Outstanding Examples of Corporate
and e-Business Portals
Portal Excellence Awards
AUSTRALIA – April 9, 2001: There
has been great interest in the emerging field of Corporate Portals. Also called
Enterprise Portals or Enterprise Information Portals, a recent prediction
estimated that as many as 80% of the Global 2000 enterprises will use Corporate
Portals by the end of 2001 (Meta Group). Whether this aggressive forecast is
actually achieved or not, there is definitely much happening in this area. This
issue of TEN discusses the Portal Excellence Awards, which highlight the
business benefits of this technology.
TEN - The Enterprise Newsletter
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Consulting Institute (DCI), Imaging and Document Solutions, and Intelligent
Enterprise Magazine sponsor the Annual Portal Excellence Awards. These awards
recognize customer portal solutions that provide significant and measurable
business benefits, and that make innovative use of portal technology. DCI
announced the Annual Portal Excellence Award winners at DCI’s Corporate and
e-Business Portals Conference in San Francisco on January 24, 2001. Awards were
presented in two categories:
Corporate Portal: An internal corporate portal
supports informed decision making by providing internal business users with a
personalized and efficient Web interface to business content managed by intranet
Web servers, business intelligence systems, office and document management
systems, and front- and back-office applications.
Best e-Business Portal: An
e-business portal enables an organization to optimize its business operations
and business relationships by allowing external trading partners, key clients,
and business users to collaborate and share business content via a personalized
Many submissions were
received in each category. Judging was done in two phases. In the first phase,
all submissions were scored on:
Benefits and ROI
Use of Portal Technology
The three entries in each award
category that achieved the highest scores became finalists. The winner in each
category was then selected from these finalists in the second phase.
And the winners (with
their Portal software suppliers) are …
Internal Corporate Portal: Ford
Motor Company (Plumtree Portal)
e-Business Portal: Herman Miller
We will discuss the Ford portal
in the next issue of TEN (due July). We discuss the Herman Miller portal in this
issue. The following submission that was entered by Herman Miller and TopTier
for the DCI Portal Awards speaks for itself.
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Herman Miller does most of its business selling high-end, pre-assembled office
furniture. With a global presence in over 40 countries, and nearly $2 billion in
revenue during fiscal 2000, Herman Miller has been working with TopTier's
e-Business Integration Portal for the past 18 months as an integral component of
an aggressive five-year plan to double the revenue of its business. By
streamlining operations and compressing time-to-market, Herman Miller plans on
doubling its throughput without the need for additional material planners,
trucks or square foot of warehouse space.
In order to accomplish this,
Herman Miller has deployed TopTier Software's e-Business Integration Portal to
create an industry first: a truly virtual value-chain called MySIGN (Supplier
Information Global Network). The portal serves as a personal webtop, providing
every party throughout the company's value chain with real-time information from
the enterprise's ERP applications and databases. This sharing of information
will give Herman Miller and their suppliers a competitive advantage, helping
them stay “in sync” with customer demands, changes to internal schedules,
and inter-company receipts and payments.
In partnering with TopTier in
the creation of MySIGN, Herman Miller is aggressively increasing their speed and
reliability in supporting this streamlined supplier relationship.
Because most of the company's raw materials come from 600 suppliers
around the world, it desperately needed to streamline communications and payment
procedures with them. This best-in-class virtual value chain is closing the loop
between demand forecasting and supplier-managed inventory by creating an online
supplier source for up-to-date information on demand, supply, exception orders,
invoices, delivery schedules and lag times - all of this critical business
intelligence synchronized on one computer screen.
In choosing a portal solution,
Herman Miller looked for a forward-thinking, easy-to-implement solution that
would allow the organization to increase efficiency and reduce lead times, while
at the same time increase reliability and improve customer and supplier
relationships across the enterprise. They needed to eliminate the waste in
communicating with their suppliers, but they had been unsuccessful in the past
at getting widespread adoption of EDI because many of their suppliers lacked the
technical sophistication or the resources.
Herman Miller had two main
requirements in building the portal. One was to have two-way communication …
back-and-forth collaboration with suppliers. The second was to give suppliers a
real-time look at Herman Miller’s business. The portal was designed to help
suppliers in two areas: on the financial side, suppliers can look at prices to
make sure they’re in sync, as well as invoices; on the planning side,
suppliers can look at Herman Miller’s manufacturing lead times and engineering
data like materials requirements, drawings and revision letters.
Some people at Herman Miller
were afraid suppliers would feel like the company was putting the burden on the
suppliers. However, the reception has been very positive, since the benefits for
suppliers more than make up for any burden. In the past suppliers had to make
decisions based on very limited information, so they were often making
assumptions in shipping materials. The portal eliminates the need to call three
people at Herman Miller to get information, which is a big time-saver. The
portal has shifted the old purchasing model of “The more information you had
and the less your supplier had, the more power you had” to an
information-sharing focus, which has been beneficial to all parties involved.
Kelly Nelson, customer
service/scheduling representative for Milwaukee-based Mid-States Aluminum, one
of Herman Miller's suppliers, says that before using the portal, Mid-States was
sending Herman Miller four or five inaccurate deliveries per month (i.e.,
shipping the wrong parts). But in the 18 months it's been using the portal, 95
percent of its deliveries to Herman Miller have been accurate. "We're much
better able to plan our machinery and our people," Nelson says, adding that
the portal has also helped Mid-States cut inaccurate billing by "at least
70 percent." In this way, Herman Miller has become a much more valuable
(read "profitable") customer to Mid-States
From the senior executives on
down, Herman Miller has decided they will connect their suppliers and customers.
Everything tied in to that corporate strategy, and the company has made a
commitment to doing so. Over the past five years, Herman Miller has invested
heavily in technologies to improve internal and external business processes.
These investments, which include deploying the portal, have enabled them
to bring their reliability from 75 percent to more than 95 percent in on-time
Currently, Herman Miller
has over 500 internal and external users actively employing the portal and it is
anticipated that usage will double in the next 12 months. Internally, portal
users include personnel in various roles such as supply management personnel,
material planners and quality engineers. Suppliers also utilize the portal and
users are found in multiple departments, such as management, customer service,
scheduling, quality assurance and finance.
Herman Miller’s portal
went live in September 1999, and took three months to develop. Herman Miller
chose to take a phased approach to the implementation and gradually implemented
new functionality, so while the portal was initially only introduced to
employees it has since been extended beyond the enterprise to suppliers. While
the portal has been developed and maintained by a group of employees who work on
multiple projects, the time they spend on the portal is the equivalent of one
full time employee.
The technology and architecture
of the portal solution are discussed next, in the areas of personalization,
categorization, searching, security, and open architecture.
The TopTier Portal provides users with a single, consistent and easy-to-use
interface to all their enterprise applications.
Based on their authorizations, users can select what to display, control
thresholds for automatic notification, change order, and customize look and
Personal Style Settings:
"The only designed Portal on the market", TopTier Portal lets
end-users easily configure its look and feel to better fit in their corporate
Add a document to the Portal with its built-in submission tools, get it
approved, and your workgroup will be able to access it
TopTier’s TrueSearch allows users to search by concept, rather than only by
pure boolean logic.
Multiple File Types Support:
TrueSearch supports over 150 file formats, including Microsoft Office, Exchange,
Lotus Notes, Adobe Acrobat, and many others
TrueSearch automatically highlights the terms searched for in the search
With TrueSearch, TopTier Portal 4.0 offers true federated searching. This means
users can search their own Portal, Portals from other departments, and the Web.
Support for major
search engines: TopTier offers adaptors for most major
web search engines, as well as Microsoft Exchange, Lotus, and many others
Directory): Users can look for documents
by browsing a directory, or taxonomy, that is categorized by subject.
The Portal automatically categorizes any document into the taxonomy,
dramatically saving time for its administrators.
TopTier’s categorization technology allows administrators to schedule content
grabbing from websites they're interested in, ensuring the Portal is
Support for dozens of
applications: TopTier’s application
components - called “iViews” - provide extensive and deep content for
today’s leading enterprise applications. Over 500 iViews provide access and
integration with Web sources.
With TopTier's exclusive Content Configurator, an industry focus, role, and
applications can be chosen. Within one click, dozens of relevant iViews are then
elements: iViews automatically alert users to events
they need to know about.
Single Sign On:
No matter how many applications the Portal accesses, users only have to sign on
once. TopTier Portal 4.0 automatically signs users to their applications.
TopTier Portal 4.0 offers full User Mapping, allowing administrators to map
groups of users in the Portal to different security profiles in accessible
Support for Existing
Enterprise Security Systems: TopTier
Portal 4.0 automatically authenticates users against Windows NT & LDAP based
TopTier Portal 4.0 fully supports the Secure Sockets Layer, allowing customers
and partners to access the portal via industry-standard encryption protocol.
Item Level Security:
Item-level security is in effect throughout the system, ensuring that end-users
can view only what they are allowed to.
Robust Editing Tools:
TopTier Portal and its application component iViews are based on open standards,
Portal 4.0 makes projecting content to business partners easy, with its built-in
Extensions and Web
Navigator: The Web Navigator allows
developers to quickly integrate any legacy application or relational database
into the Portal.
Drag & Relate between
Applications: TopTier's patented “Drag
& Relate” navigation lets end-users easily "surf" from one
application to another.
TopTier Web Components allow users to start B2B transactions right from their
TopTier’s portal solution
features the company’s patented HyperRelational ™ technology, which allows
users to access, interconnect, update, edit and delete information from multiple
software applications and data sources through a simple Drag and Relate ™
process. For instance, suppliers
can click on and drag a payment figure into a section called "payment
details", which will instantly provide information on all of the different
invoices that make up that payment.
This “Drag and Relate”
technology allowed Herman Miller to connect their Baan system with existing
legacy applications, eliminating the need to convert all systems into the Baan
applications. And this integration is versatile: Herman Miller can grow the
support over time, enjoying higher levels of functionality and compatibility as
they add, change and develop new enterprise applications. Existing applications
do not require extensive changes and can evolve to more integration levels as
This technology has enabled
Herman Miller to create a collaborative advantage for their enterprise by
driving a real-time, frictionless flow of information between employees,
suppliers and customers.
Back to Contents.
Further information about
(now called the SAP Enterprise Portal)
is available from SAP at
http://www.sap.com/. For example, CD videos demonstrate the use of TopTier
by SAP in the MySAP web site (http://www.mysap.com/)
- to integrate databases within and across ERP vendors, such as between SAP and
Baan. Many software companies have licensed TopTier software, including SAP,
Baan, Microsoft and others. Details are available from the TopTier web site.
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