Daily Archives: April 11, 2007

The Not-So-Wacky (Sourcing) Wiki

This is just a short post to remind you about the eSourcing Wiki that I introduced to you last month in Veni, Vidi, Wiki. More content has been added, including a first draft of Next Generation Sourcing: 21 Strategies to Innovate Sourcing and an initial draft of Center Led Purchasing – and more is on the way in the near future. (An initial cut of wikis on Supplier Performance Management and Supply Risk Management are slated for the near future, as well as the e-RFx & Supplier Management and Next Generation e-Auctions in the Total Value Management Enablers series.)

Even though only seven wikis are available, it is already getting good coverage (which is not surprising since these first seven wikis constitute about 120 pages of content!), including a recent article in Supply & Demand Chain Executive. Furthermore, as pointed out in the article, even though Iasta has a hand in drafting a lot of the initial material (and the Total Value Management Enablers series in particular), in order to keep the site as vendor-neutral as possible, Iasta has lined up a number of top-tier supply chain departments at various universities to contribute content to eSourcingWiki. Furthermore, a significant portion of the content to-date has actually been drafted or edited by yours truly – and I can honestly tell you in this regard, I’m much more concerned about the content then I am on how it reflects on a particular provider’s solutions. (Furthermore, I think it important that every vendor have something to strive for, which, in Iasta’s case, includes fulfilling the eight innovative strategy for sourcing, Guided Sourcing, end-to-end, for starters.)

However, what really makes the site vendor neutral is you! This is a true wiki and any registered user can submit edits to existing wikis or define new wikis and new content designed to advanced the profession of supply and spend management and help their fellow sourcing professionals. So put on your thinking caps, grab your virtual writing instrument, and share the knowledge of your experience. Then it will truly be the community body of knowledge it is designed to be. Just imagine if a whitepaper on sourcing decision support was not written by a single vendor or analyst firm, but a collective body of the best minds in the market how good it could be.

Where’s My UI?

The title of a recent article on the The Future of the Enterprise User Interface by AMR’s Jim Murphy caught my attention. In it, he claims that the user interface (UI) will evolve into a pervasive layer for user interaction in the next five years, extending established enterprise systems to users in their work environments – wherever they happen to be and that it will be an intrinsic part of every company’s architecture while allowing end users a persistent, consistent, and personalized means of accessing, contributing, and delivering information across internal and external sources; structured and unstructured systems; and business, personal, and community services.

He then goes on to characterize the new UI, which will be:

  • Rich
    graphically intuitive
  • Pervasive
    consistent, reliable, secure access
  • Continuous
    users will be able to switch between access points and pick up where they left off
  • Contextual
    information and services will be presented based on context
  • Personalized
    users will have their own portals to publish and consume content and services
  • An Extension of Identity
    users will be able to establish a holistic sense of identity
  • Interface-Free
    interface tools will expand
  • Information Intelligent
    users will be able to use their native language to ask questions and get answers

Which is not only where interfaces are heading, but where they are today!

  • Microsoft is trying to do with Vista what Apple has been doing with the Mac OS X for years, and make interfaces usable
  • Most on-demand applications now provide a consistent, reliable, and secure service whose availability is only limited by availability of the underlying connection
  • Some leading on-demand applications and portals are including contextual sensitivity that remembers where the user was and returns the user to that point the next time she logs in
  • Some portals now push content based upon where the user is in the workflow
  • A host of free and low-cost platforms now exist on the web for users to publish and consume content and services
  • Leading web-sites now allow users to establish their own identify
  • Interface tools are expanding daily. Creating a web page is now child’s play. Back in the day, it was a monumental programming task.
  • Researchers are making tremendous progress in natural language interfaces.

In other words, although the title caught my eye, the article itself left something to be desired. In five years, the UI should progress well beyond where it is today. Now, I should point out that the article was focussed on the enterprise UI, and it is a fact that traditionally enterprise applications have significantly trailed consumer applications in user interface advancements, but with the recent surge in on-demand applications and the current push by many leading companies to move to web 2.0 “community” applications, I am of the belief that any software company that waits five years to upgrade its UI to these capabilities will not be around in five years. The new workforce is much more technically competent and used to a “networked” world. I don’t think they’ll wait five years for you to catch up. So, although I agree that the enterprise of the future will be rich, pervasive, continuous, contextual, personalized, an extension of identify, interface-free, and information intelligent, I believe that future will come much sooner than Mr. Murphy seems to imply.