Welcome!

Adobe Flex Authors: Matthew Lobas, PR.com Newswire, Shelly Palmer, Kevin Benedict

Related Topics: Adobe Flex

Adobe Flex: Article

Flex and LiveCycle - Platform for Enterprise Success

We have taken the decision to bring together the Rich Internet Application practice with our LiveCycle practice

When I joined Macromedia/Adobe Consulting, my role as Practice Leader was to grow a practice in EMEA around Rich Internet Application technologies. In recent months, we have taken the decision to bring together the Rich Internet Application practice with our LiveCycle practice, reflecting the recurrence in opportunity for us to fuse these client and server technologies together to solve a number of enterprise business problems. As I assume the responsibility to grow this combined practice in EMEA, I'll extend my blogging to share some of the excitement and thinking we have around how the technologies from our Enterprise Developer Business Unit - including Flex, Flex Data Services and the numerous LiveCycle technologies - converge as an enterprise business platform.

I'd like for this blog post to initiate some thinking on what this might mean.

I expect that people who track this blog - by the nature of where it is generally aggregated - are already familiar with Rich Internet Application technologies. I expect these readers already have a strong understanding of the importance and effectiveness of a user-experience that enables consumers, customers, citizens, workers or all manner of other individuals (user is such a non-personal description of the various persona of people who interact with business through a user-interface) to perform their tasks with applications that are not only useful, but usable and desirable.

What is LiveCycle ?
These same readers may not be as familiar however with the LiveCycle suite of technologies. I'm not going to go into exhaustive detail on this suite of technologies, but would highly recommend a browse through the Adobe LiveCycle section of our corporate website. Nor am I going to attempt here to be exhaustive of the business benefits of LiveCycle, but will instead aim to call out some concrete examples of where the fusion of Flex and LiveCycle allows us to tackle even more of the business challenges that our richer and more effective user-experiences have set out to address.

The Business Benefits of RIA...
I'm a great believer in education through example, and understanding through analogy, so let me try and paint a picture of the current landscape.

The ineffectiveness of online application forms not delivering on the promises of 24/7 at-your-leisure access when delivered in a browser, is well understood. Take a mortgage or a loan application from your online bank - these are characterised as frustrating processes that typically employ between 8 and 11 different HTML pages, where each page refresh results in 5% of applicants making an abandonment decision. The problems of page-refresh are well understood - technological frustrations associated with navigating back through an already completed process or session time-outs, user-experience frustrations such as being forced to complete the form in a sequential manner (what I often compare to "reading a book through a straw") rather than more familiar "complete the easy stuff and come back to the hard stuff", or the situation where you need to go and find some supporting information, like your social security number. I can pitch this "failed promise of the Internet" for an hour, so I'll spare you here.

Rich Internet Applications replace these multi-step, complex processes with simpler, easier, more effective single-screen or guided-completion processes, often employing UI metaphors such as the accordion to deliver a user-experience that more effectively matches the interaction patterns of real users.

An analogous problem to financial service application forms, is the same problems manifesting themselves through retail checkout experiences - addressing these problems with RIA have been shown in blind A/B tests to improve the appalling abandonment rates of 75% with increased conversion rates of checkout customers by 50%. So with RIA, we're well on our way to delivering efficiencies through user-experience and design-led solutions that attack the problem from the user's perspective rather than a technology perspective.

I'll talk more of such design-led approaches to RIA solutions in future blog entries.

...fuse with the Business Benefits of LiveCycle
But typically, the rich user-experiences that we deliver with RIA are often the beginning of a more complex document-based process, that inevitably crosses the digital world to a world where people interact through paper.

Let's consider some of these inefficiencies, by returning to our loan application.

Immediately you complete your application (and by replacing that application process with a design-led RIA, there are many more of you that have completed that application compared to the old days of the several HTML forms) you enter the world of workflow, and the world of paper.

In fact, many organisations will insist that you become the protagonist in their paper play. The final step of your mortgage application will often require that you print your application as a form, sign that form, and post that form to the bank.

If you print the form, if you sign it, if you remember to put it in your bag, if you buy the envelope and the stamp and if you remember to post it, then some days later, once your piece of paper has survived the postal system and made it's way to the desk of a loan processing officer, your application is ready to be processed. Electronically. But it's a bit paper. So what are we going to have to do ... that's right, having taken you from the state-of-the-art RIA-enhanced electronic world back to a piece of paper, the very next step is to capture that form information digitally again.

So how will LiveCycle help us here? Well first and foremost, moving seamlessly between the RIA and the PDF world is a simple and obvious fusion of Flex and LiveCycle. One of the key aspects to LiveCycle, is the process of document generation - leveraging technologies such as LiveCycle PDF Generator to automate the creation of PDF files or LiveCycle Assembler to "form-stitch" together document fragments to create customised PDF documents.

More effective however, is to remove the paper-trail altogether, and this is where LiveCycle can really begin to optimise the behind-the-curtain processes in an enterprise RIA solution. In addition to creating a dynamic PDF representation of our application form data, LiveCycle Document Security will enable the customer to digitally sign and encrypt a document before it is electronically submitted to the bank for processing, removing the need for manual rekeying when the document is received.

However, if the bank does require receipt of a paper document with an ink signature, the manual rekeying can still be eliminated. LiveCycle Barcoded Forms automate the capture of user-provided data from printed or faxed forms, by representing that data as a 2-dimensional barcode that can be easily and rapidly scanned, removing the processing and errors associated with manual rekeying of user-supplied data.

Once your loan application is born again as an electronic application form in back-office systems it must be processed; typically this processing is a complex hand-off of your application between different departments, or different people within a department. Perhaps you have to be credit-scored, before your application is then allowed to proceed to the next department, who are responsible for checking your employer references. A gap in your employment perhaps triggers the need for a letter to be sent to you requesting further information - otherwise, your application progresses to a decisioning process that determines the maximum amount of loan you will be offered. You are then sent a letter either approving or declining the loan, and this kicks off another step in the workflow, where your approved loan exists for 30-days. After 30-days, your loan is no longer valid, until another credit-check has been performed. And all the while, you have no insight as to where you are in the loan approval process, or indeed whether your loan has even been received at all.

What we have here, is an example of a complex workflow associated with a transient document - your loan application - as it moves between a variety of systems and people. LiveCycle Workflow Server allows us to streamline these human-centric processes, allowing either the visual or programmatic assembly of "workflows", which allow your electronic application to move quickly and securely through an organisation.

Meanwhile LiveCycle Policy Server could be employed, ensuring that information remains confidential, specifying not only who has access to the document, but what they can do to the document, when they can do that to the document (for instance, once the customer receives their loan approval as a PDF, can they update their mobile telephone number in-site, but not change their address), and for how long they can make these changes. Furthermore, Policy Server will allow all these security policies to be updated even once a document has been issued - revoking access to a loan approval after 30 days, or even confirming that the user has printed the loan application approval, removing the need to send them a paper-copy in the post).

And what of keeping you, the customer engaged ? A Flex application upon a LiveCycle workflow, leveraging Flex Data Services, can offer real-time notification to a user as to the receipt, the progress and the success of their loan application. The enterprise technology stack enables a two-way communication between customer and bank, not a one-way flow of information into a black hole.

And the list goes on...
As I said earlier, I have no desire to be exhaustive in my overview of LiveCycle technologies in this post, but I hope that the above real-world scenario outlines how - effective as a Rich Internet Application can be - we can offer significant additional return on investment when the RIA on the front-end is supplemented with the process automation, document generation and information assurance services that LiveCycle can offer in the back-end.

And it's not just in financial services; think of all the online processes that you have considered that can be improved and innovated upon with RIA technology - not just financial services and online banking, but travel booking, online check-in for flights, retail commerce, making a movie reservation, booking seats at the theatre, hiring a car, submitting your tax return, filing your expenses for approval, etc, etc.

As limited as you are by your imagination, think how many of these opportunities for insanely great user-experiences also result in something physical and tangible in your hand as the result of a process of automations, approvals, workflows or generation of documents.

Like account statements. Like travel itineraries. Like boarding passes. Like movie or theatre tickets, with barcodes that can be scanned at point of sale or point of entry.

Think of how a richer user-experience can not only benefit business with inc reases in conversion rates, increases in the effectiveness of cross-selling and up-selling, increases in repeat-business or increases in customer acquisition through customer evangelism. Think of how a richer user-experience can benefit from the efficiencies of automatic and electronic processing.

Think of the value you can begin to offer your clients, and their customers. Think of how Flex and LiveCycle might work together for you.

Summary
A couple of years ago, I was using the phrase "Enterprise RIA" to define the kind of online applications that could benefit from a richer user-experience while performing complex integration with new and existing systems and infrastructure. The fusion of RIA and LiveCycle dramatically lowers the barrier to delivery of these enterprise RIA, upon a recurring solution platform for enterprise business applications.

I'm tremendously excited about the solution opportunities and business problems our consultants are going to be delivering with the combination of Flex and LiveCycle.

In future blog posts, I'll speak more of how some of these integrations can be achieved technically, whether you are a J2EE architect that wants API-level access to these services, or someone who would rather orchestrate these solutions in a visual development environment, and integrate them with your Rich Internet Applications.

Additionally, I'll be aiming to share some of the leadership our User Experience practice, and RIA and LiveCycle practice consultants are creating around Flex and LiveCycle.

I hope this blog post lifts the lid on a whole new world of enterprise RIA development, while kick starting your thinking about the solutions you could deliver, and the skills you could leverage or the partnerships you could create in order that you are more suitably positioned to deliver these solutions.

More Stories By Steven Webster

Steven Webster is the practice director for Rich Internet Applications at Adobe. Previously, he was the technical director at iteration::two, a world-leading Rich Internet Application consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Webster is the author of Reality J2EE: Architecting for Flash MX and coauthored ActionScript 2.0 Design Patterns for Rich Internet Applications (ActionScript 2.0 Dictionary) and Developing Rich Clients with Macromedia Flex with Alistair McLeod. Steven speaks regularly at conferences and user group meetings on technical and business aspects of RIAs. Steven is the core contributor to the open-source Cairngorm project, a microarchitecture for RIAs based on J2EE patterns which was innovated by iteration::two over a number of Flash and Flex RIA developments.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
The age of Digital Disruption is evolving into the next era – Digital Cohesion, an age in which applications securely self-assemble and deliver predictive services that continuously adapt to user behavior. Information from devices, sensors and applications around us will drive services seamlessly across mobile and fixed devices/infrastructure. This evolution is happening now in software defined services and secure networking. Four key drivers – Performance, Economics, Interoperability and Trust ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
With billions of sensors deployed worldwide, the amount of machine-generated data will soon exceed what our networks can handle. But consumers and businesses will expect seamless experiences and real-time responsiveness. What does this mean for IoT devices and the infrastructure that supports them? More of the data will need to be handled at - or closer to - the devices themselves.
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the USA and Europe, we work with a variety of customers from emerging startups to Fortune 1000 companies.
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Most Influential ‘Smart Cities - IIoT' Account and @BigDataExpo has been named fourteenth by Right Relevance (RR), which provides curated information and intelligence on approximately 50,000 topics. In addition, Right Relevance provides an Insights offering that combines the above Topics and Influencers information with real time conversations to provide actionable intelligence with visualizations to enable decision making. The Insights service is applicable to eve...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi LTD., will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City. Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) will be featuring the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) portfolio. This is the industry’s only offering that allows organizations to bring together object storage, file sync and share, cloud storage gateways, and sophisticated search an...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Analytic. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.