communications is to blame; IT is to blame; HR is to blame; and above
all else, senior management is to blame. IT needs to better understand
the business and usability; HR needs to better understand the
technology; and communications needs to get better at everything.
Moreover, corporate communications is uniquely positioned to step-up
and take control of the intranet as its champion; to convince senior
management of the benefits, to bring together disparate groups in the
organization, and to paint a vision of the future while leading the
march towards it. Before they can take charge, communicators need to
better understand the technology and the future.
technology underpinning the intranet has rapidly changed in the past 10
years, and it will likely change even more dramatically in the next 10
years. In recent years we’ve witnessed the rise of advanced content
management, knowledge management, search, and the enterprise portal solution
The new social media, Web 2.0, burst onto the scene and is proving to
play and important part of this future. Another critical arc in the
intranet’s evolution is represented by service-oriented architecture
(SOA), a mission-critical important component to the increasingly
important portal solution.
the concept of portal is nothing new. A portal is a door or gateway of
importance. An enterprise portal solution is a complex piece of
software that powers a portal intranet and provides user
personalization, search, advanced security and, perhaps most
importantly, enterprise application integration (EAI
the software and processes that link together or integrate an
organizations many applications (e.g. ERP, CRM, HR applications).
Application integration is arguably the most important component of the
portal and SOA is the catalyst that fuels the integration.
- Composite application – an application that draws its functionality and data from different sources
- Portal – a composite application that integrates data from many different sources
- SOA – a style of integrating disparate resources or applications
the underlying technology, if you subscribe to the notion that the
intranet in purpose is very different from the Internet, and that
employees are typically after very specific pieces of data and
knowledge, and rarely if ever ‘surf’ the intranet, then the importance
of application integration is clear. As employees most often complain
they “can’t find anything!” Therefore, quick access to the data and
knowledge they need is tantamount to success. SOA enables this quick
is not a product but a style or framework for integrating disparate
resources or applications. SOA allows different applications written in
different languages on different systems to be accessed and retrieved
by a single composite application, such as a
portal, for all to see – without the end user having a proprietary
piece of software (client) to use each of the different applications.
In short, applications are ‘loosely coupled’ together and are consumed
or used (viewed most often in the web browser) despite the different
technologies. Put another way, different applications are used or made
available by independent services regardless of platform.
are not really entities unto themselves, but rather a composite of all
the tools and applications linked together by the SOA. Portals work in
coordinated fashion with other supporting technologies including:
Content management systems
Document management systems
Knowledge management tools
Light directory access protocol
Web applications for finance, HR, and operations
Customer relationship management
Web 2.0 (blogs, wikis, etc.)
short, SOA is the glue that holds the enterprise intranet portal
together. Without SOA, the intranet home page can never be a true
portal without a phenomenal amount of manual effort to integrate and
update all of the little pieces that comprise the enterprise intranet.
Additionally, the SOA framework allows for easy application portability
– or the ability to change application server without reinventing the
locked to an application server means that you cannot keep your portal
(e.g. WebLogic), if your IT department decides to migrate to another
application server,” warns Janus Boye
, of Boye IT, the author of the preeminent Enterprise Portals Report
from CMS Watch. “Believe it or not, organizations actually change
application servers from time to time! Either way chances are that you
will not be using the same application server forever. Being locked
increases your future migration costs.”
intranet has traditionally been not a single system working for the
benefit of the organization, but a collection of fiefdoms operated by
independent groups and egos with independent priorities and politics.
This approach has led to sprawling intranets of 1000s of sites and
applications (see the portal and intranet case studies
and wasted millions upon millions of dollars and a tons of employee man
years while frustrating the hell out of employees. Smart planning and
strong leadership will provide a process for eliminating (or lessening
the deleterious impact) a lot of the waste and politics. SOA provides
the technology framework for putting this together under a single
umbrella, a single portal.
Review a free, 42-page sample excerpt
of The Enterprise Portals Report from CMSWatch.com.
Toby Ward is the President and Founder of Prescient Digital Media
with 15 years of progressive professional experience & business
consulting expertise. Contact us directly for more information on how
to transform your intranet into a high-value employee & business