Intentia has unveiled plans for Movex3, a third generation of its Movex enterprise software designed to help mid-sized companies adopt more flexible business processes. The key drivers for Movex3 will be deeper, industry-specific functionality, simplified interoperability with other systems and business partners, and a richer, more natural user experience designed to encourage innovation, not just mechanical efficiency.
Intentia CEO Bertrand Sciard said Intentia's industry-specific solutions provide a critical advantage for mid-sized companies. "Everywhere we see an increasingly dynamic, global business environment and the companies that are going to thrive are those that are able to embrace changes that give them a competitive advantage," he said. "Intentia can uniquely address the distinct business needs of food and beverage, fashion, wholesale distribution and asset-intensive companies. Generic approaches just won't work."
Service-oriented architecture: A key part of Intentia's plans for Movex3 is to give mid-sized companies the means to realize the benefits of a service-oriented architecture (SOA) while re-using their existing investment in Movex and without the complexity of managing or assembling various web services. The SOA-enabler of Movex3 is code-named ADA--Active Document Adapter, which provides a business process layer for Movex3 applications to interoperate with other SOA-based web services and applications. Intentia points out that because the interoperability takes place at the business logic level, rather than at the code level as with traditional enterprise application integration, it will dramatically improve companies' ability to change processes and connections as their business needs require.
Intentia will leverage its "20 years of expertise in the make, move, and maintain industries" to quickly define all core business integration scenarios with Project ADA. Henrik Billgren, president of Intentia research and development, described the approach as ideally suited for mid-market companies.
"Breaking down bulky enterprise applications into individual services delivers the flexibility benefits of SOA, but in its purest form, implementation complexity and cost is too high for mid-sized companies and would more than offset any gains," Billgren said. "Conversely, larger applications are simpler to deploy but are too rigid for today's dynamic business environment. We believe that Project ADA will enable us to take a sensible approach to SOA that's right for the mid-market by providing both business agility and implementation simplicity."
The ADA platform aims to encourage agile supply chains and adaptable business processes by significantly reducing the time and cost required to make changes. Companies can choose and change business partners based on the ability of those partners to deliver the best product or service, rather than resisting such changes because of the IT hurdles they create. "The smartest thing about Project ADA," Billgren concluded, "is that it again leverages our customers' investment in Movex Java. They can therefore benefit from SOA faster, with less risk and at a lower cost than otherwise possible."
User experience: Intentia is also working with Palo Alto, Calif.-based consulting firm frog design to completely rethink the user experience of enterprise software. The goal is to eliminate the rigidity Intentia sees as being prevalent in the user experience of most ERP systems on the market. The company asserts that this rigidity causes knowledge workers to turn to spreadsheets and other tools that are disconnected from the information in the ERP system. By enabling users to work flexibly within the Movex3 system, Intentia believes customers will foster more enterprise-wide innovation.
"We're declaring war on the traditional ERP user experience," Billgren said. "People should want to go into the system."
Cees van Dok, frog design creative director, said dramatic changes are being driven by careful analysis of users' needs. "We are addressing these needs via a number of new user interface techniques that we believe will dramatically improve both the usability and efficiency of the software and really give Intentia's applications a signature look," he said. "This includes easier navigation within workflows, easy customization of forms, and smart input assistance to help users make faster decisions. It also includes a cleaner visual design that is more customized and focuses the user more easily on core tasks through less clutter and a spacious primary workspace."
Intentia has shared a prototype with users to demonstrate concepts the new Movex3 may include.
"The prototype shows that Intentia understands the real limitations of the user experience of today's ERP systems," said current Intentia customer Herbert Schaffner, general manager, information systems, Olympus Europa GmbH. "I'm enthusiastic about the direction Intentia is headed in freeing users to bring more innovation to their work. I can see how their new approach to the user interface could unlock significant additional value from business applications for better and flexible process support."