Posts Tagged ‘user interaction’

Monday’s Musings: Why Next Gen Apps Must Improve Existing Activity Streams

Upcoming Data Deluge Threatens The Effectiveness Of Activity Streams

Activity streams, best popularized by consumer apps such as Facebook and Twitter, have emerged as the Web 2.0 visualization paradigm that addresses the massive flows of information users face (see Figure 1).  As a key element of the dynamic user experiences discussed in the 10 elements of social enterprise apps, activity streams epitomize how apps can deliver contextual and relevant information.  Unfortunately, what was seen as an elegant solution that brought people, data, applications, and information flow into a centralized real-time interface, now faces assault from the exponential growth in data and information sources.  In fact, most people can barely keep up with the information overload, let alone face the four forces of data deluge that will likely paralyze both collaboration and decision making (see Figure 2):

  1. Massive activity stream aggregation by enterprise apps. Every enterprise app seeking sexy social-ness plans one or more social networking feeds into their next release.  The mixing and mashing of personal and work related feeds will leave users confused about context and lower existing signal to noise ratios.  Yet, proliferation will continue as users seek to bring aggregated sources of information into one centralized feed.
  2. Explosive growth in the Internet of Things (IOT). Beyond just device to device communications, the web of objects, appliances, and living creatures through wired and wireless sensors, chips, and tags will drive most of the growth in the internet in the next 5 to 10 years.  With an estimated 100 billion net-enabled devices by 2020, these networks seek to discover activity patterns, predict outcomes, and monitor operational health.  The massive amounts of sensing data driven into systems will not only overwhelm users, but also handicap the performance of today’s data warehouses, analytics platforms, and applications.
  3. Flood of user generated content (UGC). User generated content continues to grow.  Facebook has over 500 million users populating pages with rich social meta data.  There are over 300 million blogs.  Wikipedia has more than 15 million articles.  Content sources will propagate at geometric rates, especially as BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) countries up their adoption.
  4. Proliferation of social meta data. Organizations seeking a marketing edge must digest, interpret, and asses large volumes of meta data from sources such as Facebook Open Graph.  Successful identification of social graphs require matching gargantuan volumes of meta data (e.g. likes, check-ins, groups, etc) through introspection across a vast array of objects.  Human centric and object centric events will inevitably coexist and engulf unified activity streams.

Figure 1.  Activity Streams Improve Collaboration And Deliver Dynamic User Experiences


More…

Tuesday’s Tip: The SAP Optimization List – Key Ecosystem Vendors You Should Know

High Cost Of Ownership And Changing Requirements Drive SAP Users To Seek Optimization Solutions

As users await SAP to regain its mojo (see Dennis Howlett’s post) and implement it’s “Voice of the Customer” strategy in 2010, users must continue to reduce their cost of ownership and complexity (see Figure 1).  In addition, rapidly changing business requirements require some users to seek SaaS alternatives, additional point solutions, and extensions.

Figure 1.  Cost Reduction Top of Mind for SAP users

What SAP users want from SAP

Consequently, vendors providing SAP optimization and extension solutions represent one of the fastest growing parts of the $78.7B (2009 Altimeter Group estimate), 850,000 person strong SAP service partner and developer ecosystem.   SAP users already embrace many of the solutions from vendors on this inaugural SAP Optimization List as part of their business value oriented apps strategy. The living list covers seven areas including:

  1. application extension and usability;
  2. application life cycle management;
  3. archiving, storage, and data management;
  4. license management and optimization;
  5. Microsoft Office integration;
  6. third party maintenance; and
  7. virtualization

1. Application Extension and Usability

Users often complain about the poor usability of SAP solutions.  These solutions allow users to change their user experience with SAP.  In some cases, the solutions provide composite app creation capabilities in other tool sets to inter-operate with SAP.

  • Adobeprovides interactive forms for the SAP environment in both an off-line and on-line deployment.  Submitted forms are then entered into SAP.  Forms can include validations and other secure features.
  • ERP-Linkallows users to extend the SAP environment for business intelligence, document management, content management, and composite application creation using Microsoft tools.  The i_Net platform creates SAP-Microsoft interoperability.
  • GuiXTprovides users with the ability to deliver customized user interfaces in SAP applications.  GuiXT is often used by clients to simplify screens and user flows without impacting SAP code.

2. Application Life Cycle Management

Whether it may be instance consolidation, upgrades, test data management, or performance planning, these vendors ease the process of managing the SAP application life cycle.

  • Hayes Technologyassists customers with replicating production application data for dev, testing, and training environments.  Gold Client allows organizations to replicate the data sets they need in SAP configuration, master data, and transcational data.
  • Hyperformix - builds on SAP internal monitoring capability.   Organizations gain a performance monitoring tool that identifies hardware, infrastructure, and architecture optimization opportunities.
  • Intellicorpprovides an artificial intelligence based optimization solution called Live Compare that compares version of SAP for use in testing, upgrade planning, and other life cycle activities. The solution helps clients understand their pre and post environment.
  • Panayadelivers a SaaS based optimization tool for SAP upgrades, enhancement packages, and ABAP code cleansing.  Customers generate a code analysis to determine differentials between versions.  The tool proactively tells user what will break, how to fix it, and where to test.
  • Tidal Softwareoptimizes the allocation of SAP support resources through a root cause analysis methodology.  Performance, IT Process, and Workload automation solutions address both day to day and upgrade scenarios such as a system refresh.
  • West Trax – uses a benchmark tool based on over 300 clients in 13 industries to determine system optimization opportunities for upgrades and  consolidations.  KPI Scan, KPI Optimizer, and KPI QA help organizations identify opportunities, make suggestions, and assist with compliance.

3. Archiving, Storage, and Data Management

  • EMC – provides content management and archiving solutions to support compliance requirements.  Other capabilities include cloning, backup, and recovery, and information protection.
  • IBM Optimdelivers a suite of integrated data management solutions that includes data privacy, test data management, archiving, retention and E-discovery, and upgrade consolidations.

4. License Management and Optimization

Solutions in this category focus on helping clients manage their license usage.  Many large enterprises lack the understanding of how much shelfware may be in production.  In addition, the used software market provides users with opportunities to unload or acquire older releases of software.

  • Flexera (formerly Acresso, Macrovision) - helps clients with a software solution to understand usage, ensure compliance, centralize updates, predict future demand, and improve contract negotiation leverage.
  • SUSEN Softwareprovides a market place to buy and sell used software or shelfware.
  • UsedSoft - supports a market place to buy and sell used software or shelfware.

5. Microsoft Office Integration

Organizations require easy ways to leverage Microsoft Office as an interface into SAP.  Common scenarios include Outlook, Excel, Access, and Word integration.

  • SAP Duetrepresents a solution in joint partnership between Microsoft and SAP to provide interoperability.  Current users complain about the slow pace of innovation and high cost.  A new version addressing these issues will be out in 2010.
  • Winshuttlefacilitates data exchange between SAP and Microsoft Excel or Access.   Winshuttle’s data management tools automate data entry, data download, and reporting tasks for the entire SAP BusinessSuite 7.

6. Third party maintenance

Customers seeking relief from maintenance choose solutions that provide maintenance, tax updates, and regulatory changes for often half the cost of existing SAP maintenance prices.  The clear leader in the market is Rimini Street though some other system integrators have been quietly providing such services.

  • Rimini Street- delivers maintenance options for SAP customers who do not seek to upgrade but would like to keep their existing systems up to date with tax, compliance, and other break-fix issues.  Rimini Street’s charter program has met significant success with over 100 client cases for SAP customers.
  • Your System Integrator of Choice – The recent Siemens SAP maintenance contract negotiations revealed that other vendors such as IBM and HCL were bidding for the maintenance business.   Many SoftwareInsider readers have shared with us that many system integrators, especially those in Europe provide such services.

7. Virtualization

Virtualization allows organizations to consolidate server infrastructure costs for development, testing, training, and production environments.

  • EMC – provides virtualization solutions that include high availability (HA), backup and recovery (BR), and cloning.
  • VMWare -  reduces an organizations physical infrastructure footprint with its solutions.  VMWare provides additional solutions that deliver high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR).  In addition to cost savings, many Software Insider readers report performance improvements.

The Bottom Line – Lots Of Proven Solutions, Expect More Details In Future Friday’s Features

Over the course of the next 6 months, we will be profiling many of these vendors.  Key questions that will be answered:

  1. What’s the appropriate use case?
  2. What other customers have used these solutions?
  3. What are sample ROI’s achieved?

Meanwhile, let’s see what news, programs, and innovations develop at SAP’s Field Kickoff Meeting (FKOM 2010) the third week of January.

Your POV.

Have you worked with any of these vendors?  Feel free to share your experiences.  Am I missing anyone?  This list will be continuously updated so please share with us your thoughts.  Feel free to post your comments here or send me an email at rwang0 at gmail dot com or r at softwareinsider dot org.

Copyright © 201o R Wang and Insider Associates, LLC. All rights reserved.

Product Review: Epicor 9 Delivers Next Generation Apps Capabilities Today

Epicor Succeeds On Delivering A Converged Product Line

Epicor’s latest release, Epicor 9, provides a proof point that an acquisition intensive vendor can keep their promises to both acquire and deliver on innovation.  Under the themes of “Protect, Extend, and Converge”, the Irvine, CA based mid-market software provider committed to its customers to support prior releases, standardize key apps and infrastructure to deliver common solutions, and complete a super set solution.

Epicor 9 became generally available (GA) as of December 10th, 2008.  After almost 11 months in the market, most customers and prospects confirm that Epicor has delivered on their three promises.  More importantly, they have achieved a converged super set of solutions from Avante, Clientele, DataFlo, Enterprise, Manage 2000, ManFact, iScala, Vista, and Vantage.  Key suites in Epicor 9 include:

  • Financial management
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Sales management
  • Production management
  • Supply chain management (SCM)
  • Planning and scheduling
  • Product data management
  • Service management
  • Human capital management (HCM)
  • Enterprise performance management (EPM)

Point of view (POV):  Epicor’s business strategy to grow via acquisition may seem to mirror the business models of Oracle, Infor, and Sage.  However, Epicor is the first to deliver on a converged solution while supporting all existing releases.  This is no small feat as the first phase of convergence brings together the largest base of its acquired products.  In addition, Epicor consolidates a multitude of Microsoft and Progress technology platforms via ICE 2.0, an SOA based foundational middleware.  Epicor rolled out Epicor 9 with significant beta testing from 70 customers and 13 partners.

Phase 2 of the convergence strategy will most likely involve the Epicor Retail line and Epicor’s Enterprise Services Automation.  Other details of Phase 2 may involve greater adoption of the Azure platform for delivery in a Software plus Services model.

ICE Architecture Bridges The Gap Between Web 2.0 Innovations And Enterprise Class Requirements

ICE 2.0 is Epicor’s business architecture built to SOA design principles and Web 2.0 sensibilities.  As a next generation middleware, ICE 2.0 separates the applications layer from the presentation and logic layers – enabling flexibility to update and modify the middleware and presentation layer at separate times from the applications through different release cycles.  Server and client logic outputs as business services that can be made available and modified by users.  These loosely coupled business services improve connectivity and integration and carries critical XML metadata.  Users benefit from much desired Web 2.0 capabilities that support application to application integration and business to business collaboration (see Figure 1).

Figure 1.  Epicor Innovations Stem From Strong Middleware Foundation In ICE 2.0

<iframe align=center src=http://www.flickr.com/slideShow/index.gne?user_id=35408001@N04&set_id=72157614091349617&detail=yes frameBorder=0 scrolling=no width=500 height=450></iframe>
(Source: Epicor Software)

Consequently, ICE 2.0 delivers on many of the 10 elements of Social Enterprise Apps and includes dynamic user experiences, business process focus, and community connectedness.  Key tools include a technology platform based in Microsoft .NET and business logic via Progress’ Open Edge offering.   On the usability front, Epicor 9 addresses role based design, consistent experiences, and contextual and relevant delivery of information through:

  • Improved user experience.  Epicor 9 takes advantage of new Microsoft Office UI/UX paradigms and portal design elements to provide themes, styles, skins, tooltip controls, drag-and-drop designs, and floating palettes & previews.  Users may also drill into and around reports and data. Key personalization features include favorite groups, sheet and toolbar layouts, options windows, short cut bars, and a theme maintenance wizard.

    POV: Users immediately gravitate towards the Office- styled ribbons.  Leveraging the XML schema, Epicor Portal enables role specific content and allows users to craft queries and personalize access to information.  Personalization capabilities smartly tie back to the user ID and persist throughout all solutions.

  • Consistent user experience. Regardless of the user interface, customization and user personalization remains intact because everything starts from the same meta data.  Consequently, Epicor 9 can run on a C#.NET Smart Client, any web client, and mobile devices on platforms such as Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Symbian, and Apple iPhone

    POV: Epicor’s Everywhere Framework smartly stores client business logic as XML metadata and generates AJAX base forms.  This allows client agnostic rendering of the apps in any UI presentation layer and personalization format using the same source code.  The result – a consistent user experience across any channel and even operating system.

  • Business Activity Management (BAM). BAM tools enable users to track changes, create even triggers, and send alerts based on parameters and rules.  Out of the box, Epicor 9 supports auto print reports or labels, BAM rules, change logs, custom global alerts, and custom procedure extensions.

    POV: BAM tools provide contextual and relevant delivery of information across the enterprise.  By being able to monitor changes to database fields and tables, useful alerts can be set up for scenarios such as a customer exceeding a credit limit, a workflow approval that’s on hold because of a approver’s vacation, or the automation of defined and common outcomes.

  • Software-as-a-Service.  Customers can choose among various deployment options from on-premise, hosted, to multi-tenant SaaS.  Epicor 9 is designed to support multi-tenancy and metadata configuration.

    POV: Today’s mid-market organizations share strong opinions on whether or not to take a SaaS deployment option or stay on-premise.  For this reason, Epicor wisely offers a choice to its customer.  Unlike most of Epicor’s competitors, Epicor 9 delivers a true SaaS solution because it supports multiple customers sharing a single shared instance.

On the business process side, Epicor 9 meets key criteria in configurability and adaptability, outcome focused & results oriented, and proactive – predictive – actionable categories with:

  • Business process management (BPM). Epicor BPM exposes all business services so customers can apply business rules, monitor actions, and modify processes.  The system uses a Microsoft Outlook style rules engine which allows business users to make changes without painful customization or coding. Users can define actions, condition statements, holds, and set data triggers.

    POV: Next generation apps utilize BPM tools to enforce controls and enhance policies and processes.  Epicor provides a rich BPM tool that not only extends base capabilities without customizations but also saves time and money by reusing common established processes.  Existing users find the system easy to use and note the ease of use with HTML e-mail formats, Microsoft .NET Action Content, Property Bag Support, and XML Data Nodes.

  • Epicor Service Connect. Using the graphical workflow designer, users can map out and modify business processes.   The system automates business processes such as task assignments, logical routing, and human interaction points.  Epicor Service Connect delivers on message based SOA through XML messages and mapping and leaving a complete audit trail.

    POV: Customers who have used Service Connect rave about the ease of use in copying and sharing common processes.  The system makes these changes without modifying source code and the Visio-like usability is key to its successful adoption.  Customers benefit from BPM without the complexity.

  • Role based dashboards provide actionable insight. Users are treated to a series of role based interactive dashboards.  Dashboards take advantage of Microsoft UI metaphors such as the outlook navigation pane and ribbons. Users can drill into and around data, export to excel, make changes, and come back to the same screens. Role based security at the field level ensures the protection of confidential information.  More importantly, the dashboards support offline disconnected scenarios as well as mobile EPM delivery.

    POV: Users immediately find value in the support for ad-hoc reports, monitoring tools, workbenches, and alerting capabilities.  Existing Epicor users will take for granted the large number of out of the box reports.  New customers will be surprised by the quality and relevance of the 100 dashboards and 250+ key performance indicators (KPIs).

On the community connectedness end, Epicor 9 meets many of the key criteria to engage stakeholders, foster collaboration, and provide enterprise class security via:

  • Epicor Information Worker integrates with Microsoft Office technologies.  Information worker usability leverages Office Business Applications.   Users improve access to business data through this desktop productivity solution and can work in native applications such as Outlook, Word, and Excel. Other key features include disconnected lists and offline transaction support.

    POV: Most users expect Microsoft Office integration but remain disappointed with what’s been delivered by most vendors to date.  Clients express amazement with the ability to use Epicor Portal to work within Office and execute actions that propagate into Epicor 9.

  • Epicor Enterprise Search.  The solution builds off of Microsoft Search capabilities such as SQL Full Text indexing to return structured results such as Epicor data and unstructured information such as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Search results can be ordered by relevance and tuned to meet role based requirements and priorities.   Key features include advanced searches, business activity query searches, named searches, and user configurable quick searches.

    POV: Users gain quicker access to information resulting in increased productivity and knowledge sharing.  Existing clients enjoy the tag clouds and ability to directly access the application from the search results.

  • Epicor Presence and RSS.  Out of the box support for really simple syndication (RSS) feeds gives users the ability to consume information at their own pace.  Support for presence will enable collaboration via tools such as instant messaging (IM).  Key containers include the Windows Gadgets and the Outlook Syndicated Content Directory within Microsoft Office.

    POV: With growing use in mobile form factors, expect presence capabilities to play a greater role as next generation apps incorporate this design element.  Support for RSS feeds delivers on a key Enterprise 2.0 capability representative of next generation apps.  Most users will access this via the Epicor Portal or Outlook to monitor any changes to subscribed topics or sources.

Layered Client Stack In ICE 2.0 Provides Flexibility Across Markets, Sizes, and Industries

The Epicor layered client stack provides a key framework for organizations and partners to make modifications regardless of business size, country and industries.  The seven levels include:

  1. Base Form – provides the foundational source
  2. Productization – allows different editions of Epicor 9 to be created
  3. Verticalization – stores industry specific functionality and terminology
  4. Localization – delivers geo specific capabilities and terminology
  5. Extension – gives partners and orgs the ability to change look and feel
  6. Customization – supports standard customization capabilities
  7. Personalization – allows end users to make modifications to their environment

POV:  Through the layered stack, Partners and companies claim that Epicor 9 is easy to modify and provides a strong framework to deliver last-mile solutions.  Technically inclined business users can also use Epicor Composite Applications to create mash-ups that bring web forms, analytical web parts, search queries into a portal served up in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server.   Key industries with deep support include:

  • Aerospace and defense
  • Automotive
  • Consumer goods
  • Distribution
  • Electronics and electrical equipment
  • Fabricated metals
  • Financial services
  • Furniture and fixtures
  • Industrial machinery
  • Measuring and controlling devices
  • Medical devices
  • Primary metals
  • Rubber and plastics
  • Stone, clay, glass, and concrete

Epicor 9 Designed For Organizations With Global Requirements And Ambitions

Epicor 9 provides growing mid-market companies, subsidiaries of large enterprises, and aspiring ventures capabilities to conduct global commerce.  Key capabilities include:

  • Global Engines. Epicor ships a number of global engines designed to support global deployment and adoption.  Using a series of interlocking global engines, configuration rules determine postings, regulatory support, tax rules, rounding, books, and multi-currency.  For example, the global posting engine provides rule based capability.  The global tax engine supports country and local specific tax rules.

    P
    OV: With each country roll-out and localization, Epicor enables the mid-market organization to span geographies while meeting key regulatory and local requirements.  Even domestic companies with expansion aspirations will gain the capacity to truly conduct global business.
  • Global Capabilities. On the localization front, the solution currently supports 18+ languages for 30+ countries delivering unicode and double byte support throughout the product.  Mulit-currency addresses exchange rate effective dates and multi-book integration.  Multi-company supports intercompany requirements.  User’s can determine their language as a personalization preference.

    POV: Epicor currently supports a limited number of localizations with a goal of 30 languages in 50 countries by 2010.  However, partners have been able to cost-effectively and rapidly deliver on localizations due to the configurability of Epicor 9.

  • Global Multisite Management. Organizations with federated production or distribution capabilities and centralized shared services can take advantage of the multisite capabilities for key areas such as financial consolidation, forecasts, inter-company trading, plant scheduling, and global customer management.  Multisite management allows customers to synchronize master data and goods across multiple sites.

    POV: Multisite capabilities are often provided as workarounds.  Epicor’s approach applies an SOA philosophy to supporting this level of complexity.  Support for visibility across multiple facilities gives Epicor 9 the ability to move into the large enterprise space over time.

Customer feedback to date has been mostly positive.

As with each new release, beta customer often find the bugs and unexpected deployment issues.  Most complaints about Epicor 9 come from clients who chose to self implement or provide a considerable amount of implementation resources.  Not surprisingly, early issues focused on a need for more detailed documentation, best practices, and Microsoft technology skill sets required to self deploy.  With almost a year under their belt, newer customers have mostly expressed satisfaction with the productivity gains, ease of use, and ability to scale up as their business expands.

The Bottom Line For Customers – Consider Epicor 9 For Mid-Market Organizations And Subsidiaries/Divisions of Large Enterprises

Continued enterprise software vendor consolidation has resulted in limited choices for enterprise.  Vendors such as Epicor who acquire, streamline, and adequately reinvest will most likely emerge as leaders in their markets.  Epicor 9 provides customers seeking an alternative to large enterprise apps force fit to meet mid-market requirements.  As customers consider replacement strategies for old generation enterprise apps, Epicor 9 should be considered in short lists for vendor selection.  Organizations betting on Microsoft platforms will also want to evaluate other offerings built on Microsoft .NET tools and technologies to gauge their level of adoption and sophistication.  In general Epicor meets the key needs that SMB organizations have expressed (see Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Mid-market organizations seek enterprise class solutions but lack the resources to support complex deployments

screen-shot-2009-10-24-at-82008-am

The Bottom Line For Vendors – Middleware Matters, Invest or Perish

Enablement of Social Enterprise Apps and their related Enterprise 2.0 capabilities require rich middleware platforms.  In each advancement from mainframe, mini-computer, client server, web based, to this current phase of social enterprise apps or social business solutions, vendors who wait to late to invest will relegate themselves to the has-been pile of vendor companies who failed to make it.  (e.g. Burroughs, Wang, Control Data, MSA, McCormack and Dodge, etc.).  Success and survival requires a software vendor to deliver across the 10 elements of Social Enterprise Apps in the next 2 to 3 years.

Quick Facts: Epicor Software

Location: HQ in Irvine, CA, globally located in 50 countries

Founded: 1984

Revenues: FY 2008 $495M

Employees: 2,800

Customers: 22,000

Your POV

Are you on Epicor 9?  In the midst of a vendor selection for a mid-market ERP solution?  Any problems and issues?  Let us know how to assist or please post or send on your comments to rwang0 (at) gmail (dot) com or r (at) altimetergroup (dot) com and we’ll keep your anonymity.

Copyright © 2009 R Wang. All rights reserved.

Friday’s Feature: Snapshots In Enterprise 2.0 UX/UI – Eshbel’s Priority 13

Usability and User Experience Matter in Enterprise 2.0 Apps

Welcome to the fifth in a series of Friday’s Features showcasing the latest and greatest in enterprise apps usability. Many ERP software vendors including Epicor, Eshbel, 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 5: Eshbel Technologies Leaps Ahead With Intuitive Usabilty and Workflow

Israeli based Eshbel Technologies delivers an update to its venerable Priority ERP product line.  Priority has served over 3000 customers in the past 20 years.  Built on Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 35 tools and the Windows Presentation Framework (WPF), Priority 13 WPF designs with many user roles in mind and delivers actionable insight from the beginning.  The unique UI/UE provides a competitive differentiator in the highly competitive SMB ERP market.  Key to the success of the product includes the deliver of many Enterprise 2.0 aspects such as:

  1. Richer user experiences - users gain a cockpit like access to key information and navigation.  Innovative layout can be personalized with configuration and takes advantage of the latest Microsoft .NET capabilties.
  2. Business process orientation – embedded in the core product, Eshbel includes a rich business process modeling tool that gives end users the capability to modify workflows without expensive customizations.
  3. Configurable change – most personalizations and modifications can be configured without expensive programming.
  4. Actionable insight – Reports generated via drag and drop without intricate coding knowledge.  User dashboard provide key visualization paradigms.
  5. Collaboration – leveraging WPF, Priority improves its synchronization with Office apps and most importatnly outlook.
  6. Intelligent response – easy to configure rich BPM modeler enables end users to set triggers and thresholds for key workflows and processes.
  7. Hybrid deployment -  users will find support for multiple deployment options such as on-premise, on-premise and web enabled, or hosted.

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

(Source: Eshbel Technologies)

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 Eshbel’s approach to usability and workflow? 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.

Friday’s Feature: Snapshots In Enterprise 2.0 UX/UI – Lawson Smart Office

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.

Friday’s Feature: Snapshots In Enterprise 2.0 UX/UI – Epicor 9

Usability and User Experience Matter in Enterprise 2.0 Apps

Welcome to the third 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 3: Epicor Delivers A Broad Range of User Experiences Creating Choice and Flexibility

Epicor announced Epicor 9 on October 20, 2008 at their annual Perspectives user conference and made available the product in GA on December 8, 2008. Built on Epicor Internet Component Environment (ICE) 2.0, this foundational architecture provides users with Web 2.0 capabilities that support application to application integration and business to business collaboration. Epicor 9 serves up the client code and application business logic as self-describing business services. Here are some key UX/UI highlights:

  • Role based dashboards provide actionable insight. Users are treated to a series of role based interactive dashboards.  Dashboards take advantage of Microsoft UI metaphors such as the outlook navigation pane, rbbons. Users can drill in data, export to excel, make changes, and come back to the same screens.   Out of the box, Epicor delivers 250+ key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • Epicor Everywhere Framework delivers a consistent user experience. Regardless of the user interface, customization and user personalization remains intact because everything starts from the same meta data.  Consequently, Epicor 9 can run on a C#.NET Smart Client, any web client, and mobile devices on platforms such as Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Symbian, and Apple iPhone
  • Epicor Information Worker integrates with Microsoft Office technologies.  Information worker usability leverages Office Business Applications.   Users improve access to business data through this desktop productivity solution and can work in native applications such as Outlook, Word, and Excel.

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

(Source: Epicor )

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 Epicor’s UI? Post your thoughts or send me a private email to rwang0@gmail.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: Lawson SmartOffice

Copyright © 2009 R Wang. All rights reserved.

Friday’s Feature: Snapshots In Enterprise 2.0 UX/UI – IFS Applications

Usability and User Experience Matter in Enterprise 2.0 Apps

Welcome to the second 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 2: IFS Brings Consumer IT Elements to Enterprise 2.0

In October 2007, IFS introduced Project Aurora at the IFS World Conference in Berlin. Key elements included a revamped user experience based on two themes: innovation and evolution. Aurora is a Rich Internet Application deployed using .NET. To date, benefits of the new Rich Internet Application (RIA) UI include faster response times, web protocols, security sandbox, less network traffic, and local desktop integration. The project focused on breaking down barriers to productivity and delivered inter-application navigation and enterprise search. Technologies behind the RIA innovations rely on AJAX – script run time, Java FX – Java VM, Flash – Flash run-time, Curl – Curl RTE, and WinForms, WPF – .NET CLR

  • Design elements inspired by Apple’s iPod. The interface uses a range of new navigation technologies such as adaptable link pages, contextual breadcrumb navigation, and visual recent screens. From the left column, users are treated to strong design elements such as inter- application navigation, iPod like short cut icons, and quick entry data widgets.
  • Personalized portals support a role based view. Aurora supports role based personalization capabilities and widgets. Users see relevant information as needed for a persona. Recent navigation screens provide visual design elements to navigate between recent screens. Right hand column elements include information rich alert bulletins, common actions, and status updates.
  • Enterprise search addresses requirements for non-structured data. New search features help customers uncover lost assets, discounts, and other information.
  • Built in analytics drive actionable insight. IFS Analytics tie to XL through Microsoft Office Business Applications concept.

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

(Source: IFS )

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 IFS’ UI? Post your thoughts or send me a private email to rwang0@gmail.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: Epicor 9

Copyright © 2009 R Wang. All rights reserved.

Friday’s Feature: Snapshots In Enterprise 2.0 UX/UI – Microsoft Dynamics

Usability and User Experience Matter in Enterprise 2.0 Apps

Welcome to the first 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 1:  Microsoft Dynamics Highlights The Power of Role Tailored meets Microsoft’s “Rainbow Stack”

One key design point in the Microsoft approach is a role tailored approach based on the Microsoft Customer Model. Microsoft’s usability team modeled 1 corporate group, 5 departments and 61 personas.  These roles form the design basis of how users interact with process, data, and interface. The result – improved usability which reduces complexity, increases focus, promote likely actions, pushes information, supports collaboration, and ensures flexibility.   Add better adoption of Tools and Technology from the Microsoft Tools teams enables better integration with key products such as SharePoint, Office, Performance Point, and Project Server.  Here are a few highlights of the role tailored approach in action:

  • Role tailored view – ( Prakash, a project manager using Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009). From the Microsoft Dynamics Customer Model -Prakash is part of the professional services team and is responsible for project delivery.  He works with Reina (i.e. Resource Manager), to provide adequate resources and staff.  He has approval authority for all project related changes as well as any other materials changes.
  • Role tailored view – ( Eduardo, a production planner using Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009). From the Microsoft Dynamics Customer Model – Eduardo manages scheduling and planning of production. he often needs to reshuffle existing orders to make room for more urgent orders. He considers exceptions to be the rule.
  • Role tailored view – ( Stan, a small business owner using Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009). From the Microsoft Dynamics Customer Model – Stan manages the business from start to finish. He is responsible for everything and has to understand every aspect of the business
  • Role tailored view with analytics – ( Sammy, shipping and receiving using Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009). From the Microsoft Dynamics Customer Model – Sammy manages shipping and also receives goods and verifies them against purchase orders. He also supervises other warehouse employees.
  • Role tailored view with analytics – ( Ken, Controller using Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009). From the Microsoft Dynamics Customer Model – Ken tracks the departments’ financial goals. He continually improves processes to achieve financial goals.  he proposes and helps implement changes to optimize performance. He may approve documents and payments.
  • Environmental sustainability dashboard highlights analytics capability. Microsoft’s new solution attempts to meet growing demands for environmental sustainability by government regulations and litigation, NGO’s and media, business and consumer customers, financial markets and risk assessment, and employees. Using Microsoft Dynamics AX, a new environmental sustainability dashboard brings in information from a multitude of sources to help determine issues such as, “How green is my supply chain?”
  • Performance Management Balanced Scorecard demonstrates integration to Performance Point. Users can configure corporate scorecard, map point, corporate strategy maps, and other web parts in Microsoft Dynamics AX.
  • Office Integration with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 highlights native advantages.  Based on Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 eliminates redundant data entry by enabling integrated data exports with Word, Excel, and Outlook.  Users of Microsoft Excel 2007 can build custom reports from an OLAP database and create Pivot Table Views via drag and drop metaphors.  Other 0ut of the box integrations include Microsoft Office Project Server and Microsoft Office Share Point Server.

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

(Source: Microsoft Business Solutions, Microsoft Dynamics)

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 Microsoft’s UI?  Post your thoughts or send me a private email to rwang0@gmail.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: IFS’ iPod like user experience

Copyright © 2009 R Wang. All rights reserved.