A portal, sometimes called an enterprise portal, is a hosted service that lets users log in to view personal information. Portals are usually a component of a larger service-based relationship and hosted online for instant remote access. For instance, banking portals allow customers to view and handle many essential services online. Similarly, client portals for law firms allow clients to access documents related to their case and view recent actions taken.

Firms offering BI services or using BI platforms as a component of their service often offer analytics portals that provide a “one-stop shop” for customers to view their current data, dashboards and reports. Here, they can generate reports on-demand or view recurring reports in order to check on their overall status.

As an example, a manufacturing company using a BI-powered solution can log into a portal summarizing their current production output, raw material use, contract fulfillment and earnings. The portal may also allow the customer to generate on-demand reports, such as their profitability with a certain product line or partner client over time.

The user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) of portals is an ongoing area of discussion and development in the applications design field. Developers are always exploring better ways to add to both the capability and usability of client portals. An ideal BI portal system is:

  • Highly secure, using encryption to protect sensitive data
  • Connected to a database with low latency
  • Walled off to only include the information the client needs
  • Easy to access remotely, ideally 24/7, and responsive across devices
  • Allows for easy navigation to view different BI reports and data set summaries
  • Capable of generating on-demand reports through simple-to-use tools
  • Covers most or all of the needed functionality for the customer’s BI needs

These days, portal software can be purchased as a stand-alone service or as a white label add-on to existing applications. Cloud-based portals are especially popular for their ease of access and 24/7 availability.

Adding BI reporting to any customer service portal enables end users to obtain actionable information that improves their use of the service and their business in general.

For example, a utility company can provide summary reports on energy consumption, with the ability to drill down into granular energy usage by the hour or over a certain period. Through this information, the company can make actionable decisions to reduce its energy use or its overall expenses for energy consumption.