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Portals remain a key to cmm

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  • 1. Portals Remain a Key to CMM BY GREG GORBACH NOVEMBER 28, 2001 ARC INSIGHTS# 2001-050E KEYWORDS: Enterprise Portals, Plant Portals, Visibility, Connectivity, CMM SUMMARY: Portals allow users to view information from disparate sources, but there are some im- portant differentiators between consumer portals, enterprise or corporate portals, and plant portals. ARC views portal technology as a key to providing visibility and connec- tivity between people and systems, and will be a critical element for manufacturers. Portals constitute one of the three key technologies for Collaborative Manufacturing Management (CMM), with Web Application Servers and Exchange or Integration servers being the others. ANALYSIS: With minor differences, many portal suppliers can access and present data from a public Website, an Intranet, or a data store via special connectors and applications. Typically, the data is filtered or personalized based on user profile. Some portals go beyond the basic visibility functionality to provide knowledge management, or document-based workflow management, but only a few go all the way to providing an environment to unify the various applications and services for a user. As companies shift to collaborative manufacturing, boundaries toARC views portal technology as a information sharing will change dramatically. Customers, suppli- key to providing visibility and ers, design partners, and corporate managers will all require secure connectivity between people andsystems and a critical element for access, based on their profiles, to information and applications manufacturers. across the complete enterprise and value chain. These users will have little knowledge of how to access information and little pa- tience for searching multiple databases, combining information from disparate systems, and maintaining a multitude of passwords to gain access to different systems. Portals will lessen such hurdles to information. Portals provide a convenient way to establish an efficient desktop work center that drives information flow and problem solving. Recognizing this benefit, many portal suppliers provide role-based templates that organize user interfaces for efficiency while allowing personalization that can address individual preferences. ENTERPRISE AND AUTOMATION STRATEGIES FOR INDUSTRY EXECUTIVES
  • 2. ARC Insights, Page 2The best portals go beyond simply displaying data in one place. Often combining ad-vanced analytics, these portals convert data into information such as Key PerformanceIndicator (KPI) displays or other analysis, allowing users to verify facts, make and pur-sue logical connections, and take immediate action. These portals integrate anenterprise’s various digital assets, enabling the user to easily navigate between these as-sets, gathering information and knowledge along the way to enable better decisionmaking.Information Access and PresentationThe prototypical consumer portal, Yahoo.com, offers a broad, personalized array of di-verse information and services, including news, shopping, finance, entertainment, email,and much more, in the hope of being the most popular destination on the Internet.Many enterprise or corporate portals employ a similar model, providing their users withdiverse business-related information. They increase productivity by providing userswith visibility to all relevant information, thereby empowering them to make better deci-sions and operate more effectively. Such portals typically offer a Web-based,personalized desktop for individuals, basic user interaction with enterprise applicationsand services, and other information sources such as stock, weather, or news sites, adocument directory, and a collaboration point for communities to facilitate knowledgesharing.This functionality is excellent for providing employees access to administrative informa-tion such as HR benefits, and many manufacturers find this a good place to start withportal technology. Companies save money by eliminating duplicate information stores,reducing printing costs, reducing telephone support costs and improving employee pro-ductivity. Access is personalized, to reflect only the individual’s information needs.Consolidating such information into one portal view for the user simplifies access foremployees, allowing them to remain productive. Limited two-way information flow istypically provided, allowing employees to update certain personal information.Another use for this type of functionality is consolidating operational information from anumber of applications in one place. By accessing and presenting information from ERP,CRM, SCM, and other applications, this “HMI for the Enterprise” approach can portraythe status of the overall business operation, in much the same way that HMI systemsconveyed the status of controlled plant equipment.Plant portals play a similar role, but leverage connectivity with plant systems such asSCADA/HMI, LIMS, Historians, CPM, Maintenance systems, as well as Enterprise soft-ware. They may offer access to real-time, as well as stored data to enhancemanufacturing decision support. Dashboards can display KPIs such as Order status, © 2001 • ARC Advisory Group • 3 Allied Drive • Dedham, MA 02026 USA • 781-471-1000 • ARCweb.com USA • UK • Germany • Japan • India
  • 3. ARC Insights, Page 3Daily Production, or Asset Efficiency, and alerts may be set to automatically notify theuser of deviations. A product like Lighthammer’s Illuminator can display such KPIs forexecutive and supply chain users, real-time production information for production man-agers, Web-based interfaces to process information for Engineering, KPIs and SPCanalysis for Quality users, and work orders for maintenance groups.Presenting information in one place from the different systems that impact productionwill empower managers to act directly to align operations decisions with manufacturinggoals and with business needs. With the right information available, one can quicklyassess and identify problem area that require immediate attention.Knowledge ManagementAnother class of portals incorporates document-based workflow management. This pro-vides for check-in/out of documents, routing, approvals, and metadata management.For example, Microsoft’s SharePoint Portal Server has document-versioning, approval,and publishing capabilities. Users are able to check documents in and out, rollback ver-sions, and submit documents for approval and publishing from Microsoft Officeproducts and the Windows Explorer. Other portal servers with KM strengths includethe Broadvision InfoExchange Portal and IBM’s Lotus K-station.Unified WorkspaceWhen it comes to empowering users to do their jobs, the next level of functionality putsthe user in a position to directly interact with the applications and information sourcesneeded for the job. The best example is found in SAP Portals, which uses an abstractionlayer to enable user-directed, proactive context navigation across multiple applications.This means that the user can focus on the problem and not on where the needed infor-mation might reside. For example, based on metadata information about how to accesscustomer and financial information from different back-end systems, users can quicklyestablish which customers generate revenues exceeding $1Million, for example, thendrag the customer information to another portal to determine who the account managerfor that customer is – along with contact information. It is made possible by “unifiers”based on metadata that defines the contextual link among different applications. SAPPortals is an open solution utilized by both SAP and Baan.This is a critical functionality for CMM. It puts users in control of the information theyneed, allowing them to easily navigate from component to component to obtain in con-text the required information. An empowered user is necessary, but not sufficient toproviding CMM. Also needed is the capacity for business process modeling, automa-tion, and management to ensure that work and business processes are moved © 2001 • ARC Advisory Group • 3 Allied Drive • Dedham, MA 02026 USA • 781-471-1000 • ARCweb.com USA • UK • Germany • Japan • India
  • 4. ARC Insights, Page 4expeditiously throughout the organization, and to the appropriate user’s attention at theright time.RECOMMENDATIONS:• Manufacturers will need to utilize portal technology, along with Web Application Servers and Exchange or Integration servers, in building the technology infrastruc- ture for CMM.• Look beyond the basics such as personalized content, security, and customizable Web interfaces, and make sure that the portal solution provides ease of connectivity to all of the systems and application required to ensure that employees are empow- ered to accomplish their tasks as efficiently and effectively as possible.• Document-management workflow solutions are helpful for one class of business process management, but not well suited to synchronizing business processes among various constituencies. Look elsewhere for these solutions.• Use portal solutions to put the user in control of the information they need, allowing them to easily navigate from component to component to obtain in context the in- formation they need. This is the best way to empower individual users, and maximize enterprise performance.• Be prepared for surprises. It is not uncommon to discover problems such as bottle- necks, delays, or inefficiencies when portals are first fired up. But many of these are easy to fix. This alone can result in substantial savings.For further information, contact your account manager or the author at ggorbach@arcweb.com.Recommended circulation: All EAS clients. © 2001 • ARC Advisory Group • 3 Allied Drive • Dedham, MA 02026 USA • 781-471-1000 • ARCweb.com USA • UK • Germany • Japan • India