I mean really, we have these things called portals that are mostly transactional self service engines these days. But we at least realize there is potential for so much more. Instead of allowing employee and manager look-ups and transactions, we’ve been realizing that the portal can be the launching point for employer branding and communications, the knowledgebase, and even an integration engine for employee data.
Organizations have been using content management systems (CMS) for years. Indeed with blogs and RSS, HR has also started to see the value of publishing data in real time. Today’s portals have the ability to become full-on CMS systems that allow HR to control messaging on the portal home page to integrate with the EVP message as well as current events employees need to know about. Indeed with content management, employees may also be able to subscribe to content that is most meaningful to them, whether by business unit or by jobs.
The portal also has the technology capabilities to integrate with knowledge base applications. We have always known that driving employee inquiries to the web was the cheapest and most efficient way to handle employee questions. However, our portals often hosted simple and static FAQ pages that were not updated consistently. Today’s portals can integrate with your KM and knowledge base systems to ensure that the answers showing up on your portal are not only current, but also consistent with the answers your call center provides – after all, they are both getting the answers from the same source.
Perhaps the most interesting development in the portal is that of the integration engine. I’m not really talking about using a portal as a data warehouse, but we have been seeing total rewards statement and onboarding sites become prevalent in the last couple of years. Each of these should be integrated with the employee portal. The total rewards statements are a compilation of data from many sources and allow complex manipulation and modeling requiring the return of real time calculations. Onboarding on the other hand also takes data from many sources, but also disperses data throughout the organization.
While it’s definitely time to stop thinking about portals as transactional applications, it’s also time to stop thinking about CMS, knowledge base and some employee presented integration as separate components. Each of these should exist in a unified presentation layer.