Using old apps? New approaches for application modernization
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A growing number of organizations are turning to the cloud to meet business needs, experts say. Research firm Gartner predicts cloud office system adoption will surpass 30% by 2017. To that end, cloud-based business process management tools, such as dynamic case management (DCM), may also increase in popularity.
In order to realize all the benefits DCM has to offer, it's important the technology is used in appropriate situations. CEO Glen Schrank and Chief Marketing Officer Brian Anderson of Eccentex Corporation, an enterprise-grade cloud applications and services provider, discussed the company's Platform as a Service (PaaS) AppBase offering and how it aims to help organizations overcome market challenges.
What is the biggest market challenge you face?
Glen Schrank: The biggest challenges in our market are described as dynamic case management, adaptive case management or advanced case management. Classically, if a customer wants to build applications, they have to acquire component technology that requires a content management product along with other component technologies. The challenge is a bunch of disparate component technologies built on a client server that is hard to pull together for an application. It can take nine- to 18-month cycles of application building and a lot can change in that time.
Brian Anderson: Another key component is that technology is architected for formal processes where the middle part had a very structured approach, but now more work is done on [an] exception basis or is milestone-driven. Historically, technologies required you to program around every possible use case, which was very cost-prohibitive from a development perspective.
Do you see these challenges changing in the future?
Schrank: We are addressing the market challenge of the cost of solutions, how hard they are, and how long it takes to implement them. In the future, changes will be more milestone-driven and more knowledge-worker based. The challenges will accelerate and the world is changing.
Anderson: Another challenge is a direct result of bring-your-own-device and work-from-home debates. The average worker says they want to use 'my toys my way,' but obviously companies need to deal with governance and regulations. There is a parameter [that] people have to work under, but there is still a lot of latitude to be more effective.
What type of professionals use AppBase?
Anderson: It's really the white-collar workers, the largest portion of the workforce. This space is now 12 to 15 billion depending on whom you are talking to. Our approach is taking a cloud -- specifically a PaaS -- approach, which gives two benefits. One, it allows people to work where they want, how they want. It allows the companies to attract the best talent regardless of location, but still control what they're doing, how they doing it and when they're doing it. Also, rapid application deployment. Since we have an app library and app templates, people don't have to go off and do big 18-month coding projects.
In what use cases would AppBase be applied to solve business problems?
Anderson: AppBase is mainly used in knowledge-based user situations for milestone-driven work. There are a lot of different scenarios, but what is unified across all scenarios is the capricious nature of what needs to be done.
If you think about the average employee, it's not just the manufacturing assembly line worker who is in fact a white-collar office worker. The majority of their work requires them to determine what tasks to do and when. It's not as much process-driven anymore as well as procedure- or project-driven. That is what we are addressing, that is what we see as the big change from a competitive perspective.
It comes back to empowering business executives to do the job that in the past required IT.
chief marketing officer, Eccentex
Which products in the marketplace compete with yours?
Schrank: There are really three types of competitors in our space. The first class of competitor is the historic business process management (BPM) or content manager player who is now trying to cloud-wash its technology and move into unstructured work.
The second-class competitor is a close adjacency to ours; it's a company like Appian. They have a true cloud case service and they've done pretty well trying to address a similar market. Or you have vendors who are doing it in a highly vertical fashion, where they have a very specific Software as a Service (SaaS) approach as opposed to a PaaS approach.
The third class of competitors are companies who say they are going to build it themselves. There are a lot of tools out there and people think if they just buy a BPM tool, and a content tool, and a search tool, and a SaaS tool, then magically they work together, and unfortunately that is far from the truth.
What is your company's roadmap for adding enhancements? What would those enhancements be?
Anderson: It comes back to empowering business executives to do the job that in the past required IT. More and more of what we are trying to put into our cloud solutions is the ability for a business analyst to assemble widgets or look at a screen and say, 'I want this here and this there,' instead of calling IT.
With AppBase, we really want to add an app library like Salesforce did to the app exchange. Right now we have about 25 apps in the app library, and that was just from expanding a couple of months ago. As case management kicks off more, it will go from tens, to hundreds, to thousands, and our roadmap is to facilitate those promptly with vertical expertise to create more applications on our PaaS platform.
Editor's note: This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Maxine Giza is the associate site editor for SearchSOA.com and can be reached at email@example.com.