PwC Consulting yesterday launched a new practice area created to broaden employee portals to other constituents.
PwC Consulting, the management services unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers is combining multiple alliances with major portal providers, security firms and e-learning companies into its B2E (business-to-employee) practice. Services included in the practice area include managed hosting, security, and access services.
"Were opening up B2E to other stakeholders ... vendors, suppliers and even customers," said George Bailey, senior partner for global B2E marketing at PwC Consulting in San Francisco. "This is a Web-enabled environment where employees, customers and suppliers can work with each other in real-time 24/7."
Portals are hot as a business-to-employee communication tool, said Nate Root, analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. "That is where the lions share of the portal market is. Its easier to see the ROI in putting business processes online behind the firewall."
At the same time, Web application server providers such as Oracle are beginning to bundle portals for free, so "the money gets made in providing services," Root said.
The practice area is based on three categories of deliverables. PwC first creates the business case with clients, outlining what areas provide the greatest benefit.
"For example, moving human resources transactions online, moving product information online. We provide a roadmap that says heres the kind of return you should get and heres the right order," said Bailey.
The second deliverable is the architecture. As a part of that, PwC helps the client select the vendors with the necessary components, and provide "governance on how the whole B2E environment will be developed, led and the business decisions that have to be made. We show them how to manage it and be successful," Bailey said.
The third component of the service is the implementation stage. "We make sure it can handle remote users, and stay on course to make sure the business benefits from the business case are reached," he said.
In its focus on using portal technology to solve business problems, such as high cost for operations, the practice area addresses key issues around governance and decision making. Companies dont often get the full return on their investment because "employees dont use the full capabilities" of a portal, according to Bailey.
Toward that end, PwC is extending its B2E practice into e-learning. "It enables you to equip people with the latest tools and knowledge without having to send them around the world," he said.
The cost to implement B2E portals depends on how much an implementation leverages existing investments. It can range from a few million dollars to as much as $40 million, Bailey said. But most firms in todays economic climate are opting for smaller, incremental projects that can be implemented in 60 to 90 days and can quickly pay for themselves, he added.