Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: Trevor Parsons, Dana Gardner, Ian Khan, Plutora Blog, Lori MacVittie

Related Topics: Adobe Flex

Adobe Flex: Article

Flex and LiveCycle - Platform for Enterprise Success

We have taken the decision to bring together the Rich Internet Application practice with our LiveCycle practice

When I joined Macromedia/Adobe Consulting, my role as Practice Leader was to grow a practice in EMEA around Rich Internet Application technologies. In recent months, we have taken the decision to bring together the Rich Internet Application practice with our LiveCycle practice, reflecting the recurrence in opportunity for us to fuse these client and server technologies together to solve a number of enterprise business problems. As I assume the responsibility to grow this combined practice in EMEA, I'll extend my blogging to share some of the excitement and thinking we have around how the technologies from our Enterprise Developer Business Unit - including Flex, Flex Data Services and the numerous LiveCycle technologies - converge as an enterprise business platform.

I'd like for this blog post to initiate some thinking on what this might mean.

I expect that people who track this blog - by the nature of where it is generally aggregated - are already familiar with Rich Internet Application technologies. I expect these readers already have a strong understanding of the importance and effectiveness of a user-experience that enables consumers, customers, citizens, workers or all manner of other individuals (user is such a non-personal description of the various persona of people who interact with business through a user-interface) to perform their tasks with applications that are not only useful, but usable and desirable.

What is LiveCycle ?
These same readers may not be as familiar however with the LiveCycle suite of technologies. I'm not going to go into exhaustive detail on this suite of technologies, but would highly recommend a browse through the Adobe LiveCycle section of our corporate website. Nor am I going to attempt here to be exhaustive of the business benefits of LiveCycle, but will instead aim to call out some concrete examples of where the fusion of Flex and LiveCycle allows us to tackle even more of the business challenges that our richer and more effective user-experiences have set out to address.

The Business Benefits of RIA...
I'm a great believer in education through example, and understanding through analogy, so let me try and paint a picture of the current landscape.

The ineffectiveness of online application forms not delivering on the promises of 24/7 at-your-leisure access when delivered in a browser, is well understood. Take a mortgage or a loan application from your online bank - these are characterised as frustrating processes that typically employ between 8 and 11 different HTML pages, where each page refresh results in 5% of applicants making an abandonment decision. The problems of page-refresh are well understood - technological frustrations associated with navigating back through an already completed process or session time-outs, user-experience frustrations such as being forced to complete the form in a sequential manner (what I often compare to "reading a book through a straw") rather than more familiar "complete the easy stuff and come back to the hard stuff", or the situation where you need to go and find some supporting information, like your social security number. I can pitch this "failed promise of the Internet" for an hour, so I'll spare you here.

Rich Internet Applications replace these multi-step, complex processes with simpler, easier, more effective single-screen or guided-completion processes, often employing UI metaphors such as the accordion to deliver a user-experience that more effectively matches the interaction patterns of real users.

An analogous problem to financial service application forms, is the same problems manifesting themselves through retail checkout experiences - addressing these problems with RIA have been shown in blind A/B tests to improve the appalling abandonment rates of 75% with increased conversion rates of checkout customers by 50%. So with RIA, we're well on our way to delivering efficiencies through user-experience and design-led solutions that attack the problem from the user's perspective rather than a technology perspective.

I'll talk more of such design-led approaches to RIA solutions in future blog entries.

...fuse with the Business Benefits of LiveCycle
But typically, the rich user-experiences that we deliver with RIA are often the beginning of a more complex document-based process, that inevitably crosses the digital world to a world where people interact through paper.

Let's consider some of these inefficiencies, by returning to our loan application.

Immediately you complete your application (and by replacing that application process with a design-led RIA, there are many more of you that have completed that application compared to the old days of the several HTML forms) you enter the world of workflow, and the world of paper.

In fact, many organisations will insist that you become the protagonist in their paper play. The final step of your mortgage application will often require that you print your application as a form, sign that form, and post that form to the bank.

If you print the form, if you sign it, if you remember to put it in your bag, if you buy the envelope and the stamp and if you remember to post it, then some days later, once your piece of paper has survived the postal system and made it's way to the desk of a loan processing officer, your application is ready to be processed. Electronically. But it's a bit paper. So what are we going to have to do ... that's right, having taken you from the state-of-the-art RIA-enhanced electronic world back to a piece of paper, the very next step is to capture that form information digitally again.

So how will LiveCycle help us here? Well first and foremost, moving seamlessly between the RIA and the PDF world is a simple and obvious fusion of Flex and LiveCycle. One of the key aspects to LiveCycle, is the process of document generation - leveraging technologies such as LiveCycle PDF Generator to automate the creation of PDF files or LiveCycle Assembler to "form-stitch" together document fragments to create customised PDF documents.

More effective however, is to remove the paper-trail altogether, and this is where LiveCycle can really begin to optimise the behind-the-curtain processes in an enterprise RIA solution. In addition to creating a dynamic PDF representation of our application form data, LiveCycle Document Security will enable the customer to digitally sign and encrypt a document before it is electronically submitted to the bank for processing, removing the need for manual rekeying when the document is received.

However, if the bank does require receipt of a paper document with an ink signature, the manual rekeying can still be eliminated. LiveCycle Barcoded Forms automate the capture of user-provided data from printed or faxed forms, by representing that data as a 2-dimensional barcode that can be easily and rapidly scanned, removing the processing and errors associated with manual rekeying of user-supplied data.

Once your loan application is born again as an electronic application form in back-office systems it must be processed; typically this processing is a complex hand-off of your application between different departments, or different people within a department. Perhaps you have to be credit-scored, before your application is then allowed to proceed to the next department, who are responsible for checking your employer references. A gap in your employment perhaps triggers the need for a letter to be sent to you requesting further information - otherwise, your application progresses to a decisioning process that determines the maximum amount of loan you will be offered. You are then sent a letter either approving or declining the loan, and this kicks off another step in the workflow, where your approved loan exists for 30-days. After 30-days, your loan is no longer valid, until another credit-check has been performed. And all the while, you have no insight as to where you are in the loan approval process, or indeed whether your loan has even been received at all.

What we have here, is an example of a complex workflow associated with a transient document - your loan application - as it moves between a variety of systems and people. LiveCycle Workflow Server allows us to streamline these human-centric processes, allowing either the visual or programmatic assembly of "workflows", which allow your electronic application to move quickly and securely through an organisation.

Meanwhile LiveCycle Policy Server could be employed, ensuring that information remains confidential, specifying not only who has access to the document, but what they can do to the document, when they can do that to the document (for instance, once the customer receives their loan approval as a PDF, can they update their mobile telephone number in-site, but not change their address), and for how long they can make these changes. Furthermore, Policy Server will allow all these security policies to be updated even once a document has been issued - revoking access to a loan approval after 30 days, or even confirming that the user has printed the loan application approval, removing the need to send them a paper-copy in the post).

And what of keeping you, the customer engaged ? A Flex application upon a LiveCycle workflow, leveraging Flex Data Services, can offer real-time notification to a user as to the receipt, the progress and the success of their loan application. The enterprise technology stack enables a two-way communication between customer and bank, not a one-way flow of information into a black hole.

And the list goes on...
As I said earlier, I have no desire to be exhaustive in my overview of LiveCycle technologies in this post, but I hope that the above real-world scenario outlines how - effective as a Rich Internet Application can be - we can offer significant additional return on investment when the RIA on the front-end is supplemented with the process automation, document generation and information assurance services that LiveCycle can offer in the back-end.

And it's not just in financial services; think of all the online processes that you have considered that can be improved and innovated upon with RIA technology - not just financial services and online banking, but travel booking, online check-in for flights, retail commerce, making a movie reservation, booking seats at the theatre, hiring a car, submitting your tax return, filing your expenses for approval, etc, etc.

As limited as you are by your imagination, think how many of these opportunities for insanely great user-experiences also result in something physical and tangible in your hand as the result of a process of automations, approvals, workflows or generation of documents.

Like account statements. Like travel itineraries. Like boarding passes. Like movie or theatre tickets, with barcodes that can be scanned at point of sale or point of entry.

Think of how a richer user-experience can not only benefit business with inc reases in conversion rates, increases in the effectiveness of cross-selling and up-selling, increases in repeat-business or increases in customer acquisition through customer evangelism. Think of how a richer user-experience can benefit from the efficiencies of automatic and electronic processing.

Think of the value you can begin to offer your clients, and their customers. Think of how Flex and LiveCycle might work together for you.

Summary
A couple of years ago, I was using the phrase "Enterprise RIA" to define the kind of online applications that could benefit from a richer user-experience while performing complex integration with new and existing systems and infrastructure. The fusion of RIA and LiveCycle dramatically lowers the barrier to delivery of these enterprise RIA, upon a recurring solution platform for enterprise business applications.

I'm tremendously excited about the solution opportunities and business problems our consultants are going to be delivering with the combination of Flex and LiveCycle.

In future blog posts, I'll speak more of how some of these integrations can be achieved technically, whether you are a J2EE architect that wants API-level access to these services, or someone who would rather orchestrate these solutions in a visual development environment, and integrate them with your Rich Internet Applications.

Additionally, I'll be aiming to share some of the leadership our User Experience practice, and RIA and LiveCycle practice consultants are creating around Flex and LiveCycle.

I hope this blog post lifts the lid on a whole new world of enterprise RIA development, while kick starting your thinking about the solutions you could deliver, and the skills you could leverage or the partnerships you could create in order that you are more suitably positioned to deliver these solutions.

More Stories By Steven Webster

Steven Webster is the practice director for Rich Internet Applications at Adobe. Previously, he was the technical director at iteration::two, a world-leading Rich Internet Application consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Webster is the author of Reality J2EE: Architecting for Flash MX and coauthored ActionScript 2.0 Design Patterns for Rich Internet Applications (ActionScript 2.0 Dictionary) and Developing Rich Clients with Macromedia Flex with Alistair McLeod. Steven speaks regularly at conferences and user group meetings on technical and business aspects of RIAs. Steven is the core contributor to the open-source Cairngorm project, a microarchitecture for RIAs based on J2EE patterns which was innovated by iteration::two over a number of Flash and Flex RIA developments.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
Even as cloud and managed services grow increasingly central to business strategy and performance, challenges remain. The biggest sticking point for companies seeking to capitalize on the cloud is data security. Keeping data safe is an issue in any computing environment, and it has been a focus since the earliest days of the cloud revolution. Understandably so: a lot can go wrong when you allow valuable information to live outside the firewall. Recent revelations about government snooping, along with a steady stream of well-publicized data breaches, only add to the uncertainty
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
Docker is an excellent platform for organizations interested in running microservices. It offers portability and consistency between development and production environments, quick provisioning times, and a simple way to isolate services. In his session at DevOps Summit at 16th Cloud Expo, Shannon Williams, co-founder of Rancher Labs, will walk through these and other benefits of using Docker to run microservices, and provide an overview of RancherOS, a minimalist distribution of Linux designed expressly to run Docker. He will also discuss Rancher, an orchestration and service discovery platf...
PubNub on Monday has announced that it is partnering with IBM to bring its sophisticated real-time data streaming and messaging capabilities to Bluemix, IBM’s cloud development platform. “Today’s app and connected devices require an always-on connection, but building a secure, scalable solution from the ground up is time consuming, resource intensive, and error-prone,” said Todd Greene, CEO of PubNub. “PubNub enables web, mobile and IoT developers building apps on IBM Bluemix to quickly add scalable realtime functionality with minimal effort and cost.”
Sensor-enabled things are becoming more commonplace, precursors to a larger and more complex framework that most consider the ultimate promise of the IoT: things connecting, interacting, sharing, storing, and over time perhaps learning and predicting based on habits, behaviors, location, preferences, purchases and more. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tom Wesselman, Director of Communications Ecosystem Architecture at Plantronics, will examine the still nascent IoT as it is coalescing, including what it is today, what it might ultimately be, the role of wearable tech, and technology gaps stil...
Every innovation or invention was originally a daydream. You like to imagine a “what-if” scenario. And with all the attention being paid to the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) you don’t have to stretch the imagination too much to see how this may impact commercial and homeowners insurance. We’re beyond the point of accepting this as a leap of faith. The groundwork is laid. Now it’s just a matter of time. We can thank the inventors of smart thermostats for developing a practical business application that everyone can relate to. Gone are the salad days of smart home apps, the early chalkb...
CommVault has announced that top industry technology visionaries have joined its leadership team. The addition of leaders from companies such as Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Cisco, PwC and EMC signals the continuation of CommVault Next, the company's business transformation for sales, go-to-market strategies, pricing and packaging and technology innovation. The company also announced that it had realigned its structure to create business units to more directly match how customers evaluate, deploy, operate, and purchase technology.
In the consumer IoT, everything is new, and the IT world of bits and bytes holds sway. But industrial and commercial realms encompass operational technology (OT) that has been around for 25 or 50 years. This grittier, pre-IP, more hands-on world has much to gain from Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications and principles. But adding sensors and wireless connectivity won’t work in environments that demand unwavering reliability and performance. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ron Sege, CEO of Echelon, will discuss how as enterprise IT embraces other IoT-related technology trends, enterprises with i...
When it comes to the Internet of Things, hooking up will get you only so far. If you want customers to commit, you need to go beyond simply connecting products. You need to use the devices themselves to transform how you engage with every customer and how you manage the entire product lifecycle. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, will show how “product relationship management” can help you leverage your connected devices and the data they generate about customer usage and product performance to deliver extremely compelling and reliabl...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is causing data centers to become radically decentralized and atomized within a new paradigm known as “fog computing.” To support IoT applications, such as connected cars and smart grids, data centers' core functions will be decentralized out to the network's edges and endpoints (aka “fogs”). As this trend takes hold, Big Data analytics platforms will focus on high-volume log analysis (aka “logs”) and rely heavily on cognitive-computing algorithms (aka “cogs”) to make sense of it all.
With several hundred implementations of IoT-enabled solutions in the past 12 months alone, this session will focus on experience over the art of the possible. Many can only imagine the most advanced telematics platform ever deployed, supporting millions of customers, producing tens of thousands events or GBs per trip, and hundreds of TBs per month. With the ability to support a billion sensor events per second, over 30PB of warm data for analytics, and hundreds of PBs for an data analytics archive, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Kaskade, Vice President and General Manager, Big Data & Ana...
One of the biggest impacts of the Internet of Things is and will continue to be on data; specifically data volume, management and usage. Companies are scrambling to adapt to this new and unpredictable data reality with legacy infrastructure that cannot handle the speed and volume of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and president of Infobright, will discuss how companies need to rethink their data infrastructure to participate in the IoT, including: Data storage: Understanding the kinds of data: structured, unstructured, big/small? Analytics: What kinds and how responsiv...
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
The Workspace-as-a-Service (WaaS) market will grow to $6.4B by 2018. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, will begin by walking the audience through the evolution of Workspace as-a-Service, where it is now vs. where it going. To look beyond the desktop we must understand exactly what WaaS is, who the users are, and where it is going in the future. IT departments, ISVs and service providers must look to workflow and automation capabilities to adapt to growing demand and the rapidly changing workspace model.
Sensor-enabled things are becoming more commonplace, precursors to a larger and more complex framework that most consider the ultimate promise of the IoT: things connecting, interacting, sharing, storing, and over time perhaps learning and predicting based on habits, behaviors, location, preferences, purchases and more. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tom Wesselman, Director of Communications Ecosystem Architecture at Plantronics, will examine the still nascent IoT as it is coalescing, including what it is today, what it might ultimately be, the role of wearable tech, and technology gaps stil...