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The 2004 Portal Excellence Awards

  • May 01 2004, 1:00am EDT

Sponsored by DCI and DM Review

Each year, those who have implemented portals compete for the Portal Excellence Awards. At DCI's Portals, Collaboration and Content Management Conference in San Francisco in March 2004, winners were announced in two categories, Best Enterprise Portal Application and Best Business Integration Project, and awards were given to teams of both the customer and the solution provider.

As the conference chair, I led the judges' panel for these awards. Joining me on the panel were Clive Finkelstein of Information Engineering and Zach Wahl of Project Performance Corporation. We evaluated the return on investment, architectural design and innovation of each customer implementation.

The finalists for the Best Enterprise Portal Application were: American Hospital Association and Interwoven, AXA Financial and Sun Microsystems, AXA Insurance and Sonic Software, and Hamilton Sundstrand and Plumtree Software. The winner was AXA Financial. A special award was given to the American Hospital Association for the best example of content management.

The finalists for the Best Business Integration Project were: County of Santa Clara and Datawatch Corporation, E&J Gallo Winery and TIBCO Software, Twentieth Century Fox and Alphalogix, and Wall Street Access and IBM. The winner was E&J Gallo Winery. A special award was given to the County of Santa Clara for the best example of meta data integration.

Enterprise Portal Application
AXA Financial - Winner

AXA Financial deployed the Sun Java System Portal Server for supporting its AXA Advisors retail channel ( and its AXA Distributors wholesale channel (

Financial professionals and their clients at AXA Advisors use the portal to access information and link to tools that help them increase productivity. Financial professionals can execute securities trades online and stay current with key events for clients. Clients can manage and view their portfolios online and access an abundance of information related to financial products and services.

In 2003, 29 percent of all customer self-service financial transactions at AXA were conducted over the Internet using the portal, providing a significant savings over using a call center. AXA is able to conduct insurance transactions online at nearly half of the cost of traditional channels. The company also saves more than $600,000 annually through the elimination of mass-mailing costs.

The AXA Distributors portal leverages the success of the AXA Advisors portal by extending portal-enabled facilities to independent financial advisors, banks and broker/dealers. Approximately 90 percent of the retail portal architecture was reused in the deployment of the wholesale portal. By consolidating its e-commerce initiatives onto one platform infrastructure, AXA Financial reduced its total cost of ownership by as much as 50 percent.

American Hospital Association
Special Content Management Award

American Hospital Association (AHA) Hospital-Connect portal ( provides a single point of access to the 50 Web sites owned by AHA and its 21 affiliates. The core of the infrastructure consists of the Interwoven content management system and a Verity search engine.

Prior to the creation of the portal, AHA and its affiliates had 72 Web sites. The challenge of managing these different Web sites on 18 different and unconnected platforms was daunting. Sharing files was difficult and search was impossible. Now, the portal enables AHA and all of its affiliates to work on standardized hardware and software in one location - a fully secure Qwest CyberCenter. Each site can share design templates and content with the other Web sites but can operate independently, thus maintaining its own look and feel.

The portal has enabled HospitalConnect to reduce development, management and print costs by tens of thousands of dollars. It has also streamlined access to information - enabling visitors to find information in seconds, as opposed to hours. Better management of content has also opened new revenue opportunities. AHA recently had its biggest year in online store sales, which were 20 percent ahead of last year and 75 percent ahead of two years ago.

AXA Insurance - Finalist

AXA Insurance has created an XML-based enterprise portal for content management, delivery and profiling called ARIA (AXA's Reusable Information Area). ARIA is based on Sonic Software's eXtensible Information Server, an XML data store and processing engine.

ARIA provides AXA Insurance employees with the ability to edit and publish their own Web content while maintaining company-branding guidelines. Currently, there are 4,500 portal users and 350 editors and publishers.

With the self-publishing of content to the portal, portal information is more accurate and appears in a more timely fashion. The time required to post information has been reduced from seven days to less than a minute. Additionally, IT staff can function more effectively, as they are relieved of the inefficient task of maintaining Web content.

ARIA has reduced overall IT costs while returning control of content to the people who should own it. Additionally, by developing its own portal, AXA Insurance has eliminated the need for a commercial content management system. This has led to savings of approximately $350,000 in the first year of operation, and a further savings of $200,000 for each subsequent year of operation.

Hamilton Sundstrand - Finalist

As the company's virtual desktop, the MyHamilton-Sundstrand (MyHS) portal is the mandatory home page for every Hamilton Sundstrand employee. The MyHS portal uses the Plumtree Corporate Portal Server for supporting 17,500 employees enterprise-wide. It consists of a 150,000-document directory, 175 workgroup communities and 350 portlets that integrate information and services from enterprise systems and the Internet. Some 900 Web crawlers scan various document repositories and index new documents within the document directory.

Through MyHS, employees have a single destination for production schedules and order status from JD Edwards, sales reports from Business Objects, company and competitor news, and project information and collaborative workspaces. As a result, the company is streamlining supply chain communication and reducing the time spent phoning, faxing and searching for information.

By conservative estimates, the MyHS portal saves 4,500 regular users 10 minutes per day every working day of the year, which translates to a savings of $5.6 million annually. Return on investment has also been achieved by eliminating VPN costs, Web-enabling manual processes and lowering communication costs.

Best Enterprise Integration Project
E&J Gallo Winery - Winner

The E&J Gallo Winery Grapevine Portal leverages the TIBCO PortalBuilder to enhance its Web environment. The Grapevine Portal provides one internal view (the Employee portal) and four external views (SalesWeb, DistributorWeb, TradeWeb and SupplierWeb). These views are further personalized according to geography, brand affiliation, individual employee, etc. The current user base for the Gallo Grapevine portal is 6,200 users.

Through the Grapevine portal, employees can access a broad range of information and applications, including information concerning cellar and warehouse operations, marketing programs and finance reports. In addition, more than 20 Web-based applications are available.

The company is also using the Grapevine Portal to support the rollout of enterprise workflow based on TIBCO's InConcert and BusinessWorks products. A custom My Tasks portal category serves to consolidate a personalized view of each user's available and in-process workflow tasks.

A key element of the Grapevine Portal is that all portal views are based on a shared infrastructure and content repository. This greatly simplifies development and maintenance, and increases data integrity. Individual application development groups can now leverage the portal infrastructure to externalize tasks such as access control and user administration.

County of Santa Clara, California
Special Award for Meta Data Integration

Santa Clara County (SCC) contracted with Datawatch|ES to establish a Web-based report portal to store, index and distribute reports produced by its STARS fund accounting system as well as SQR reports produced by its PeopleSoft county-wide HR and payroll system. The portal also serves as a programming-free business intelligence system - the portal can be used to extract data from reports for online analysis and for downloading data to Microsoft Excel.

One of the objectives of the portal was to end the massive amounts of paper printing within the organization. Prior to the deployment of the portal, SCC would print, burst and distribute a wide range of HR and payroll reports. SCC estimates that they are saving approximately 2.2 million pages of paper annually with the portal.

Another objective of the portal was to eliminate the large amount of data rekeying taking place. A study showed that employees were manually entering massive amounts of data from their paper reports into Microsoft Excel and Access in order to analyze and act upon the data.

In the initial implementation, more than 600 county managers and workers accessed their reports and data at any time through the portal. SCC reports that the number of users now totals more than 1,900, and the portal now includes additional application reports.

Twentieth Century Fox - Finalist

Twentieth Century Fox's greatest asset has been the intellectual capital of its staff worldwide. Employees represent approximately 60 percent of corporate knowledge. To leverage this global expertise, Twentieth Century Fox implemented the Alphalogix Workcenter Enterprise Portal, which is based on the IBM WebSphere Portal.

By being able to communicate and collaborate with employees worldwide through a single interface, Twentieth Century Fox has the ability to react to market trends and produce products more quickly than their competitors, thereby yielding greater revenue.

The entertainment portal contains a knowledge management engine, Lotus Sametime and QuickPlace collaborative components, Lotus Discovery Server for capturing the expertise, box-office reporting tools, and single-sign-on and directory functions provided by the Alphalogix Enterprise Portal Server and Tivoli Access Manager.

The portal has helped Twentieth Century Fox reduce their time to market by better positioning their products, enhancing information sharing and eliminating redundant efforts. As a result, Twentieth Century Fox estimates a revenue increase of $20 million during the next year of portal operation.

Wall Street Access - Finalist

Wall Street Access (WSA) is an online discount brokerage firm geared to high net-worth active traders, money managers and retirement plan sponsors. The company specializes in trading large, complex orders.

WSA's trading system and the presentation layer of its Web site was originally based on Microsoft C++ architecture. After three years of using this architecture, the Web site loading times became too slow as more back-end data was integrated. Also, the system was a black box solution, making integration with strategic partners and vendors difficult, if not impossible. WSA therefore needed to overhaul its Web site and back-end integration solution to better service its customers, who required high-performance trading applications.

The solution was AccessPoint, the company's new trading system, which uses IBM WebSphere MQ to integrate and aggregate stock market information from nearly 20 market data providers and order-routing endpoints such as NYSE, NASDAQ and AMEX. There is also further integration from a back-office and order-routing perspective with its clearing firm, Pershing, as well as with brokers that can receive information electronically. WSA has approximately 20,000 customers enrolled for use of AccessPoint, which is approximately seven times faster than the original trading system.

Congratulations to the finalists and winners in this year's competition!

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