Beware crowded portal market

Businesses considering implementing corporate portals should think carefully about their strategy, analysts have warned, writes...

Businesses considering implementing corporate portals should think carefully about their strategy, analysts have warned, writes Antony Adshead

In 1999 Gartner warned users to beware an overcrowded marketplace with too many suppliers. Now it has said the downturn in the US economy and falling technology stocks have created a critical situation.

A recent Gartner report said some suppliers are hoping to be bought, others are repositioning outside the space and others are trying to go public in shaky market conditions. The Meta Group agrees, but said that changes in the portal market are a feature of its growing maturity and not just of economic conditions.

According to Meta, large corporations want to move to portal technology and are prepared to spend money but want to be sure of their investment and so will seek large suppliers. For this reason Meta believes large suppliers will increasingly dominate the market.

David Folger, vice-president, Web and collaboration strategies at Meta, said, "Most of the small players in the market will be acquired, transition to exploiting niche markets or disappear. Also, large companies are getting into the space - particularly IBM and Iplanet - with good products, making it more difficult for the many small suppliers."

Meta believes it is too early to call the long-term winners in this market. "Portal decisions should be tactical at this point. IT organisations must realise that they need to monitor the suppliers they choose and have a contingency plan to migrate to another portal framework if the supplier gets into financial trouble," said Folger.

Gartner has suggested that businesses not only exercise extreme care in selecting a supplier but that they also demand that the source code of a portal product be made available to them in the event of a bankruptcy.

Gartner also pointed out that Microsoft's interest in the portal market could fuel further shake-ups over the next 12 months. Microsoft's .net and Plumtree's corporate portal will be bundled together later this month.

This was last published in March 2001

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