In my last blog post in the “Building Business Applications of the Future” series, I talked about the changing audience for business applications, with many users now falling into the generation called “millennials.” Companies who aren’t thinking about millennials are in danger of missing a seismic shift in user expectations. One in five millennials no longer uses a desktop computer to go online, relying exclusively on smartphones and tablets instead. In this post, I’ll explore the different ways of accessing business applications today, along with the impact these changes have on your business.
While a modern enterprise application can have thousands of screens and cater to multiple personas and needs, in the past, typical user interfaces for enterprise applications were written in a single technology and designed for a very specific way of accessing them. For example, you might have a single ERP application with 2000+ screens that is core to your business operations (also known as System of Record) with a user interface designed solely for desktops. That interface is now known as the System of Engagement.
The concept of Systems of Engagement is attributed to Geoffrey Moore, a business author of such books as Crossing the Chasm. In his paper for AIIM.org entitled: "Systems of Engagement and the Future of Enterprise IT," Moore states: “Amidst the texting and Twittering and Facebooking of a generation of digital natives, the fundamentals of next-generation communication and collaboration are being worked out. For them, it is clear, there is no going back. So at minimum, if you expect these folks to be your customers, your employees, and your citizens (and, frankly, where else could you look?), then you need to apply THEIR expectations to the next generation of enterprise IT systems... Systems of Engagement… will overlay and complement our deep investments in systems of record.”
These days, Americans spend 60 percent of their "digital media time" using their smartphones and tablets, surpassing desktop usage. The notion of one type of user interface meeting your customer needs is a thing of the past. Meeting the needs of different personas, different devices and different methods of access is essential to the future of business applications.
For example, a data entry clerk might prefer a user interface that doesn’t need a mouse because he’s most effective using a keyboard or scanner. A power user of an application, however, might prefer a desktop or web-based solution where he’s able to access and update multiple data elements. Data analysts and citizen developers might want to create satellite/incidental applications that access data from the core application and meet their needs. Finally, every business needs a website to promote their products and track their users’ activities. (Of course, business application functionality can also be accessed directly via APIs, but let’s save the non-UI related access for your business applications for another time.)
As represented in the picture below, these are all important use cases and need to be carefully considered while designing business applications of the future. Each is a step in a multi-step process toward enabling a digital transformation for your business.
Wouldn’t it be great if your business application architecture and strategy enabled you to reach different users and meet their UI needs, all while keeping your core application unchanged?
The latest OpenEdge release (available on October 26th) integrates many of these capabilities to provide a high productivity platform to build business applications of the future. With the acquisition of Telerik and Rollbase, Progress® OpenEdge® customers have a great portfolio of tools to build Systems of Engagement. As represented in the picture below, OpenEdge customers can take advantage of Telerik® DevCraft, Telerik® KendoUI®, Telerik® Platform, Progress® Rollbase® and Telerik® Sitefinity™ products to create a great strategy for business applications of the future.
So are you taking advantage of these technologies yet?
Businesses can’t afford to sit still while their audience changes around them—not if they want to thrive, at least. As Moore stated and as many business leaders know, you have to adapt to changing customer expectations. Using modern UI technology, while leveraging your existing investment in your application logic and flow will create tremendous value for you and your customers!
User expectations are changing rapidly and for many businesses, UI/UX is becoming a key business strategy. Take advantage of modern technologies and make your application more competitive. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post, and as always, feel free to contact us to learn more about how Progress OpenEdge can help you build business applications of the future.
Sunil Belgaonkar brings more than 22 years of software industry experience to his position at Progress, and is currently responsible for the strategy and direction of OpenEdge business.
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