Digital Transformation

Coolest Features of WebSphere Portal and WCM

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Most portals have a lot of functionality. When you take a portal like IBM’s WebSphere Portal, there is a huge amount of functionality both for use by the business people who manage the portal and by the people who make manage the “guts” of the thing.   You might only use a small portion of what a portal can do for you at any point in time.  Here’s my list of features I think are the coolest and/or most useful:

  1. Personalization engine Glenn Kline has a recent post on this and I agree with him. Four years ago companies rarely use this feature but as the need has evolved and as users have matured, I see the use of personalization skyrocketing.  I think WebSphere Portal has one of the best personalization engines on the market.
  2. WCM Projects.  IBM release WCM 7 in September 2010 and this is definitely one of the best new features.  It allows you to start making changes for an upcoming release without impacting the day to day operations of your site.  Delete an article in your project and it’s not shown in the rest of the site until you launch for example.
  3. Tagging/Rating/Searching of portlets and content. Mark Polly has a recent post on this as well. We must all think alike. One of my biggest beefs for a long time in the portal world was the fact that searches would find content but not applications. I cannot tell you the number of times I would go to a site and search for a specific functionality and get a press release.  With tagging and rating of content AND portlets, we can finally get past that.
  4. Impersonation.  One of the most common requests by anyone in customer service is to allow them to see the site as their customer would.   IBM gives you an impersonation framework to do this and do it securely.
  5. Step-up Authentication.  I’ve actually seen this used very little but I love the concept.  There is this idea that you can remember a user and personalize their experience. You can even let them search for secure content  but requie them to login once they try to read it.
  6. Web Analytics framework.  Without exception, all my clients now require web analytics on any site they launch.  They want a lot of information and a portal has a lot of events that happen at a sub page level.  WebSphere Portal’s analytics framework captures that and integrates to the big three: Omniture, WebTrends, and CoreMetrics.
  7. JSR 286.  So this is a nuts and bolts thing but this standard is key to creating a portlet and using it not just on your portal server.
  8. A bunch of cool new portlets in IBM’s business solutions catalog.  IBM has gotten into the very good habit of creating cool portlets for their industry templates and then posting those portlets in the catalog.  My favorites include the Checklist portlet, Universal Task List portlet, and the Account self Service Framework.
  9. The security model which includes delegated administration.  Again, this is nuts and bolts but IBM built for the long term when they created their security model that allows you to designate who does what at various levels of your portal.   It ranges from basic user to simple admin, to a person who can create pages but not define security, etc.
  10. Integration of WebSphere Portal and WCM which will drive a release management change.  I’ll have to blog more on this at some point in time.   Users typically don’t hate a content management system but how it interacts with the portal. IBM has made some changes and will continue to evolve both WebSphere Portal and WCM to completely integrate the two. This has implications that will force business users to take more responsibility for creating and launching not just content but portal pages.  Anyone familiar with how IT manages this today will realize just how big a change this is………for the better.
About the Author

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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