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Jim Howard Posted by Jim Howard March 17, 2014

Improving Portal Digital Experiences Through Personalization

Everywhere customers go on, they can expect the same login process to be intuitive and work everytime. Whether they’re buying, browsing, checking delivery status or viewing past purchases, Amazon delivers on that expectation while also providing an engaging personalized experience, tailored to each individual user. 

Large enterprise organizations should strive to achieve the same level of personalization across their web properties. However, the way portals—often tied to legacy systems—interface with digital content delivery presents a big problem.

Historically, portals empowered end-users to access self-help and ecommerce functions that were previously IT-only territory. The word itself—“portal”—describes the ability to peer in at and touch web-based functions and data from legacy systems (for example, CRM, ERP and LOB). Today everybody takes it for granted, but IT departments have done a tremendous amount of work to enable people to do things like manage their own portfolios, buy their own products, and see data about their particular collection of products they bought, own, or are working with a company on.

The most famous portal technologies that have enabled these functions include IBM WebSphere, Microsoft SharePoint, various Oracle properties, e-commerce technologies like ATG, stand-alone portals like Liferay, and many more. Each has some kind of web content management (WCM) component built in, meaning non-technical users have interfaces where they can update the content used in that portal as well as configure the look-and-feel of the display. However, it is very difficult to keep portals up-to-date in terms of aesthetics, functionality, branding, messaging and marketing. That’s caused a series of big challenges:

1) Too many portals, not enough consistency

At large companies, portals are owned by various groups without a unified direction over look-and-feel, content or content sharing across each portal.

2) High expectations for mobile functionality

With the increase in mobile usage, users expect their portals to work on all their devices. But it’s been a challenge to rewrite every element of these interfaces to work across every different mobile device.

3) Trapped untapped data

Portals’ access to data is limited by multiple legacy systems. There’s a lot of divided data that, if handled the right way, could be unlocked to offer robust personalization. For example, we know more than “this user is John Smith”. We actually know that “this user is John Smith, who bought Product A from us but not Product B." That way, we can test different promotions of Product B to people like John Smith and see which one converts the best. By connecting the dots, this data presents multiple possibilities for further personalization of the experience in the portal.

It’s all about looking to improve the lifetime value of the customer through all these different interactions with the organization.

At Crownpeak, we’re tackling these portal challenges with innovation.

Our most notable solution to these challenges is our unique decoupled software architecture that separates the interfaces for digital experience creation and delivery. This allows for flexible digital experiences that can be easily delivered to Crownpeak-hosted environments or other hosted environments like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, IBM Websphere portals, Microsoft SharePoint portals and Liferay portals.

By doing this, organizations can maintain the look-and-feel of the experience, include personalized and relevant content, and present the customer with cross-sell and upsell opportunities across divisions by using data from many sources in that organization to provide higher lifetime customer value.

Crownpeak places an easy, lightweight digital experience layer on top of portals, so instead of having to redesign anywhere from five to 50 separate enterprise portal environments, organizations can utilize just one method to ensure that each portal experience is personalized, localized, device-specific, and relevant to the customer.