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How Rich Internet Apps Will Improve BI, ERP

Do you think rich Internet apps (RIA) are just a concern for consumer Web sites? Think again. RIAs will soon make their mark on the enterprise, making complex software such as ERP and BI systems more accessible to ordinary business users. SAP, for one, has licensed Adobe Flex for its analytics platform and for the NetWeaver Visual Composer development tool.
Do you think rich Internet apps (RIA) are just a concern for developers of consumer Web sites? Think again. RIAs will soon make their mark on the enterprise, making complex software such as ERP and BI systems more accessible and understandable to ordinary business users.SAP, for example, has licensed Adobe's Flex technology for development of its analytics platform and for the NetWeaver Visual Composer development tool. One of SAP's biggest challenges is getting more people within the enterprise to use available licensed seats. It seems it's invariably the ERP guru-types that end up using complicated SAP user interfaces. If app developers and, more importantly, users could create custom interfaces that cater to specific needs, ordinary business would interact with SAP (a theme of the Microsoft/SAP Duet partnership).

SAP's challenge sounds just like the business intelligence power-user barrier and the drive to democratize BI and bring it to ordinary business users. RIAs aren't just about pretty interfaces, as we explore in this week's top story, they're also about intuitive, highly customizable interfaces that can be greatly simplified for specific tasks and processes. RIA is also about delivering desktop-like apps that can be used offline and later resynchronized with back-end processes. In contrast to conventional apps, RIAs can be easily deployed and managed because they don't require physical client installs and updates.

Adobe's Jeff Whatcott does an excellent job of explaining RIA advantages and some of the important ties to enterprise architecture, but you might come away from that interview thinking your developers will have to learn all about Flash, Flex, Ajax and/or Microsoft's Windows Presentation Foundation.

Oracle, for one, is trying to abstract all that complexity for developers, as Ted Ferrell explains, by adding "render kits" for Ajax, Flash and mobile devices. And Oracle certainly won't be alone in attempting to make simplify Web 2.0-style development. As Nelson King explained in last December's review of BEA's Workshop for WebLogic, "BEA is laying the groundwork for Ajax support in future versions by working with companies such as Backbase (an Ajax specialist).

RIAs are clearly an emerging direction for enterprises, but they will take their place alongside composite apps and software as a service, further blurring the lines among these new forms of applications.Do you think rich Internet apps (RIA) are just a concern for consumer Web sites? Think again. RIAs will soon make their mark on the enterprise, making complex software such as ERP and BI systems more accessible to ordinary business users. SAP, for one, has licensed Adobe Flex for its analytics platform and for the NetWeaver Visual Composer development tool.