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How a Business Portal Can Help Your Company


Since the beginning of the digital era, the amount of data we produce has been growing constantly and exponentially. According to SG Analytics, every single day, people generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. Every report or database entry, every web page update, or a new tool description adds to this tremendous and unwieldy volume of data. Working businesses produce and process tons of data, all of which must be structured and stored for easy retrieval. Software developers create tools to help keep this ever-growing mass of data in order and at hand. Recently, many tools have come under the umbrella of business portals. So what is a business portal?

What is a Business Portal?

What is a Business Portal? Image by Nimbus Platform

A business portal, sometimes referred to as a corporate or enterprise portal, is a web-based platform that brings together all of a company’s stakeholders, from employees and managers to partners and customers. Such platforms host and facilitate all aspects of a company’s activity. Document management and project management, staff support and customer relations, data analysis, communication, and collaboration – all these indispensable parts of any business are gathered into one central hub, a business portal.

The Purpose of Corporate Portals

While the main purpose of a business portal is to provide a centralized web platform for each person involved in a business, there are a few specific needs it is called to meet:

Enhancing access to information

A knowledge database or an interactive handbook, which may be a part of your business portal, saves time for everyone involved in your business processes. Customers may receive answers to their questions without having to contact helpdesk employees, while employees get clear instructions about systems and workflows. A CRM (customer relationship management software) allows your staff to personalize customer interaction and thus increase customer loyalty and, in the end, your sales. By granting different access rights, you can guarantee each stakeholder has all the information they need – and only the information they need.

Automating business processes

Business portals can automate many elements of your workflow, for example, task assignments, approvals, data entry, data exchange through integrated applications, and reporting and analytics. Employees get dashboards that streamline routine tasks, track task completion, and create reports quickly and easily, while self-service portals enable customers to place and track their orders.

Increasing engagement

By providing communication tools and shared resources, a corporate web portal enables all stakeholders to connect easily across multiple channels, including their mobile devices. Employees can share information, brainstorm, and collaborate on projects, while customers can get updates and recommendations and manage their orders. Meanwhile, suppliers and partners can receive performance metrics and see product information, pricing, and delivery schedules. Some portals include gamification techniques, providing rewards, and motivating stakeholders to participate. The collaboration tools that a business portal provides contribute to stakeholder engagement and overall satisfaction when dealing with your business.

Some of these objectives are met with a client portal. However, a business portal differs in the audience, content, and tasks solved. In addition to engaging and informing external stakeholders, a business portal caters to internal stakeholders, like employees and suppliers.

Typical Features of a Business Web Portal

According to Forbes, easy messaging about new opportunities, personalization, conversational assistants or chatbots, and omnichannel capabilities are among the top must-have features of a competitive business website – and they are exactly what business web portals ensure. There are also many more features that a corporate web portal can offer your business, which depends greatly on the industry and the specific needs of a business, but the main ones are:

Collaboration tools: instant messaging, chatbots, shared calendars and scheduling, software for video conferencing, and interactive digital whiteboards.

  1. Collaboration tools: instant messaging, chatbots, shared calendars and scheduling, software for video conferencing, and interactive digital whiteboards.
  2. Document and content management: a system that allows all authorized users to create various types of content, as well as save, structure, and share documents, such as contracts, proposals, reports, invoices, etc.
What is a Business Portal. Image by Nimbus Platform
  1. Access to integrated enterprise applications: customer relationship management software, HR management tools, resource planning tools, and whatever else businesses are using, all under one roof.
  1. Reporting and analytics: instruments that provide companies with insights into customer behavior, performance indicators, and various metrics for making data-driven decisions.
  1. Security and access control: tools to ensure that any sensitive data is protected and certain users can only access resources intended for them.
  1. Personalization and branding: these business portal features allow the company to promote its corporate identity and enable portal users to get a personalized experience through setting preferences.

Let’s compare a business portal for a small retailer with a portal for a large production company. Each player needs a set of features to support their core business functions. For a small retail company, a business portal may include a product catalog, a CRM tool, inventory management, order management (possibly, with self-service options), payment processing, a reporting dashboard, and marketing and promotion tools to run targeted advertising campaigns. A major production company will, on the other hand, benefit from adding tools for supply chain management, asset and finance management, for monitoring production processes, quality control, and business intelligence. The feature set a specific company’s web portal should include varies depending on the complexity of its business processes.

Types of Corporate Portals

Business portals may be of a few different kinds, aiming at different categories of stakeholders:

  • Employee portals are designed for internal use and make important company information accessible to its staff, from newcomers and support staff to project managers and department heads. Such information may include training materials, HR guidelines and policies, software and hardware manuals, a direct connection to a knowledge base, etc. They make routines such as expense submissions, staff time tracking, requesting vacation days, and team meeting scheduling easy and hassle-free. Such web portals connect all users within an organization and help maintain a more efficient workflow.
  • Customer portals are aimed at better customer interaction. Web portals of this kind provide a business’s clients with relevant information about products, current promotions and events, offer self-service order placement and payment management and help firms obtain feedback and act on it. Instead of looking for necessary links on search engines or other external sites, your customers stay on your web portal for all interactions with your business.
  • Partner portals, or supplier portals, are created for vendors, suppliers, and distributors. They connect existing partners and provide access to important business information, for example, product specifications and manuals, pricing and inventories, invoicing and payment tools, joint investment and marketing campaigns, and so on.

Based on the focus, audience, and content, it’s possible to differentiate between vertical portals and horizontal portals. Vertical portals are industry-specific and serve a certain niche or industry. They are limited to professionals within this industry and contain news, research, and solutions that may be too deep for a broader audience. Horizontal business portals, on the other hand, are not as restricted and cater to a broader audience and provide resources and services that can be used across a whole range of industries without being too tailored.

Benefits Brought by Web Portals

Properly set up web portals bring companies a lot of advantages:

1. Improved communication and collaboration across the company departments, as well as with external users, for higher productivity and deeper engagement.

Streamlined Communication. Image by Nimbus Platform

2. Increased efficiency through streamlining and automating business processes and systems, structuring data in a logical way, eliminating the human factor from routine tasks, thus saving money and enabling firms to stay within a project budget, ensuring a good return on investment.

3. Better decision-making, which becomes possible thanks to real-time analytics technology, reporting and forecasting.

4. Higher security is provided with access controls, encryption, and other data protection features.

5. Enhanced user experience and support, where a business portal can provide customers with access to up-to-date information on the company’s products and services and maintain good customer relationships without getting tired or needing vacation days while making feedback collection and processing easy and timely.

Challenges When Implementing a Business Portal

Despite the indisputable advantages of business portals, there are a few challenges you may face when choosing and implementing your own web portal:

Choosing the right platform

There are dozens of business portal platforms available, from giants like the Zoho Office Suite or Microsoft Dynamics 365 product lines, to the smaller but no less worthwhile FuseBase (formerly Nimbus) or Liferay. Picking the one that fits your business, offers an easy-to-use interface, and saves your time and money may be tricky.

Customization and maintenance

While the ability to customize the portal to suit your business needs is definitely a plus, actually doing it may be time-consuming. Maintenance and support may require specialized skills and technology expertise, including front-end software development.

Integration

A business portal is intended to integrate with other applications and software businesses are using, but ensuring all the right integrations and making them seamless may be an additional pain, especially if additional hardware is needed to create the proper gateway.

Security

Business portals normally provide robust security features, but your staff need training, both on compliance with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and on handling sensitive user data on your site and all portal pages.

User adoption and support

All users – employees, customers and partners – must be encouraged to use your portal, which they may resist if they are accustomed to other systems.

Conclusion

According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the global market for business portals is growing – from $7.3 bln in 2018 to $9.8 bln in 2023 and is expected to keep growing to up to $30.12 bln by 2030, with CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 12.14%. This means companies worldwide understand the advantages a business portal offers.

You now know the answer to the question of “What is a business portal?” but are still unsure of whether such web gateway can benefit your business? Try one in action. FuseBase (formerly Nimbus) provides powerful tools for seamless and effective collaboration between all of your stakeholders. Client portals, knowledge bases, shared documents and services, intranets, and project management – all the vital instruments and technology can become the very engine that will drive your business forward!

Achieve successful business results with FuseBase!

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