ZIFFPAGE TITLEStandard Bearers

By Connie Winkler  |  Posted 2005-05-23 Print this article Print

Today's enterprise portals are polished, professional machines—a breed apart from their scruffy skunk-works ancestors.

Standard Bearers

Like Prudential, the Bank of Montreal is rolling out standard templates for its portal builders. The initiative follows the launch last year of an internal portal for its personal and commercial banking group. "We're able to [incorporate] things like look-and-feel and accessibility standards right into the template," says Richard Livesley, the bank's program manager for information management policy.

That lets designers concentrate on the content, he adds. Plus, the bank's information-technology group has found it can roll out a single portal 80% faster—from an average of 10 days to less than two.

The Bank of Montreal's 2004 portal initiative was designed to ensure that employees can easily access pertinent information about customer service procedures. Previously, information and announcements were thrown together in what Livesley calls "an amalgam" that would be rummaged through by everyone in the company. With the old setup, finding task-oriented information was a struggle; employees often gave up looking, deciding it was more efficient to ask co-workers for help.

The new portal presents information in a much more organized fashion, based on job function. For instance, Bank of Montreal sales reps in Vancouver now have the same set of documents in front of them as those at headquarters in Toronto.

"We were very concerned about allowing our employees more time for their clients, not spending time trying to get answers from the bank," Livesley says. As a result of the portal project, the bank found that employees were about 25% faster performing certain tasks (such as opening a customer's checking account).

At Continental Airlines, the emphasis is also on adding functions to help customers. The Houston-based airline's Web site now lets travelers receive and print their boarding passes and streamline the airport check-in process. Customers who have printed their own boarding passes from Continental's portal can go directly through security to their flight gate, if they have no bags to check.

"From a business standpoint, we're pushing the concept of customers being able to check in for their flights and driving additional activity to the Web," says John W. Stelly, managing director of technology at Continental.

The airline's portal upgrade for 2005 aims to strengthen the infrastructure that supports a busy Web site, making it more resilient for a higher volume of traffic, Stelly says. This added portal customer service complements Continental's efforts to beef up its self-service touch-screen kiosks at airports.


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