The role of portals in the digital workplace

Whatever happened to enterprise portals? They were supposed to be the future of work. Tech companies clamored to provide the next big portal, and corporations made heavy investments in the technology.

Somewhere along the way, however, the concept fizzled out. Microsoft stopped using the term in 2010, and other vendors followed suit. Portals, which included self-contained portlets, took on an archaic cast.

But they never actually disappeared. Though the word has fallen out of use over the past decade, the portal is still alive and well in most organizations. In fact, in the digital workplace it plays a more critical role than ever.

A gateway to the digital workplace

Today’s organizations use a staggering array of systems, applications, and tools. One survey found that companies employ, on average, more than 500 different applications.

At the same time, employees use a variety of different devices to complete their work. With remote work more than doubling between 2005 and 2015 and nearly half of employees working remotely at least part of the time, today’s workforce expects to be able to work on any device, be it a laptop, smartphone, or tablet. In fact, many employees switch between devices throughout the workday even when they are at the office, with three in four workers using at least two and more than half using three or more.

Welcome to the digital workplace, which Prescient Digital Media’s former managing partner Michael Rudnick defines as “how people get work done these days—using the sum total of all digital tools used in the workplace, including the intranet, enterprise portals, team sites, email, CRM, ERP, and any other acronym relating to the digital environment.”

Just as the term suggests, an enterprise portal serves as a gateway to the digital workplace, which encompasses most, if not all, of the tools and information an organization uses. For years, company intranets have attempted to fill this role, in order to provide a digital hub where employees can access all of their information and find links to their applications. But most intranets remained static, serving as little more than an internal website or an employee home page.

As work becomes increasingly digitized, companies have begun to recognize the need for an employee portal, prompting many to dust off their old, stagnant intranets. In a joint study between Sapho and IDG Research, 87 percent of business leaders said they plan to expand or upgrade their intranets in the near future.

How enterprise portals are changing

While portals and intranets are coming back into fashion, they’re also evolving as employee needs change. The old intranet model of a one-way information hub is no longer sufficient to meet the demands of the digital workplace.

Sapho Employee Experience Portal is reinventing the enterprise portal and helping companies modernize their employee intranet by:

  • Providing an all-in-one platform for communication and collaboration.
  • Personalizing data and work tasks for each employee.
  • Making task completion easy inside the portal, without requiring logins to additional apps
  • Delivering information on any channel and any device.

“The average person uses 32 different point solutions,” says Sapho co-founder and CEO Fouad ElNaggar. “A more modern portal is about creating a more consistent, harmonious experience which is broken up into little tasks. As people are realizing the insanity of using 32 different point solutions to do their job, the modern portal is inevitable.”

Instead of visiting an internal website to search for information and link out to external tools, employees who log into Sapho Employee Experience Portal get personalized tasks and updates delivered to whatever device, intranet, or messenger client they’re already using. This enables them to connect to all of their business systems and complete tasks in one place, without having to navigate multiple platforms or transfer information from one place to another—all while enjoying a consistent, seamless experience.

As the digital workplace continues to take shape and work becomes more flexible, the employee experience portal will play a pivotal role in connecting workers to the information and tools they need, regardless of where they are working or what device they’re using. When employees “go to work” in the morning, the employee portal will serve as their gateway and digital hub to the digital workplace.

Topic: Digital workplace

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