Why Many Enterprise Portals Fail and How to Avoid the Pitfalls
While enterprise portals have been around for years, in the age of high-speed connectivity and cloud-based computing, they’re becoming increasingly ubiquitous. And while such portals or “intranets” are designed to simplify how employees, customers and suppliers access the various parts of a company’s systems, they’re often too complicated to navigate.
The end goal of an enterprise portal is to provide a customized solution to a specific company, ensuring that doing business with them is safe, secure and easy. These objectives however, are often not achieved due to three common but well-intentioned mistakes.
- The focus is on channels, but not the customer journey
Companies have a great understanding of each individual channel that makes up the overall enterprise portal, but they don’t understand the journey of how they all tie together from start to finish. They understand, for example, the traditional networking infrastructure of router, switch and firewall, but they don’t know how they work together in a virtual network – or rather, they understand it but don’t focus on it.
What’s important is to understand how traffic will travel over the network. In an enterprise portal, a lot of the traffic needs to flow between the various virtual machines. This east-west traffic, as it’s known, isn’t easy for the portal to track. The portal must therefore be designed with this invisible traffic in mind. In other words, companies mustn’t try to solve individual “issues” as they would in a traditional network of physical devices. Rather, they should focus on supporting the user journey throughout the portal. This requires them to design and construct a network that provides an easy journey from start to finish
- The focus is on tasks but not user goals
For any project to succeed, it’s essential that each stakeholder understands their role and how they fit into the bigger picture. But this is where communication is often lacking, which can lead to enterprise portals falling apart. According to a Concepta survey, 45 percent of IT team leaders don’t understand their project’s business objectives. This means that while they might understand the specific task they’ve been assigned, they don’t understand how it fits into the broader picture.
This is a problem because if IT doesn’t clearly understand the goal of the enterprise portal they’ve been asked to design, the result could be something that either fails to meet the company’s expectations or lacks alignment with corporate strategy – or both.
An example could be corporate management issuing IT with a general requirement to minimize security threats to the network using artificial intelligence to predict and react to threats in real time. While that’s a noble goal, it lacks clear objectives. It also increases the risk of valuable resources being wasted on a system that doesn’t meet the required standards (e.g. using AI in a way the company didn’t want, making the enterprise portal too clunky or slow, or using an outside vendor the company didn’t want to use).
For projects as large as building an enterprise portal, the imperative is therefore to define in greater detail what the specific tasks are in order to create the desired overall outcome.
- The focus is on silos instead of connected, end-to-end service
An enterprise portal is like an orchestra. Each player in every section plays his or her part separately, but when they do it together and in synch, the end result can be truly magical. Enterprise portals are similar: While separate systems fulfil separate roles, they must work in unison to produce a final product that flows like a seamless piece of music.
With the above in mind, ensuring an enterprise portal is secure and reliable comes down to three basic elements:
- The physical layer that is made up of the networking, management systems and hardware
- The network zones made up of virtual firewalls and network segmentation functions
- Carrier application security, comprising virtualized functions that applications use, such as software-defined networking controllers that are placed within security zones.
This is where many enterprise portals fail. To create a seamless end-to-end service, enterprises must focus on how every small part connects to the whole from start to finish. If you can take this as a starting point, you’ll be far better positioned to ensure your enterprise portal delivers the value you need to truly achieve your business objectives.
Want to learn more about enterprise portals? Watch this video from Heavy Reading to find out why and how service providers are digitalizing enterprise self-service.
About the author: Joe Dyer is Director of Experience Strategy & Insight, projekt202