Despite the way it seems the lean portal didn’t magically appear overnight. It evolved for two reasons: Specifically because there was a very real need for a new approach that could meet the needs of businesses and their customers, and generally because the technological innovations emerging were quickly outpacing the capabilities of traditional models.
It’s difficult to say which driver was the more powerful, but certainly a few forward-thinking enterprises changed the way customers interacted with the web forever. Technological advancements in software development created a more level playing field. It was no longer necessary to have endless resources at your disposal to create, distribute and implement a product. Vendors that had been around longer tried to keep up with customer’s expectations by adding-on more and more features, without ever going back the drawing board. As a result their products became complicated and complex. Eventually they had to repackage their offerings as ‘suite’s rather than portals.
Enterprises had their own legacy systems to deal with and were looking for ways to simplify their operations, not add yet more complications and unwanted features. Micha Rentier, Director of Internet and Mobile at ABN AMRO, captured the general mood perfectly when he said “We want to have a portal, not a whole suite where we don’t use 90% of the features but get 90% more trouble.” The word was out; too many businesses had been too badly burned trying to implement bloated portals that were still unusable years into a project.
In the meantime, the internet grew up and consumers began demanding rich, responsive and seamless experiences. Innovators quickly saw that the same principles that were being applied online using a ‘standards-based widget approach supporting representational state transfer (REST – more on this later)’, as noted by Gartner in their 2009 report The Great Portal Divide, could be used to tailor portals to suit business owners needs while meeting their customers’ expectations.
Today, the lean portal is really the only choice that is synonymous with what businesses mean when they say they ‘just want a portal’. It is a platform that supports their need for a secure environment that includes and aggregates different applications, offers customization, personalization and a great experience that can be managed by the digital marketing team without draining IT resources.
There is no doubt that we are living in an era of rapid technological change driven by consumer needs. How successful an enterprise will be is largely determined by how well they are able to meet customer expectations online, no matter what device the customer is using. Customers who have a seamless, unified and successful encounter are more likely to return to repeat the experience. Those who take it a step further and deliver an experience that allows customers to fully engage with a brand via a portal that is both personal and relevant to them are likely to turn consumers into brand advocates – just look at the reputations that online brands like Amazon and Zappos have been able to establish by putting their customers first.
Lean portals are incredibly flexible because they rely on web-based technologies, which deliver the experience customers want. A web-based approach positively affects operations across a number of levels from investment in development resources to scalability and overall system flexibility and maintenance, which why lean portals are the first choice for enterprises that want to stay ahead of the competition online.
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