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Digital Transformation

Can Social Networking Software Replace Traditional Portals?

So I’ve been asked twice in the last week about “traditional” portal technology vs social networking software like Lotus Connections, Jive, Wikis, etc.  It’s usually in the context of, what if I just used this cool social networking software for my employee intranet?  My quick answer is that yes, you might be able to do that.  I would think that a majority content, knowledge, and other needs on an intranet could be met by wikis, blogs, profile,  communities, tags, tag clouds, social bookmarking, etc.  As a matter of fact, the more unified tools like Connections bind them all together and let you do a unified search which can be really powerful.  So if your main focus is on knowledge sharing and on finding people, then let it become your intranet.  Most of these technologies even support integrations to Google Gadgets, flakes, widgets, etc.  You can add simple/non-enterprise functionality pretty quickly.

However, if you need formal communications, a managed taxonomy, a more professional presentation, or transaction and process heavy functionality, then you are still going to use a portal.  Widgets probably won’t cut it for heavy volume, complex business rules, etc.  Wikis won’t cut it where a template based content management system makes a more formal and professional presentation.  What I see in the portal world is the inclusion of a lot of web 2.0 functionality.  If it’s not included in the product, the vendors are at least making sure you can incorporate it.  Portal is an aggregation technology after all.

The reality, is that most larger companies need both and will need to figure out how to make both social collaboration and portal tools work together. The good news is that the vendors are getting that message and you can push or consume services from either type of technology rather easily. At least our client based POC’s are proving that to be the case.

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Michael Porter

Mike Porter leads the Strategic Advisors team for Perficient. He has more than 21 years of experience helping organizations with technology and digital transformation, specifically around solving business problems related to CRM and data.

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