|By Steven Webster||
|October 23, 2006 12:30 PM EDT||
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.
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.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,145
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,546
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,386
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,168
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 734
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
Nov. 27, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 1,589
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Nov. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,199
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,156
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Nov. 27, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,145
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 1,456
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 1,430
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,328
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,256
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,156
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,100
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Nov. 26, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 1,562
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Nov. 24, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,686
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
Nov. 24, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,574
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Nov. 24, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,705
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Nov. 24, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,732