Portals vs Digital Experience Platforms

  • 26-Feb-2016

I see Enterprise Portal platforms deployed in wide range of scenarios -- including for use-cases where Portal technology may not be the best option.

During a recent RSG webinar, "When You Should - or Shouldn't - Use Enterprise Portal Technology,” I fielded many questions related to using Portal platforms for large-scale implementations such as your digital workplace or other more complex scenarios.

Where are Portals best suited?

The following screenshot from the webinar lists the key features for which Portal tools should be considered.

When to use Portal tools?


Where things get more complicated is that Portal technology platforms also typically offer lightweight functionality in a variety of other areas.  For example, all Portal tools provide some subset of features for document management, collaboration, web content management, and even light asset management. However, field experience suggests that those features are suitable only for relatively simplistic scenarios.

Portal as Digital Experience Management Platform?

Digital Experience Management is usually cross-organizational and involves supporting user journeys across different scenarios. For example, in a telco's self-service site, a customer might see her account information via your Portal, but the user information could be stored in a CRM, and information about different campaigns could come from your Web CMS. Now you could of course manage all this data and rules (user information as well as campaigns) in your Portal, because your Portal probably provides basic capabilities here. But what happens when another system, say a back-end billing system, requires the same user information or you want to run the same campaign on a partner website or from a separate mobile Portal?

From "Portal Vs Others” to “Portal and Others”

For scenarios like the one I just mentioned, Portal technology can serve as a useful component of your Digital Experience strategy, but you will almost always end up with multiple types of tools. In fact, in advisory sessions with RSG subscribers we often end up recommending using multiple platforms that are fit for purpose. Most often, a “Portal Vs WCM” (or “Portal Vs DM") debate changes to “Portal and WCM (and DM)”.

Just remember that you will almost always see some degree of overlapping functionality across multiple types of tools (e.g., image management both in Portals and DAM tools) and so you need to address the key architectural question of which service do you apply at which layer. In the webinar (and across our research) we apply some guidelines to help you make good decisions here. In any case, you'll want to consider this carefully at the beginning of your strategy, since it’s not always trivial to change course once you start a major implementation.

Besides recorded webinars, RSG offers other resources and reference models that can help you make good decisions. If you are subscriber, you can download them anytime or schedule an advisory session with me or my colleagues.

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