Web Portal - Definition
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Web Portal Definition
A web portal cannot comprehensively be defined by a single explanation because of its correlation with websites and computer networks. A portal can be intranet, extranet or a gateway to the World Wide Web. Generally, web portals are specialized websites.
A Little More on What is a Web Portal
To understand it better lets get into specific: a) Firstly, a website is a collection of static pages(home page, contact us page ,about us page, etc.) that are interlinked under a specific domain name or url (e.g. www. Example .com) .one doesnt need to create and register an account to access information on a website. b) A portal on the other hand requires one to register into a network or specialized website in order to have access to information. When a portal is Intranet, it means that it has search capability allowing one to search wide range of items listed within the portal e.g. Amazon is a good example of an intranet portal. When a portal is said to be Extranet, it means that a user has limited access to information with no search capability. Your bank portal is a good example of an extranet portal since access to information is limited to your transaction with the bank and one cant see other bank customers or activities by the bank within the network as a whole. Also, a portal can be a gateway to the World Wide Web, that is, it is both a search engine and providing web applications services as well. Yahoo and Google are good examples, they are both a gateway to the entire World Wide Web but at the same time one needs to create an account in order to have access to other services like Email among others. Further, a web portal is a web-based platform and can be customized by the user, for instance one can create a profile according to ones preferences. Portals are usually designed to resemble a dashboard or a map. Primary, they are designed according to intended use and target users as well. The word portal come from the mediaeval Latin word Portale which means a city gate. The development of portals can be traced back to as early as the 1960s, even before the World Wide Web came into existence in 1992. Index Medicus was the first version of a portal developed by IBM for librarian for offline searches in the 60s. The inception of the internet in 1992 and the proliferation of web browsers were followed by the development of computer networks around 1997, also called the network age, and the word portal was a buzzword within the business community. Portals were so popular in business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumers (B2C) applications with many companies trying to build or acquire a portal to have a piece of the Internet market. Back then the use of portal was the only access point for the internet since search engines were not yet well developed. However, with the dot com bubble in early 2000, their popularity faded away and people started primarily to use search engines as a gateway to the internet. These day portals are typical more advanced. For instance, Yahoo and Google offer features such as online search engine capability, market updates, digital news, weather reports, discussion boards, email and online chat, business applications, etc. Simply put, modern portals are Internet gateway that serves as a starting point to access most of what the World Wide Web offers. Classification of Web-based Portals Web portals have evolved over the years and can be classified as: a) Horizontal portal They are also called mega-portals or horizontal enterprise portals. These ones are a specialized websites with search capabilities that provides users with the ability to see aggregated data links to several businesses within a specific economic sector. A horizontal portal removes the need for users to login to multiple websites in order to read, write or amalgamate information. For instance, Houzz is a specialized website and an online community about architecture, landscape design, and interior design. The Houzz online platform as well as the mobile apps features photos, articles, product recommendations, and a user forum. b) Vertical portal They are also called vortals and refers to an online platform that provides an entry point to content pertaining to a specific subject or niche market, for example, warehouse management, accounting, Human resource, health care ,or sports among others. For instance, if a programmer wants to master advanced programming, a vertical portal dedicated to computer science is the most appropriate choice. However, the subject focus of a portal could vary, but the format of content presented will be consistent. For instance, YouTube is a vertical portal that presents content from a range of subjects, but only in video formats. Also, companies can have a vertical portal in place that focuses on specific applications used by different department personnel for certain business functions like accounting or e-commerce. For example, an organization may provide a portal that enables suppliers to monitor order status details and other related information. c) Enterprise portal It is also referred to as an enterprise information portal or simply as a business portal and acts as an interface for presenting a companys information, both internal and external, from varied sources in a uniform manner or format. A business portal multi links to other portal that a company has such as employee portal, lean portal and corporate portals among others. A business portal presents data that is relevant to the companys line of business. The public access to information is limited and only authenticated staff have a broader access. It is usually filled with content which requires continuous update and maintenance. An enterprise portal is designed with the intent that they are user friendly to ensure ease and flexibility to a user while interacting with various departments. It also serves as a knowledge platform for all the relevant business enterprise stakeholders as well as an effective communication platform. d) Employee portal This a web portal specifically developed for a companys staff. Information presented in the portal may include policies by the HR department, paydays, job listings, benefits available and training, contact details of the HR team and a platform for employees to interact among themselves as well as with the management. Generally, an effective employees portal should provide room for employees to contribute contents the form of articles, comments, photos, videos to create a feeling of belonging and employees to know each other. Also, the portal can be customized to allow access through computer related devices such as smart phones and tablets and not limited to PC. e) Lean portal Companies that are not sure about which specific portal to have usually resort to a develop one that is primary built to help meet a companys unique requirements. Such portals do not necessarily contain a lot of content or features. Lean portals are lightweight and easy to set up and only serve what is essential. A lean portal is constantly evolving and improving as per the changes and developments within the company, and also considering what customers demand in terms of experience and service.
- f) Knowledge portal
This is a portal that aims to keep all company stakeholders updated on the latest happening within a company. Knowledge portals vary from one company to the other and even their layout. Apart from supporting knowledge creation, the portal can also present tools to assist in specific business processes. Moreover, different target groups or users have dedicated content workspaces within the knowledge portal. Information presented on such a portal could touch on projects undertaken by the company, target industry or market, notable employees as well as competitors among others.
- g) Corporate portal
Corporate portals are set up by organizations that have a sizable workforce and allow stakeholders to browse through company information and reports. A corporate portal can be developed as an intranet portal or incorporated with the companys secured public portal allowing employees to access their password-protected areas; whereas, suppliers and customers may enter their respective authorized login to access their respective sections on the portal. Corporate portals incorporates search capabilities are highly secured to ensure sensitive data is protected. There layout allows indexing of specific categories of data any various formats.
- h) Government portal
Most government websites are portals and typically requires login details in order for a citizen to request services from relevant government departments. Government portals all over the word have the .gov extension, for example australia.gov.au for Australia. The extension distinguishes government portals from other private portals owned by registered businesses as well as individuals.
- i) Cultural portal
Cultural portal provide an access point to content that would ordinarily not be indexed by a search engines. These are items that fall under the preview of the invisible web. Most of the digitized content by cultural portals are achieved contents such as maps, artworks, newspapers as well as archived websites among others. A good example of such a portal is which is overseen by the Europeana Foundation and based in the National Library of the Netherlands.
References for Internet Portal
Academic Research on Portal
The e-supply chain portal: a core business model, Boyson, S., Corsi, T., & Verbraeck, A. (2003). Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, 39(2), 175-192. The article supports the adoption of web portals and specifically the e-supply chain portal as a means to overcome challenges that plague many supply chains. The paper Argues that real-time support for end-to-end supply chain management is complex and calls for simplification of the entire process. E-government meets e-business: a portal site for startup companies in Switzerland, Schubert, P., & Hausler, U. (2001, January). In System Sciences, 2001. Proceedings of the 34th Annual Hawaii International Conference on (pp. 9-pp). IEEE. The paper gives a description of the relations between E-Business and E-Government and tries to expound about web portals and their adoptions by companies in Switzerland and their impact on the economic and socio-political environment. Internet searching and browsing in a multilingual world: An experiment on the Chinese Business Intelligence Portal (CBizPort), Chung, W., Zhang, Y., Huang, Z., Wang, G., Ong, T. H., & Chen, H. (2004). Journal of the American society for information science and technology, 55(9), 818-831. This study looks at the Chinese Business Intelligence Portal (CBizPort), a metasearch engine that searches for business information of mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong which was developed based on need for a portal with search capability apart from English. Multilingual web retrieval: An experiment on a multilingual business intelligence portal, Zhou, Y., Qin, J., Chen, H., & Nunamaker, J. F. (2005, January). Proceedings of the 38th Annual Hawaii International Conference on (pp. 43a-43a). IEEE. The paper evaluates reports on how a multilingual environment has influenced the use of portals in the business world for retrieving information. Modeling user satisfaction with an employee portal, Sugianto, L. F., & Tojib, D. R. (2006). International Journal of Business and Information, 1(2), 239-255. The paper reviews studies that look at the effectiveness and the satisfaction that comes with the adoption of employee web based portals. A framework for portal implementation: A case for Saudi organizations, Al-Mudimigh, A. S., Ullah, Z., & Alsubaie, T. A. (2011). International Journal of Information Management, 31(1), 38-43. The paper discusses the implementation of web portal by organizations and in particular by Saudi Arabian based business entities and the challenges that plaque the implementation process. A framework to develop an enterprise information portal for contract manufacturing, Chan, M. F., & Chung, W. W. (2002). International Journal of Production Economics, 75(1-2), 113-126.This paper discusses as well as proposes available frameworks for small business to avoid costly requirements to set up a portal by either leveraging on various e-business portals emerging over the Internet or to progressively make use of web-based platform to adopt new technologies that alter their business processes. Corporate portal: a tool for knowledge management synchronization, Benbya, H., Passiante, G., & Belbaly, N. A. (2004). International Journal of Information Management, 24(3), 201-220. The paper discusses the process of developing corporate portals as a tool for knowledge management synchronization, looks at challenges and present suggestions for successful implementation of the same. The impact of supporting organizational knowledge management through a corporate portal on employees and business processes, Al-Busaidi, K. A. (2010). International Journal of Knowledge Management (IJKM), 6(3), 44-64. The paper discusses the impact that corporate portals have on knowledge management by employees and the business process as a whole. The paper asserts that the impacts associated with corporate portals are generally positive in terms of employee learning and efficient business processes. Developing a portal to build a business community, Pliaskin, A., & Tatnall, A. (2005). (pp. 335-348). IGI Global. The paper looks at portals as the new gateway to internet information services and why businesses must consider developing one if they intend to build a strong business community.