Seeing Portals Clearly

With the dot-com business slowing down and the e-commerce wave long since crested, companies are now beginning to look at additional ways to leverage the Internet for competitive advantage. To be successful in IT recruiting, it is crucial that we understand this change and its associated technologies. Corporations are now redirecting their technical efforts to designing, developing and deploying enterprise portals. The term “portal” has been around for awhile, but only recently is it becoming a forerunner in corporate technology departments. So what does this mean? The enterprise portal is an information-oriented desktop, providing a single point for accessing all information and tools to be productive. Sites like Yahoo! capitalized on the concept early on. Now the enterprise portal takes this even further. Instead of opening a browser for the Internet and then switching back to the desktop for other actions and processes, through the enterprise portal, an individual can access a company portal to access vast amounts of information pulled from many places to do their jobs, saving time and increasing productivity. It’s a cross between the corner grocery store and a supermarket. While the experience can be personalized, there is also access to numerous resources. Taking this a step further, the enterprise portal provides a central point to store and access information that can be organized and viewed according to the users needs. Organizations can enable customers, partners, contractors and employees to access information through tailored views depending on a set of business rules. The significance is demonstrated by the fact that Forrester research predicts that businesses selling to other businesses (B2B) will account for $1.3 billion by the year 2003. Add to this the fact that Merrill Lynch predicts that portal software sales will reach nearly $15 million by the year 2002, and we begin to see the necessity in understanding the skills required by technical professionals. As recruiters, we need to begin to consider the overall business acumen of a candidate and the candidate’s ability to see how technology impacts the overall business. This is because portals enable the extension and leveraging of offline business assets and activities over the web. Some questions to ask these types of candidates during an interview include:

  • What were the business drivers for a project you’ve worked on?
  • How did your project impact the business? Monetarily? As a time saver?
  • Where do technology and business intersect?
  • What types of platforms have you integrated?

In addition, several key technologies have emerged have emerged to address the needs of the enterprise portal. The underlying theme for these technologies is accessibility and communication of information and data via the web, regardless of platform. Here are a few of the terms associated with these technologies that you need to become familiar with:

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  • J2EE ? Java 2 Enterprise Edition, from Sun, is a platform-independent, java-centric environment for developing, building, and deploying applications online. In many cases, Java Server Pages (JSP) is used to create the user interface; EJB, in the middle tier, is where the logic, or business application, is stored; and JDBC (Java Database Connectivity) is used to access databases on the backend.
  • .NET ? (pronounced dot net) From Microsoft, .NET leverages the standards HTTP, XML, SOAP, and UDDI, to create an enriched user experience by integrating access and interaction with data from any device, anytime, anywhere.
  • SOAP ? Simple Object Access Protocol enables applications to communicate via the web regardless of platform. SOAP relies on XML.
  • UDDI ? Universal Description Directory and Integration is a web-based distributed directory, that functions like the yellow pages, enabling businesses to list themselves and locate each other.

It becomes obvious from the above list that integration is key. While there is still a need for the traditional developer, architects will need to have much broader experience. They must understand how to integrate the desktop, the Internet and in-house enterprise application with personalized delivery. While portals have existed in many forms for years, recent trends and research show that the enterprise portal has emerged as the next wave in Internet technology. As a result, there has been an increased need for high-level, more experienced technical professionals. These individuals will not only need to be able to marry technology and business needs, they must also understand the integration of multiple types of systems. To compete successfully for these candidates, recruiters must have a solid understanding of the skills and experiences required for these positions. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*>

Kimberly Bedore ( is a consultant and public speaker who develops and implements staffing solutions for clients, resulting in increased efficiencies and significant cost savings. She uses her wide range of recruiting experience to provide companies with a wealth of information related to sourcing and sourcing strategies, recruitment training, and the implementation of solutions and metrics that enable a higher degree of staffing effectiveness.


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