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January 2013

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FAQ: Unlock the Hidden Business Value of Self-Service Portals

For a long time, self-service portals were seen as a cost-cutting tool, but a new generation of technologies is turning them into key productivity tools—and even revenue generators. We recently sat down with Sachin Agarwal, senior director of product management for Oracle WebCenter, to get his answers to frequently asked questions about the growing business value of self-service portals.

Oracle WebCenter Newsletter: What is the definition of a self-service portal?
Agarwal: A self-service portal is a Website that enables users—whether they are customers, employees, suppliers, or partners—to perform high-value transactions, from simple account updates to paying bills, managing support tickets, and more.

Oracle WebCenter Newsletter: What is the value proposition of a customer self- service portal?
Agarwal: Besides the value of driving down service costs, self-service portals are a progressively vital element of the customer experience. Customers increasingly prefer to complete transactions themselves via the internet—whenever and wherever they want—rather than having to make a call or travel in person to a business location. And since customer experiences are crucial to achieving competitive advantage, so are self-service customer portals. 

In addition, next-generation technologies are also enabling the delivery of highly personalized content, such as compelling cross-sell/up-sell offers based on customers’ profile, activity, purchase history, etc. As a result, self-service portals are evolving from cost-cutting measures to true profit centers.

Oracle WebCenter Newsletter: What about the value proposition of building employee self-service portals?
Agarwal: An effective self-service portal helps keep employees engaged and happy by putting key information and business processes at their fingertips—from managing their own benefits to completing mission-critical tasks.

To achieve this, a portal needs to raise to the surface back-office applications along with relevant content in an extremely simplified user experience—plus enable employees to easily add applications to create composite applications. Done right, composite applications combine functionality from multiple applications into a single, integrated, intuitive business dashboard.

Finally, next-generation employee self-service portals also integrate social and collaboration technologies that drive increased productivity. 

Oracle WebCenter Newsletter: What are the latest trends and technologies that are driving the next generation of self-service portals?
Agarwal: Increasingly, users want to access self-service portals via mobile devices. That makes it vital to be able to reuse existing site builds as much as possible across all platforms. Also, more and more, people want Websites to know who they are and present only content and transactions that are relevant to them, so personalization is essential. 

It’s also important to empower business users. Traditionally, portals have required IT intervention. Now, a new generation of technologies is enabling business users to implement changes themselves, speeding business transformation while driving down IT costs. 

Finally, social computing, including wikis and other user-generated content, is transforming self-service sites and enabling people to complete more sophisticated transactions more quickly and efficiently through effective collaboration.

Oracle WebCenter Newsletter: How does Oracle WebCenter Portal help drive business value?
Agarwal: With Oracle WebCenter Portal, you can quickly create dynamic self-service portals, with tools to quickly build composite applications and mashups, out-of-the-box social and collaboration tools, complete enterprise content management capabilities, and a comprehensive and flexible user experience platform for faster development.

Find out more about building self-service portals with Oracle WebCenter Portal.

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