Thursday, November 5, 2009

OpenSpan - Smarter Contact Center Desktops

Yes, that's our new theme.

OpenSpan simply makes applications you already use, or have just brought - SMARTER. You don't even have to own the app to make it smarter.

Here's some early news on what's coming very very soon.

1. I still can't tell you the number one item yet, but in a few more weeks, you will find out - but it's BIG, VERY BIG, so keep watching :)

2. If you are a Microsoft Visual Studio developer, the next release of OpenSpan runs as a VSIP plug-in for Visual Studio. If you are not a Visual Studio developer, don't worry we still have a solution for you. As part of the download, we will bring down a free version of the Visual Studio shell which then enables VSIP plug-ins like OpenSpan Studio to run. It's very cool how we have integrated the best of OpenSpan Studio with the best of Visual Studio (you can now even design your own UI forms and dashboards in Visual Studio directly and have them be part of any automation!). OpenSpan Studio is easier to use than ever so feel free to ping me and I'll give you a link to an advanced pre-beta. Remember too, if you develop in IBM's Lotus expeditor, our Studio runs inside that too as an OWC plug-in for expeditor. Oh, so many design choices now :)

3. Oh, I love this. OpenSpan is exposing all of it's adapter elements and design time components for external developers to access directly from their own code. Whilst the visual drag-and-drap workflow/design paradigm of the OpenSpan studio is loved by developers and business analysts world-wide, die-hard programmers can now write say in C#, to interact in real-time with the objects created and exposed by OpenSpan. You will be able to write your own wrappers to 3rd party applications or even write code to wrap OpenSpan automations. Properties methods and events as well as automations are fully available through our Code Dom Serialization project (the tech term for this major feature). This is big and significant for die-hard developers and OEM partners.

4. OpenSpan Events has already been released but here is what's new;

..* Fully configurable to use MS-MQ, TIBCO, JMS, IBM-MQ or Web Services as per your preference
.. * Now support's generic events as well as custom events
Generic events will enable you to log all application activity, including all objects inside that application
without any interrogation of the objects in the application. OpenSpan Events automatically finds all
visibile and invisible objects and reports anything the application or user does with those objects to the
Analytics database for any drill-down graphical reporting and dash-boarding.
Custom Events then allows you to create your own events that get logged to the analytics database, so for
example, if you want to log a start transaction like, new account, change address, mortgage application, they
will all be sent to the analytics engine for advanced analytics around user activity on the desktop.
..* New Server-Side Components for Collection, Transformation and Loading of Events Data. Supports SQL
Server and Oracle databases
..* Developer mode to enable developers who license the OpenSpan Events to interact directly and/or bypass
messaging components so you can interact with OpenSpan events in any mode you desire.

As you can see, a lot is happening here at OpenSpan and there's a lot more to come. We continue to listen to our customers and partners and excited by our world-leading position in this space. Keep watching..

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

OpenSpan on at AppExchange

Cloud and/or SAAS applications are great but they tell only part of the integration story. How do you automate a workflow across two cloud applications? It's not easy. Fact. Then say, these web apps (Typically Cloud and SAAS run in a browser) need to work with other applications running on the desktop - other web apps, Java Apps, Mainframe apps, Windows Client Server/Rich Client apps. The announcement today with highlights very clearly that OpenSpan is truly making it easy for users and parters alike to bridge their automated workflows across any kind of application. Cool. We are about the only desktop productivity tool that opens our product up to the full scrutiny of our customers, so you can see/try before you buy. Not only are our demonstrations now online as recordings, you can now go to our sand box evaluation environment to run your own trial, up in the Amazon cloud.

Believe it or not, this is NOT the big Game Changing Event I was talking about in the last blog post but this is still pretty darned big. So you can imagine, just how big the soon to be coming new announcement is going to be :) keep Watching...

Friday, August 14, 2009

OpenSpan Game Changing

A couple of snippets to end the week. First, if you didn't see this press release yesterday, I advise you go take a peak. Teletech to Implement, Resell OpenSpan. I am sure that many of you have realized by now, that OpenSpan has a product that not only enables its direct customers to optimize their desktops BUT extends to organizations that don't even own the software they use (BPO, SAAS, Cloud). Whether you are an OpenSpan customer, an SI, A reseller, an OEM or now even a BPO, our product is so agile, it fits all channels. That's the advantage of having a great product that does not requires massive services. Such is the ease of use and flexibility in the product, the solutions built in OpenSpan can adapt to changes that occur in the business at any pace.

Another note, I cannot say too much about. WATCH THIS SPACE. OpenSpan will be announcing a game changing event in the very near future. I won't say too much other than to wet your appetite :) So, keep watching..

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Automation is key to an optimized work force

Without a doubt, many of our customers see significant benefits when they automate their end user tasks. Some customers have seen over $25m a year in time savings in their first automated solution rolled out to their users. This stands to reason though. Given the incredible manual steps needed to be undertaken by users to say, cancel a credit card, open a new account, initiate a wire transfer, open a new mortgage (the list goes on). Sometimes we see hundreds of manual steps across multiple applications and the user spends more time at the keyboard figuring out the next step than they do helping the customer get more from their organization.

Simple logic says, if you can automate these workflows, which for years have been mostly manual, the benefits are huge. Time saving, reduced training time, elimination of errors, happier customers, more up-sell opportunity and all the related "stuff".

But user applications up until now lack the ability to be automated. Even new web applications and portals lack the ability to take data out of or into other systems without heavy IT investment up front. Multiply that by the fact they are probably still running some mainframe, client server and java apps as well and it is easy to see why most users are manual users.

OpenSpan has really changed that. We have a vast number of users, now running automated workflows in large and small mission critical environments. Each day, I am constantly amazed by the types of use cases our users are using us for. There is now almost no limit to what end user tasks can be automated. Cool.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

UI in the Cloud

How do you differentiate as to what is a cloud application and what is a client server application (thin client or fat client). Does it really matter?

There are so many plug ins for the browsers now, along with so many browser incompatibilities I feel nothing much has really changed. You could argue, and I will, browsers are just fat clients. Enterprises have to do so much QA before rolling any web app into production, it really is just a client server app in all sense of the word(s). Sure, the user perceives the application runs in the browser and nothing is installed on the client but that's really a mirage. Under the covers, all sorts of technology is loaded on demand to run client side. And all the browser vendors want to win the browser war...and break the standards - and we know how long this war will go on !

Not only that, but we are YET AGAIN confusing the users with so many different types of web applications that pretty much all behave differently in terms of UI consistency. Even the same applications behave differently in different browsers and the UI for each is pretty much all over the place. My wife is confused as to when and when not to hit backspace (you can lose everything you typed in many web apps if you are not careful), she can drag and drop in GMAIL now but in no other web app she uses but that doesn't stop her trying and getting tied in knots. UI standards are out the window now! Only one sad consistent remains - copy and paste (and even that was left out of the Iphone - for a while - LOL).

So, my opening question, does it really matter? I think it does. This is exactly HOW we created so many legacy applications that we are forced to support today so we have learnt very little. This is great for OpenSpan because we offer capabilities for normalizing and automating cross-application workflows across most application platforms (Fat, Thin, Web, Java, windows, Host or whatever) but thats not the point of this post. Where are we going wrong? I know applications that were written and then rewritten within just 5 years of each other and are now completely legacy today. i.e. no new development but no replacement being built (no IT budgets). I know, because we are bridging them to work with newer technologies. BTW - I said 5 years ago, but we have some users with 30 year old apps and 1 year old apps as well, in exactly the same boat!

I think my point is further validated when you look at the huge difference between web (cloud) applications and their user interfaces. They all seem so different. Take GMAIL. You could fairly argue, it's a terrific UI and Google have done a marvelous job making a dumb browser run what looks to be a very clever RICH client application. BUT - look at the resources GOOGLE has, few companies have the development / QA budgets that Google has (and Enterprises cannot afford to have applications 2-3 years in Beta to iron out bugs!). And to be fair, email is not as mission critical as losing a mortgage payment, medical diagnosis, wire transfer or interest calculation. We are used to losing emails like things get "lost in the post" (or junk folders).

I will write more on this subject I am passionate about (can you tell :) ).. But let me end with this for now. We all talk about how the pendulum swings, about every 10 years, right ? Well, in my view, the next pendulum is someone coming up with the next SUPER 4GL (RAD) development environment that allows cloud applications to be built quickly, full transaction roll-back-roll-forward, deploy anywhere, on-demand, run locally (and with core business logic when connection down) and all, so much more... it might be Silverlight, it might be Chrome or it might be something from nowhere (it might already be here and I missed it :)).. but it'll be here soon!

For me, whatever it's built on, I can guarantee, in a few months or a few years, it'll be another legacy app that'll need my help!

Monday, July 6, 2009

OpenSpan BPO Services Partner Program

One thing for sure, as a BPO, is that you are often running other people's applications. We all know it's hard to optimize what you own, let alone doing that with someone else's application. This is one of the key reasons we established the OpenSpan BPO Services partner Program.

OpenSpan can get inside nearly any application that runs on the desktop and expose all of it's UI elements as an extremely robust API you can do what you like with. Whether you own that application or not. We don't need the source code to do this!

That means, for any BPO running someone else's application, you can automate it to your hearts content. Cumbersome agent workflows can be made highly efficient using the OpenSpan Studio that we train the BPO development/IT teams how to use. Using the visual drag and drop designer you can optimize these agent workflows in short order and start rolling out to their desktops rapidly.

Game changing for any BPO - Robust Integration and automation on the desktop.

See this press release for STREAM GLOBAL SERVICES. A world class BPO on the OpenSpan program.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Injecting and Turkeys

No, we are not talking about injecting beer into a turkey but we are talking about the latest blog post by our VP of Development, Damon Lockwood. I wouldn't do his post justice by paraphrasing any more of it. So, please enjoy..

Do it On the Desktop

I will be back shortly myself after a little absence of blogging! Hope you missed me!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

BI tools, extended to the desktop

OpenSpan announces it's new tool that now enables all desktop applications to participate in the BI world. OpenSpan Events

More often than not, user desktops, where end users spend most of their time, are left out of any reporting or analytics. And yet, it is this very activity that drives most server, transactional and network activity. It could be argued, the correlation to what the end user is doing on the desktop, is a key metric that brings the big missing piece to BI reporting.

Sure, server side BI is important but imagine those BI reports showing up with detail too of the desktop applications and user activity, putting everything in context. Imagine spotting network slow-downs, or increases in transaction volume related to what users are doing within the applications on the desktop. Perhaps the users are spending more time in cloud applications that you have little control over and yet has a big impact on network performance. Perhaps a new discount or up-sell program means your users are spending 30% more time in different desktop applications than before or doing 3 mainframe searches instead of just 1. All of these things will effect the BI reporting on the server, but until now, you never really knew why,

I liken this to Google Analytics, but OpenSpan events is for any desktop application, not just web, and of course, for applications running on the desktop and for those running inside OR outside of the firewall.

Now, all user activity on the desktop, down to the click of a check box, the time an application is utilized, or even the monitoring of usage of applications you maybe didn't even know about, can be logged by OpenSpan desktop Events. There's a ton of use cases we are seeing for this and now it's here. Enjoy and feel free to comment.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

OpenSpan Update

I have not blogged here in a while but promise to try better. For now, here's an update for everyone..

I am proud of the fact that OpenSpan has this year won, not one, but two finalists CODIE awards. Being placed alongside companies like Adobe and Salesforce in the finals is reward in itself. The awards were (I sound like someone from BAFTA or the Oscars) for the two categories, BEST BUSINESS PRODUCTIVITY SOLUTION and BEST WEB SERVICES SOLUTION.

OpenSpan also announced the doubling of it's revenue in 2008 and deployment to 100,000 desktops. Desktop Productivity solutions have never been more in demand than they are now. Enterprises have immediate needs to make their existing desktop applications more productive for their users and OpenSpan hits that sweet spot. Not forgetting all of the M&A activity in financial services, the demand for automating workflows across multiple silo'd applications is high.

If you have not seen our new Web site, please check it out. OPENSPAN - it's more than a makeover, it's putting clarity on our successes and our positioning. I love it. Good Job team.

Lots of exciting news happening in 2009 - and I mean LOTS so watch this space for more details. i will also try to wet your appetite on what is coming, over the next few weeks!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Wrapping Legacy Applications - IT JUST WORKS

A legacy application is not just an 80x24 green screen. It can be;

* A windows Client Server, fat client or thin client application
* A web application plain old HTML
* A web 2.0 Application, script, Java, ActiveX (with embedded widgets)
* A Java applet or Java Application
* A custom application (, Oracle Forms, Lotus Notes)
* Packaged Applications

You get the point. If it’s deployed live, it’s legacy.

So, for years we have wrapped green screen applications successfully to enable their business functionality to be consumed by other technologies. Heck, many of your ATM transactions are just plain wrappers on mainframe applications and screens. The good thing about this approach is - IT JUST WORKS (my new motto). So, wouldn’t it be nice if we could “wrap” any application like this, not just 80x24 screens but all the "other" stuff. Well, now we truly can. OpenSpan Studio enables virtually anything that runs on the Windows O/S to be wrapped – exposing the deep UI elements, controls and transactions (robustly and securely) to any mid-tier technology. You can even take any of those legacy applications and move them to the server room (thanks to Virtualization) and run them completely without a user ever needing to see them again! SOA enablement of legacy applications - it's here now.

This approach is crucial is 2009 for delivering quick solutions to the business. IT JUST WORKS.

So, whether the application is 5 minutes old, or 30 years old, if it has a UI, there’s a good chance it will be part someone’s SOA / API strategy in the very near future. Thanks to OpenSpan :)

Look at this quote from an Article on SOA in the SDTIMES last year if you needed any further proof.

The survey found that a majority, or 58 percent, of SOA systems contain components that are not designed to be interoperable as Web services. These include components that use non-SOAP messaging, such as IBM WebSphere MQ and Java’s Remote Method Invocation. Further, mainframe applications show up in 47 percent of SOA applications, and packaged applications accounted for 68 percent of components.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

OpenSpan partners with IBM

Had quite a few people ping me today since this great news hit the wire.

I was in Orlando this weekend and attended the IBM Lotusphere 2009 event. Whow, that was a big turnout. What we were demonstrating was interrogating components of Windows applications right within Lotus Expeditor and enabling you to wire any of these UI elements to any of the other Lotus API's, portlets and components within Expeditor.


Also, OpenSpan has achieved Advanced Level World-wide Business Partner status within IBM's PartnerWorld.

This continued expansion of the OpenSpan reach through partners like Software AG, Microsoft, IBM and Tibco is proof that the OpenSpan desktop integration technology is not only necessary, but in demand. Broad Integration techniques is key to successfully unifying user applications on the desktop and having them interact with other client applications and server components, regardless of underlying platform technology. We are pleased to have IBM on our team :) And of course, being on the IBM team.

Another useful link talking about the IBM Expeditor product can be found here : Using IBM Expeditor toolkit to extend IBM Lotus Sametime

Of course, I'd be amiss if I didn't point out this news story too : IBM bucks gloom with rosy outlook

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Creating an API into any desktop application

I blogged today about what makes an application a legacy application (see link Below).

I am fanatical about Desktop Apps needing API's to increase productivity for users. You going to see me write a lot more about this in 2009 because I believe if there was ever a time for people to recognize that desktop API's can provide rapid and massive ROI, it's now.

I started questioning when and why developers stopped building API's into client (Fat or Thin) applications.

HLAPPI was created to enable mainframe applications to have an API and created significant productivity enhancements on the desktop. Around the same time, with similar benefits, Microsoft Office came out with DDE which was an API for Office apps. I am (was) a very experienced DDE programmer (eek). DDE was pretty bad and probably gave Desktop Application Integration a bad name (there was no error checking at all). MS OFfice came out a few years later with OLE which was a lot more robust. Then came Visual Basic Macro's for Office. DDE, OLE and VB are all desktop productivity API technologies that have been very widely used over the last 15+ years and there is no doubt, led the way in Office / Desktop Productivity.

Funny, all of these are in still in wide use today. However, enterprise users use more than just mainframe and office applications developed internally or packaged. Yet few of these other technologies support any other kind of API except POCAP (Plane Old Copy and Paste).

Imagine, any existing (old or new) desktop application being given it's own, "instant-on" API. Even if you don't own the application or have the source code to it! And better, unlike Visual Basic, you create the API yourself with a simple Drag and Drop Visual designer technology and better still, the API can be exposed as an SOA Web Service (REST or SOAP) so any other newer technology can consume and integrate it in minutes.

OpenSpan studio does just that. It opens up all of the 100's of 1000's of desktop applications running in the enterprise today, for integration. Once we give these applications their own API (which can be instantly), the power of integration and automation is yours for the taking. It might have taken over 15+ years to realize that API's in these applications are invaluable and key to productivity gains, but at least we are here now, finally with a working product that enables it.

What makes an application a legacy application?