After having seen a walkthrough of an enterprise app store with a dozen of enterprise apps for iPad (and later on iPhone and Mac) I am more convinced than ever that the enteprise portal is dead.
Sorry, let me rephrase that: the enterprise portal as we know it (a one-size-fits-all web site with some personalization features) is dead.
Our devices, be it laptops, smartphones or tablets, will be our new enterprise portals. The enterprise app stores will allow us to create our own portals to relevant enterprise resources and customize each portal for the kind of tasks and situatipons where we use a certain device.
Lots of organizations are still building web sites as portals to their enterprise resources. In fact, with multi-talented platforms like SharePoint 2010, building portals has been made easier and thus become more popular than ever. But that doesn't mean enterprise portals should be designed the way they were designed yesterday.
To quote William Gibson, "the future is already here - it's just not evenly distributed". Get out there and start looking for it. Staring at what happens in the mainstream today is not such a wise strategy if you are planning for tomorrow.
By mistake, I rejected a comment to this post. Thankfully, the notification email alerting me about the new comment contained the entire comment. Here's the comment (posted by an anonymous user):
"Not that sure! As a matter of fact, the function of enterprise portals is double: provide employees with the information sources they need, but also transmit messages from the enterprise to the employees. I do not imagine how a more or less "self-service" interface can fulfill the latter function. Companies will always want to consider some content and/or functions as "compulsory" for all their employees."
I actually don't see how my reasoning would speak against having content and/or functions which are mandatory to all or specific groups of employees. Some apps can definitely be mandatory. If you have a smartphone like iPhone, you know that some apps have been installed by default and can't be removed. The same thing could be done with enterprise app stores. If you have apps for corporate news and accessing the employee directory, those would probably be mandatory. For the user, these would be preinstalled / automatically installed.
The point I wanted to make is that the idea to create a portal (unified access point) to all enterprise resources in the form of a web site soon will be replaced by a better idea. Instead of trying to squeeze everything into a web site, we will design apps optimized for specific purposes or tasks and tailored to fit the situations and ways a certain type of device is being used.