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The e-Portal Pattern

Portals are the so-called "killer" applications of e-business. The term "portal" has a variety of meanings in today's business world. For our purposes, we define a portal as any intermediary or middleman offering an aggregated set of services for a specific well-defined group of users. For example, Yahoo! and Lycos are portals that organize collections of news, search, and communication services consumers want to use. Users of the eBay, E-LOAN, and E*TRADE portals conduct the business activities associated with auctioning, loan financing, and stock trading, respectively.

A portal occurs when new players succeed in positioning themselves between customers and suppliers. Usually, these extremely customer-focused new players enter the chain to address a specific customer dissatisfaction with the current way of doing business. New portals offer either value-added services to the market channel or decrease the transaction costs associated with the customer/supplier relationship. Portals operate on several business models: eyeball aggregaters, such as Yahoo!; auctions, such as eBay; and megatransaction portals, such as Expedia.


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