In the digital era, consumerization of enterprise applications is an unstoppable trend. Enterprise app vendors are designing their user interfaces to be more user friendly in line with social media applications. Ajay Kumar, Senior Director, Sales Consulting, ERP & EPM (India), Oracle India shares his perspective on how Oracle is aligning itself to this new world
Some edited excerpts:
How has Oracle changed the user interface of major enterprise applications in line with the changing trends with respect to consumerization of IT?
Building cloud applications for the way humans work or interact throughout their day is a part of Oracle team’s long-term mission. We have identified – simplicity, mobility and extensibility –as the basis of building a user interface for our application design. The cornerstone of our initiatives has always been to understand the workforce that the applications aim to serve. We strongly believe that technology without the right user experience is very difficult to adopt, and therefore, is useless.
The user experience does not have much to do with the device or operating system, but how that particular user is using it. It is about how the user gets the right information on the right device, at the right time. This is why Oracle configuration tools allow partners and customers to modify page layouts and elements across an Oracle cloud application, so that they align with a company’s specific business processes. For instance, users can create and re-arrange page sections; hide, show, and rearrange fields; create and reorder tabs; change field labels and also create new objects and fields.
We, at Oracle, recognize that understanding human work pattern is a key to design element and we continuously thrive to provide an exceptional personalized experience to all our clients.
Can you cite some examples from your portfolio of enterprise applications where this can be seen prominently?
Let us take a look at how a senior business leader, say a CFO, will use a business application. A CFO, while concerned about correctness of transactions, would be more interested in the way information is delivered to her and the way the same can support decision-making process. We worked on strengthening our core applications with world-class capabilities, and with that, also delivered a pre-built, user-modifiable, interactive, transaction-based business intelligence to CXOs. A CFO can simply start the day with an informative dashboard that displays all critical KPIs that are relevant for the business and drill down to data to analyse any exception in detail. This can be done on any kind of devices like, mobile phone, tablets or desktops. Unlike the one-size-fits-all approach of most of the traditional business applications, we deliver a user experience that is designed for specific roles in an organization.
Do you believe that the era of change management or extensive user training is now over with respect to enterprise apps, as most apps do not require extensive training today?
New age cloud solutions definitely bring down the need for extensive trainings. Our primary consideration is user experience. This is why we have simplified the user interface for all our entries apps and included common elements such as, a home page “springboard” that shows icons for most-used functions; a header with clear app navigation (for instance, returning to the home screen); ‘infolets’ that draw information from multiple sources into one view; and information tiles that show the infolet and scrollable options alongside it, for deeper drill-down information.The cloud model allows us for frequent software updates and improvements, and we have been using it to our advantage by continuously providing our customers what they need.
Change management is critical. Even when processes are simplified, systems are more robust and the change makes life easy, change management is required. People who are used to running business applications in a certain way, need to rethink their strategy. Organizations have to evaluate how do they want to make IT investments in future and decisions between a simple “keeping the lights on” and a disruptive innovation approach have to be taken. This needs design thinking and change management.
How has Oracle positioned itself in the new era with respect to building UX? Can you cite some features from your enterprise app portfolio which depict social features?
Oracle offers powerful and flexible user interface tools in all of its enterprise applications, that enable clients to configure, customize, and extend their application as suitable. Our enterprise cloud applications have been built in accordance to the way humans move through their day. This implies that we yearn to do much more than designing for mobile devices first. The UX we create lets our customers’ users shift between their personal and professional devices and lives more easily. This is achieved by building smart UX features that can capture input data and generate context to anticipate user needs, and by accommodating quick, one-handed “coffee-shop interactions” that let users move from intent to action quickly.
Further, Oracle’s strategy is to seamlessly integrate social capabilities into the main business processes. For instance, the Oracle Social Network, a standard capability built seamlessly into business applications allows you to capture the related conversations of a business process right where it’s happens – within the respective business application. This is why we call it the “social glue ”for enterprise applications, as opposed to other traditional social products that end up creating social silos. We thrive to bring to our customers a platform, that provides social features as a service to other enterprise applications, and socially enables all of Oracle’s enterprise applications with not only the same features, but also the same conversations. As a result, the social conversations act as a conduit for inter-application communication and collaboration.
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