CIO magazaine surveyed top CEOs and at the top of their wishlist is cost reduction through efficiency and increased staff productivity – doing more with less? Other top items from the wich list included innovation, creating competitive advantage and business growth. Typicall Portals are viewed as a tool for addressing the CEO wishlist. Specifics include using Portals for collaboration, knowledge capture and reuse, fostering invention through diverse team building and collaboration, social networking, communities of practice and busienss process streamlining – a means of connecting people, process, and information.
As Portals evolve into service frameworks (a software layer for consuming WebServices – think SOA) they will increasingly be viewed as the visible scaffolding for user interface, interaction management, and presentation integration.
Next generation Portals will aim for:
  • Activity management – there are so many devices (cell, PDAs etc…) tools and ways for communciating and getting work done that its become to complex for the average user. The Portal will evolve as a critical hub for users to manage diverse communication, information, and collaboration activities that are in a constant state of flux – always on, connected, extended and aware.
  • Process workplace – In the past, workflow applications were anchored around a transactional model that was stove-piped with other tools the user might require to complet their work. The Portal will evolve and leverage a multitude of metadata from a variety of sources such as process engines, identity services, repositories, and other profiling services (e.g., social networks) to discover, filter, register, prioritize, organize, and manage workspaces that support the business activities of users, teams, and communities.
  • Contextual integration – portals today rely on users being able to peice togther the various elements of data contained with communications, document management and collaboration tools. The Portal will evalove and its services will become an extension of the underlying application platform that includes process and identity management to more intelligently compose a user interface based on metadata (e.g., role), business rules, and user preferences pertaining to activities. Portals will also improve beyond thin-client scenarios to better support other user interaction models (e.g., smart/rich clients, mobile users, and offline users).

A prime example of this occuring is Microsofts Office 12 initiative, see my blog "What is a SuperPlatform".