Usability and User Experience Matter in Enterprise 2.0 Apps

Welcome to the fourth in a series of Friday’s Features showcasing the latest and greatest in enterprise apps usability. Many ERP software vendors including Epicor, IFS, Infor, Lawson, Microsoft Dynamics, and Syspro have made significant progress in improving usability as they progress to Enterprise 2.0 apps. As mentioned in a December 29th, 2008 post, customer expectations for Enterprise 2.0 apps include users rich user experiences, actionable insight, and business process orientation. The impact of overall user experience and user interaction often tie back to seven key Enterprise 2.0 characteristics:

  1. Richer user experiences - role based scenarios across various usability paradigms
  2. Business process orientation – support for end to end business processes
  3. Configurable change – designing with flexible models and rules instead of customizations
  4. Actionable insight – pulling all the key information to make a decision in the context of business process and user role
  5. Collaboration – providing secure private interactions and open and innovative connection with stakeholders
  6. Intelligent response – responding to contextual models and business events
  7. Hybrid deployment – deploying all models from on-premise, hosted, instance virtualization, multi-tenant SaaS, and cloud based BPO.

Part 4: Lawson Software Brings The “Process of Me” To Life

Introduced almost a year ago at Lawson’s CUE event on March 18, 2008, Lawson Smart Office brings an optional rich internet user experience for Lawson customers.  Lawson Smart Office builds on top of the Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation and delivers an information workplace front end to Lawson’s collection of applications.  Similar to the Apple’s OS X and Windows 7 experience, the Lawson “Canvas” allows users to engage in quick task switching, active drag and drop, translucent floating windows, flow documents for help file creation, 3D navigation, VisualBrushes for task bar previews, and highly interactive side bars that work with the Lawson applications.  Almost 9000 meta driven screens work with a back end Java Services Layer that communicates with .NET, Java, main-frame, and other legacy environments.  Key feature allow users to:

  • Inter-operate with Microsoft Office. Office productivity tools such as Excel, Word, and Outlook can work directly with Smart Office to send and integrate data.  Excel integration enables users to work directly in Excel and synchronize with Lawson apps.  With Groove, users can collaborate without working with multiple spreadsheets and mailing back and forth changes.
  • Create a personalized role based experience. Personalization features take advantage of Design Studio.  Users design custom styles that enable mods to fields, field validation , form creation, and more importantly, the ability to publish out to other users.  Windows dynamically scale and “ooh ah” features include an iTunes like carousel features for windows and apps switching.
  • Integrate with key Lawson productivity tools. The interface bring Lawson Business Intelligence with Lawson Process Flow integrator.  Users can leverage a unified inbox that receives smart notifications, process flow in-baskets, Smart Office alerts, and LBI dashboards. The result – process flow and role based information pushed to the user.

(added 3/16/2009) When evaluating Smart Office in the context of the seven key Enterprise 2.0 characteristics, Lawson supports the following:

  1. Richer user experiences - provides full screen app with canvas, task bar, shortcuts, and widget.  Forms, icons, and widgets animate.  Smart links on forms pass form data in URLS and URI’s.  Open applications can be tiled or carouseled.  BI data encapsulated in widgets on canvas.
  2. Business process orientation – supports user experience via multiple navigation options.  Processes supported via graphical application flows and role based dashboards.
  3. Configurable change – delivers drag and drop process modeler via ProcessFlow Integrator.  Default values on forms, showing/hiding fields, label editing, and required fields can be user defined and group deployable.
  4. Actionable insight -  links BI content contextually to business records, flows workflow actions into a unified inbox, and supports operational BI processes.
  5. Collaboration – enables online presence and chat.  Chats iniitated via widget link or canvas icon.  Supports MS Groove integration and creation of shared workspaces and sicsussion threads, and calendars.  Provides in context Outlook message and task creation.
  6. Intelligent response – leverages in box widget to unify workflow notifications, replies, transaction and master data alerts.
  7. Hybrid deployment – deployed as on-premise, hosted, and multi-tenant.  Dev, test, and demo can be internally deployed via virtual machine.

Software Insiders Point of View Photo Stream (click image for details)

(Source: Lawson Software)

Your POV.

Do you like how your apps UI currently look? Will user experience lead to cost savings for you? Is this enough to make you want to switch? What do you think of Lawson Smart Office’s UI? Post your thoughts or send me a private email to rwang0 at gmail dot com .

Friday’s Feature: Snapshots in Enterprise 2.0 UX/UI

  1. Epicor 9
  2. Eshbel Priority 13
  3. IFS Applications 7.5
  4. Lawson SmartOffice 9.0x
  5. Microsoft Dynamics AX and NAV

Next Friday’s Feature

We currently have openings for the next Friday’s Feature on UI.  Send a proposal to rwang0 at gmail dot com

Copyright © 2009 R Wang. All rights reserved.