Of course, all portal vendors would answer "yes" to that question. Many will point you to the fact that you can write a responsive portal template that can show portal content on mobile devices, but that’s really very basic.

When you evaluate enterprise portal technology, support for mobile experiences should be high on your list of criteria. Here’s a snapshot of what you should investigate.

Support for mobile web
A mobile website is often the starting point of the mobility journey for many enterprises. It entails developing a mobile-friendly version of your websites and applications and optimizing them for multiple devices and operating systems.

The assumption here, though, is that visitors primarily consume content, rather than really transaction-heavy scenarios. For supporting such a scenario, besides the ability to create responsive templates, a portal tool should be able to provide capabilities to identify the device making the request, and then, based on the capabilities (and limitations of the device), it should be able to adapt the content, layout and templates.

Support for mobile apps
In some cases, you will want people to interact with your portal via dedicated mobile apps. There are multiple ways to create these apps, but the key point to note is that you will most likely create these apps outside of your portal environment (e.g., using a specialized tool). Now, even though the app resides outside the portal environment, and probably uses a different technology, you still may want it to access content and functionality stored in your portal.

In such cases, it becomes important that the portal tool provides an easy way to access information as well as services programmatically (e.g., using an application program interface), so you can use it within the mobile app with ease.

Portal as mobile middleware
You also need your portal to provide middleware capabilities that are relevant for both the scenarios above—i.e., for creating a mobile website as well as for supporting external mobile apps. These middleware capabilities include integration with external enterprise systems, integration with content management systems, reporting and so on and so forth.

So, next time your portal (or web content management) vendor says they can "do mobile,” you should evaluate their claims carefully.

This post was published originally on the Real Story Group Blog. Copyright 2014-2015. Real Story Group is a research and advisory firm focused on digital workplace and marketing technologies. For more information on their vendor evaluations, visit www.realstorygroup.com. Apoorv Durga is a senior analyst at the Real Story Group and covers search, web content and experience management, portals, digital marketing, social media monitoring, mobile and SharePoint. Follow him on Twitter @apoorv.

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