Participating in industry conferences provides me with an ideal opportunity to talk to a wide variety of customers and vendors and get the pulse of the marketplace. These events help me understand what vendors are marketing, what corporations are actually implementing and the problems facing organizations in using new technologies to solve business problems.

One major area of confusion facing conference attendees is the constantly changing terminology used by vendors and analysts. At the DCI Enterprise Portal Conference in Chicago in October, many conference attendees were still trying to understand the role of a portal in the application development and integration process. Several vendors, however, were beginning to use new terms to describe their products. These vendors believe the term "portal" is passé and no longer reflects what customers need or what vendors are providing. The message was that to justify new projects, organizations need more than the personalized Web-based enterprise business content that portals provide –­ they need facilities such as content management and collaboration tools as well. The vendors claim that without these additional capabilities, a portal will lie dormant and will not provide a return on investment.

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