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Portals, digital platforms and workspaces

Portals, digital platforms & workspaces are very commonly used terms today. In our view they provide a way of presenting tasks and information to people in a very efficient way and as such we are strong supporters.
We believe in organisations having multiple portals for different use cases, anywhere there are services to be explained, requested and delivered. Anywhere there is a disparate set of tools needing to be presented together to make it easier for people to use. All benefit from being brought under a common entry point and the use of forms and workflow to deliver these services results in better service delivery and more contented customers (internal or external).
Our view on how to build and deliver these portals starts with the basics of understanding your data model and your service definitions. Any attempt to move your organisation to a service based delivery model will fail without these two elements understood and documented.
The technology underpinning the portal or digital workspace then depends on the business you are in. We spend a large part of our time in the ICT infrastructure space where there already exists some very impressive big players delivering their infrastructure services through cloud portals (or management consoles as they call them) and we would advise organisations to take a look at these and consider how they present the services and the excellent UX they provide. Note though the significant development investment made by these companies and whether you have the means to commit such investment.
There are three ways to build your digital workspace –
1. Software development from scratch
2. Vendor out-of-the-box platform licensed per end point
3. Base digital platform customised to suit
Thoughts –
#1 – The most expensive of the three options, if the business case justifies it then this will provide the most dynamic and cool option available. Be careful though, your software development effort will be much more expensive than you think. Software Development never stops demanding money.
#2 – This should be the simplest and quickest to get up and running if the product exists. Here I am thinking about the products out there that enable you to resell basic virtual machines and storage (a standard IaaS play). The challenge here is where your services stray from the basic offerings and how you integrate your other offerings into this model.
#3 – This is our favourite (no surprise as we are partnered with a vendor of such a product). An out of the box product that has the base pieces of the puzzle; workflow, easy design configuration, integration capability & scripting extensibility plus a very affordable licensing model.
We will have more to say on portals and digital workspace and will blog more about them soon. We see them as the interface for people to a digitised automated world.

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