With the advent of corporate and enterprise information portals, businesses gained tools to help people aggregate, access and navigate through data from internal databases, internal document repositories, and Web sites. As the technology has evolved, navigation has become more sophisticated, content more relevant, and interfaces more user-friendly and intuitive. Even accounting for these advancements in portal technology, portals remain passive presenters of information - allowing information to "coexist" on the desktop, but not much more. Users must manually and mentally transform their data into useful information that can be acted upon. This transformation process is a manifestation of what we call the decision cycle. In this white paper we describe how a next-generation portal includes features that support the decision cycle on an entirely new level.

In its most basic form, the decision cycle involves the tasks of identifying and locating information, collaborating, analyzing and taking action. Each task represents a significant commitment of human capital, with all of the associated expenses. Multiply these expenses by the number of functional areas and business processes in an enterprise, and the benefits of streamlining the decision cycle with a portal become apparent.

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