Straight talk on portals II: Is the portal market dead?

November 16, 2006 at 10:29 am | Posted in portals | Leave a comment

Is the portal market dead? Ooh, how I hate that question!  Not that I think they are or aren’t dead – I’ll get to that in the next paragraph.  It’s just the wrong question for someone who needs to develop contextualilzed, dynamic websites.  It’s easy to get attention by getting up on stage and saying that whatever hot technology everyone cares about “is dead”.  At some point wikis and blogs will evolve or be joined by a new technology that is more able at some subset of what they do and someone will solemnly state that those markets are dead too.  Don’t believe it.

The portal concept is evolving – it is being subsumed into lower levels of infrastructure along with many other collaboration and communication functions.  Portals are evolving into composite applications.  Portals aren’t the only way to create composite applications (Business Process Management and SOA Application Development tools come to mind too), but they are a very effective way that requires very little metadata compared to those other methods.

I don’t believe people will be throwing the word “portal” around much in 3-5 years from now.  But the concepts will remain valid – dynamic assembly of websites, a screen real-estate metaphor that combines widgets in a role-based or personalized manner, and contextual selection of the small subset of information relevant to the user from a wide array of integrated information sources.  Even without the words, 10 years from now if you show a new web site pilot to a client that forces a wide array of different user types to all view the same static website and hunt for the 2% of its information that is relevant, the client will point to another portalized website and ask why you can’t make it look like that.  Enterprise portal implementers should continue to focus on core portal concepts using the best practices and products that best fit the class of project they are doing now and plan to do in the future. 

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