Editor's note: DM Review would like to welcome Shari back as a columnist. She'll present a consultant's view of BI, beginning with this look at the self-service aspect of customer portals.

Log onto Yahoo! and you're on a portal. That is why most people understand, at least instinctively, what a portal is. Simply defined, it is an aggregation point for content, functions and features, using Web-based technology and dynamic channels to access existing applications in order to create an interface with a unifying theme. It is the interface between any particular user and the information he or she needs or wants for the day ahead or the task at hand.

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