Did you imagine Web 2.0 wouldn’t come to industrial maintenance? Or are you just surprised it’s taking so long? Either way, the wait is over.
“We want you to love the software,” said IFS Chief Technology Officer Dan Matthews at the company’s IFS World user group meeting in Chicago. A pleasant thought, but how do you get someone to love an enterprise application? Matthews says IFS is doing it with user-friendly features like access to the package capabilities through Internet Explorer-based search, adaptability for different screen sizes and resolutions, and handy features, including digital “sticky notes” you can use to convey information not covered by existing fields.
It sounds warm, fuzzy and fun, but the business driver is the productivity that comes from letting people do things their own way. Enterprise software companies traditionally force users to adapt to predetermined processes, but that’s starting to change. “It’s going to get harder to say, ‘That’s the way the system works – deal with it,’” Matthews says. If you do that, “They’ll go download another company’s app.” Instead, he says, it’s better to attract users by offering add-ins so they can use the software they prefer.
Along with user-friendliness, IFS wants you to have user friends. The company’s community site, Open IFS, which offers users the opportunity to ask questions and exchange information, gets 100 visitors a day and has 1,200 postings.
Infor also is offering personalization, but with professional guidance. Customizable dashboard templates they call “MyDay personas” are configured to give predefined typical job roles “a holistic view of needed information and the ability to perform actions directly,” said Chief Technology Officer Bruce Gordon at the Inforum user group meeting in Las Vegas. MyDay is intended to know your daily routine so it can support and guide you to higher levels of efficiency.
As a company that has a strong reputation for acquiring and integrating diverse, best-of-breed packages, Infor encourages sharing across applications and easy on-boarding of new apps with open service-oriented architecture (SOA) for networks. In a new era of “Hyper business activity,” Gordon says, “we must enable you to benefit from business Darwinism” by seamlessly sharing information and resources, and managing business processes among applications.
Data can be harmonized (made uniform across the enterprise) and brought together for complex analysis and decision-making. Moving users from transaction-centered to information-centered activity tends to drive train-of-thought inquiries and facilitates informed (rather than assumptive) decisions.
Extending its friendliness to the environment, Infor’s Sustainability Edition accepts power-metering data, monitors consumption and can notify you when equipment is wasting energy, which also might indicate an incipient failure. Soon, the software will know the efficiencies of your installed assets, scan the specifications of new product offerings and advise you when equipment that meets your payback requirements becomes available.
Taking the concept of user-friendliness to the IT administration level and the finance department, Infor says they’re adopting a continuous upgrade model: upgrades are made regularly behind the scenes, without disruption, and their cost is included in normal maintenance with no additional charges.
AssetPoint would like to renew your acquaintance with its TabWare package, and says new owners Triton Pacific Capital Partners is picking up the tab for developing real-time interoperability with automation systems, GIS, engineering content management and enterprise systems. At its Interact 2008 user group meeting in Greenville, S.C., President and CEO Eric Miles said the company also stands ready to assist you with its new AssetPoint Reliability Solutions asset life cycle management and services group.
Presentations to their users by Syclo and Assetpoint as well as Infor and IFS suggest that everybody wants to snuggle into your pocket or holster with mobile technology that embraces the latest in consumer capabilities, look-and-feel, and hardware. Location-based functionality soon will be a given everywhere that it can improve accuracy and efficiency. Multiple communication modes are boosting versatility and both hardware and operating costs are dropping with the proliferation of GPS, GIS and Web-enabled devices in the consumer markets.
E-mail Editor in Chief Paul Studebaker, CMRP, at email@example.com.