal based on the IBM WebSphere Portal platform, IBM Center for the Business of the Government
Log in to different sites for the personalized information
If you are a wholesale giant collaborating with more than 100 vendors and retailers all over the world, you understand that each of them deserves the individual approach. It will be a sound solution to create a Partner Portal with a single sign-on for each of your partners. Entering their personal site, they can use the personalized product catalogs, price lists, discounts, and special offers. Your vendors and distributors will be pleased with this individual approach, and their satisfaction will lead to long-term and fruitful partnership.
We discussed the types of enterprise portals and issues eliminated with their help. The next thing that deserves your special attention is their quality attributes. Don’t leave them unattained. Otherwise, you will waste your money on building an inefficient and useless product.
Three pillars of the enterprise portal
There are three factors at stake when you are choosing a company that provides such services. Let’s consider them in further detail.
The security is one of the main challenges of enterprise development as the number of data breach cases is constantly growing. An international non-profit organization OWASP continuously updates the report where the primary security concerns for web application security are revealed. Bear in mind these recommendations while choosing the development platform to avoid the cyber attacks and the data breaches. The corporate solution RSA SecurID and its free analogs Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator ensure the additional security of your enterprise portal as well.
Your intranet portal requires only a two-level secure access control. On the first level, it is carried out by virtual private networks (VPN). The strict divisions of roles and permissions serve as the second level of security. It means that staff accesses the business information and applications as per their level of permission which is based on the job title and their responsibilities. If you need to provide safety when the employees log into the app via mobile devices, MAC address filtering copes easily with this task by limiting the number of gadgets which can access the network.
Image 3. Roles and permissions in SAP Enterprise portal, Apprisia
You have heard about the issues at American Express. Maybe you even became this unlucky person who could not access his financial statements or make a payment online. That’s ok. From time to time everyone falls victim to the server crashes. It is much worse when the unexpected technical issues influence your profit negatively. That is when the good fault tolerance comes to the fore. There are several ways to achieve it. The first one is to apply a server mirroring strategy.
Another way to get a fail-safe system and save money is to implement server virtualization. It supposes the operation of several servers on the same hardware. We recommend adding a server for backup of all your vital data. In case of a critical program error, they will be restored while your system administrators will be trying to fix manually failed hardware. Moreover, if your servers are suffering from the high load, you can enable auto-scaling, for example, add more computer facilities to your site.
Top 5 platforms for enterprise portals
When you consider developing an enterprise portal, you review the most popular services trying to define features and capabilities that are crucial for your organization. The apps below are used by the largest companies included in the list. Well, let’s discover how these giants arrange their corporate daily work to be TOPs and take best.
Red Hat JBoss Portal Platform
Red Hat of JBoss allows creating an enterprise portal, setting up the access to the project management system, CRM, and corporate mail. Its open source nature ensures the flexible customization and integration. Though Red Hat JBoss Portal Platform is one of the leaders among enterprise software providers, its implementation is more complicated in comparison with other open source platforms, for example, Liferay.
SAP Enterprise Portal
SAP Enterprise Portal is a part of SAP NetWeaver set of tools. The advanced user-centric design practices and a proven reputation of SAP as one of the most reliable software vendors for B2B enterprises attract many customers. Integration with SAP Fiori set of application helps to manage workflow approvals, self-service tasks, arrange actions, get fast to the relevant information and other with a consumer-grade UX. The role-based access to the business processes streamlines the workflow. SAP supports multiple development frameworks for creating a coherent ecosystem for your business. At the same time, a lack of centralized content management system and plain and simple ways of customization forces responsible persons to seek a more favorable solution.
Image 4. Simlified user experience with SAP Fiora set of tools, SAP
SharePoint is a collaboration system from Microsoft highly used by enterprises as a corporate portal. It is demanded because of the rich out-of-the-box functionality which enables to create a reliable intranet for organizations. However, the customization can take a lot of time and investments. Besides, even though Microsoft offers various payment models, owning SharePoint is going to cost a fortune. Concerning the enterprise app development cost, SharePoint is less affordable than Liferay which development, training or support services will cost you less.
IBM WebSphere Portal
World-famous IBM helps the clients to sharpen their competitive edge with IBM WebSphere Portal solution. Its flexibility and adaptiveness earned the respect of big companies and the social tools speed up the communication within the organization. It provides multi-parameters personalization (roles, geolocation, language, etc.). And various themes and skins, easy look-and-feel interface and control elements, e.g., banners, navigation, make an enhanced user experience. The main factor that deters the customers is the extreme complexity of the solution.
WebCenter Portal Cloud
Oracle launched WebCenter Portal Cloud aiming to provide a reliable solution for creating enterprise portals. Oracle, of all software producers, cared about incredible deployment capabilities. An extensive library of reusable components reduces development time while single-click patching and automated backups simplify ongoing maintenance. It enables businesses to build a dynamic web portal in a blink of an eye that works perfectly on any device and can connect customers, partners, and employees anytime anywhere. Regarding the downsides of this popular platform, we should note the complaints of existing customers that finding and trying out the relevant enterprise software takes much effort.
Image 5. An enterprise portal based on the WebCenter Portal platform, Oracle
We discussed five most popular enterprise portal solutions developed by the industry leaders. As you may see, all of them have both pros and cons. Last but not least, five reasons why Liferay not only seems a decent competitor to the mentioned giants but also can teach them a thing or two.
5 reasons to choose Liferay for the development of an enterprise portal
The primary features of Liferay such as Mobile Support, Responsive design, Social collaboration will be helpful for your company. However, Liferay got on the list of the leaders of digital experience platforms not because of them but because of its unique capacities. Gartner mentioned its agility and excellent customer support. Let’s find out what other make Liferay the best service for enterprise development.
Image 6. Liferay as the best platform for enterprise and mobile app development, Liferay
Extensive out-of-the-box functionality
This is the very reason why the growing number of companies choose Liferay app development solutions. The customer’s team has little to create from scratch. They integrate a new Content Management System by leveraging the existing functionality. Out-of-the-box features include Web Content Structures, predefined Page Templates, a Contact Us Portlet and social media capabilities that take the communication between the team members to a higher level.
When you serve diverse customers, you have to update constantly the enterprise portal to show the personalized content. Sometimes you even have to change the elements of the web-page to give them what they want. With the help of portlets and handy drag-and-drop content capabilities of Liferay, you can customize elements of the corporate portal and thus provide the clients with the unique user experience.
Count the number of the apps used by your stuff daily, and you will be surprised. However, you think that they are not enough. You need an entirely new platform. Soon the search for a solution that can be easily integrated with the numerous apps turns into a real hassle. Here is when Liferay app development services become your lifeline. You can easily integrate your databases and data sources, third-party services for single sign-on, customer relationship platforms and enterprise resource planning.
Easy implementation and usage
User-friendly nature of Liferay will allow the customers to get to grips with it pretty quickly. The business owners can easily create new pages or blogs, deliver valuable content without much technical expertise and the customers get the required information in a twink.
Liferay always respects the growing needs and demands of their customers and quickly turns them into the peculiar features of the new products or enhancement of already existing ones. With the released version Liferay 7.1 it becomes much easier to upload effortlessly unstructured content to the pages. The update will come especially handy when you create a temporary page for a marketing campaign or a special offer.
So now you see the power of the different types of the enterprise portals. You had a look at the examples of the enterprise portals developed by the industry leaders. All is left to do is to find the right vendor. We shed some light on why Liferay may be the most appropriate option when you need to create an enterprise portal. It rests with you to decide what is best for your company. If you see Liferay as a suitable platform, contact us and our team is ready to provide you with a rough estimate.