The Business Argument
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The Emerging Need for ‘Rubber-Walled IT’
Like any form of eco-system, organizations operate within a context of their environment
– their market-place, their locality, the people that serve them, suppliers that provide raw
materials and services, customers that buy from them. These external factors shape the
way organizations behave. But there are also internal factors that influence behaviors
and how decisions are made such as culture, norms of operating behavior, and
perceptions of what good practice is and should be.
The 20th century was about industry and mechanization. The vision of most business
leaders was to achieve economies through productivity and mechanization, to become
lean and mean; to be excellent at those internal processes that would drive production,
market share and ultimately shareholder value. And most of these organizations, if not all,
operated a command and control structure of management that meant the educated
few directed the uneducated masses. Humans in this picture of a perfect organization
were little more than drones that were to be owned, told what to do and then paid a
salary for their labors.
The 21st century is a different environment. Improved telecommunications, travel
methods, computing and the Internet have all contributed to the globalization of markets.
Seemingly every product or service is within reach ‘at the speed of light’ as Bill gates,
founder of Microsoft® put it. The state of competition has changed with some regions of
the world enjoying advantages in lower cost labour supply, while others benefit from
western world brand leadership. The balance of power rests on adaptability and the
recognition that markets are changing their shape and structure. Traditional Michael
Porter-esque marketing strategy concepts of ‘winning market share’ have been
corrupted by a paucity of examples of markets converging, deforming, transforming - and
with new competitors, those able to leverage their privileged assets and operational
capabilities, emerging from different industries; seemingly appearing from nowhere.
Mechanization has run its course with most organizations are reasonably efficient at
managing their internal processes; generally using the same tools and similar methods to
achieve their outcomes. Competitive advantage is more about adapting to market
opportunities and change FASTER than competitors than it is about sharpening pencils
and cutting resources that support processes down to the bone.
To survive and secure growth in this harsh trading environment, organizations require
adaptive capabilities – rubber-walled buildings that can scale as a business grows,
populated by a rubber-walled talent pool, equipped with rubber-walled IT.
This white paper explains how Encanvas is not competing against programming, but
is displacing the role of programming as a method of applications authoring.
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Norms of Behavior in Software Delivery
The traditional view of applications development has been formed around the concept
of mechanization: creating software applications that automate and formalize internal
processes that rarely change in support of a business model and strategy that rarely
changes. In a new era of market agility, leaders need and expect their IT to become just
as adaptable as their organization needs to be.
One of the inhibitors to change is the fact that the majority of people engaged in the
authoring of software applications today are programmers and yet the activity of
programming – its consequential impact on the time, cost and complexity of authoring
new applications - is itself a barrier to innovation.
A significant challenge of the change facing the IT industry is that the people that need
to shape IT also need to be the same people that are close to the process – and those
traditional skills that were once cherished will by necessity take a back-seat to a deeper
understanding of business needs and processes.
The norms of behavior and attitudes that pervade in departments responsible for
delivering effective information systems have evolved over decades and are unlikely to
change within moments. It is taken as a given that it is less risky to purchase ready-to-use
software applications rather than build them; that larger software companies make better
software than smaller ones; that no software tooling could possibly have the dexterity to
meet broad needs and remove the need for programming. To a large extent it serves the
stakeholders of the IT industry – the large software companies, IT leaders and skilled IT
professionals – to maintain this false status quo and avoid risk of change. But this status
quo does not meet the needs of organizations facing bourgeoning IT costs and a slow
pace of change – or knowledge workers whose business software tools fall short of their
direct needs (and often the quality of applications Users enjoy on their mobile phone!).
In order for change to occur there has to be evidence of ‘something better that works’.
A New Organizational Design
It’s unrealistic to expect change to happen in organizations ‘organically’ when
departmental structures discourage change by operating budgets and incentives plans
shaped around the reality of business activity today.
For this reason, some organizations are today creating improvement teams – so-called
‘organization departments’ – that unite a blend of capabilities needed to affect change
and embed change into organizational culture including performance management,
organizational design, compliance management, human resources management,
project management, business analysis and information systems management. New
tooling is needed to equip these hybrid change teams with the means to shape
technology as they shape processes. Organizations that have adopted this ‘internal
change agency’ approach like Volkswagen Group are achieving a substantially faster
pace of growth compared to industry peers.
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The Evolution of Something Better That Works…
First launched in 2002, Encanvas began as a Live-Wireframe technology platform to
facilitate the authoring of new applications in near-real-time.
Encanvas DX is the third generation of the platform. Its equips organizations with rubber-
walled IT, giving them the ability to grow and shrink according to need without traditional
frictional costs of change. It removes much of the programming overhead associated
with custom applications development and the requirement for many specialist tools
needed to author business applications.
Whilst Encanvas changes the method of design, delivery and operational maintenance
of IT, it does not fundamentally manifest changes in the operating environment: the
applications it produces use the Microsoft® Cloud .NET Platform and standard web
browsers as their conduit to Users. Case studies suggest that the outcome of using
Encanvas is to cut applications time-to-market by at least a factor of ten and it produces
applications and websites that can be as much as ten times cheaper to run.
Organizations may adopt Encanvas as their IT platform of choice for many different
reasons but the key drivers are:
To create right-first-time applications faster – Encanvas is the fastest route to
designing and deploying right-first-time Rich Internet portal and mobile
applications that adhere to modern computing standards and embrace modern
enterprise computing architectures.
To create ‘secure and live’ communities – Encanvas enables organizations to
design and build secure and live online communities with the added ability to
embrace collaborative and social networking tools. Encanvas enables business
processes to work alongside Web 2.0 tools.
To shed costs – Encanvas delivers economies at every stage of the Application
Lifecycle – simulation and prototyping, design, build, deploy, testing, help file
creation, community design, site orchestration, maintenance, fault recovery,
version release management, license management, remote support etc.
To port applications to the cloud – There are many flavors of cloud these days but
essentially all web host deployments today demand the use of Rich Internet portal
technologies (like AJAX, balanced query processing etc.) to create the standard
of usability experience and accessibility that online users now demand.
To install inclusive security – Inclusive security is a modern enterprise security
concept that adopts the position of including everyone in a security framework
that considers the appropriate security provisioning for every role and individual.
Security is critical to the success of cloud computing deployments and Encanvas
provides one of the most secure technology architectures for portal deployments
available in the market today.
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About Encanvas Live-Wireframe
Encanvas means non-programmers can author applications in near real-time within a
workshop environment that directly engages and involves the intended stakeholders of
the application being authored.
How it works:
1. A new workspace is created on Encanvas.
2. A business analyst interviews stakeholders and defines the scope of the application
and shapes the parameters of the workspace (data sources, users and user
groups), requirements for records, processes, reports and meta-tables.
3. The business analyst authors a prototype ‘canvas’.
4. The business analyst and stakeholders meet in a workshop and they walk through
the canvas design, iterate the application. Once satisfied with the outcome the
application is deployed.
5. Stakeholders test the application and feedback change requests to the business
analyst. Changes are made remotely to the site.
6. Once the iterations have been completed, the application is signed off for general
Look-and-feel parameters are pre-defined using a template to comply with a
The design elements of Encanvas are pre-tested for performance tuning and
browser compatibility so there is no need to conduct a testing/tuning phase.
All components of the Encanvas architecture are built with security provisioning in
mind. This means there is no risk of security protocols being unwittingly usurped
during the design process.
Data access security and user permissions management duties remain under the
governance and scrutiny of IT administrators.
As a disruptive technology Encanvas Live-Wireframe creates a step-change in the way
organizations approach how they source new applications for their business making it
more cost effective and less of a risk to design and build new applications than procure
Many of the ‘jobs’ in the lifecycle of authoring new applications are improved or made
redundant by Encanvas. The next section qualifies each of these jobs and the impact of
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2. Live Wireframing Transforms Apps Authoring
The generally accepted key stages of application life-cycle are:
(Platform) Deploy the applications environment
(Design) Discovery and requirements analysis and design definition
(Build) Applications authoring, testing and QA
(Deploy) Documentation and Deployment
(Operate) User acceptance testing
(Optimize) Iteration and optimization
(GR) General release
(Support) Support, monitor and review requirements
Deploy the Applications Environment
The job: Install hardware and software infrastructure
Encanvas orchestrates the formation of private clouds on-demand using parameterized
configuration settings delivered through administration tools. This approach removes the
obstacles of infrastructure setup and configuration.
The job: Protect against data loss/ensure resilience
Encanvas has been developed on the Microsoft® Web Platform and inherits all of the
advantages of Microsoft’s own platform security features designed with large enterprises
in mind. There is also an Encanvas Web Server used to orchestrate the on-demand serving
of pages from Microsoft® SQL Server and other data repositories. This means it’s not
possible for hackers to attack static web pages as they do not exist until served by
Encanvas Web Server™. User Permissions policies are based on the progressive
assignment of permissions unlike other competitive systems that assign Users a standard
level of permissions to then progressively remove them.
The job: Replicate and scale deployments
Encanvas scales painlessly, creating hundreds, if not thousands, of applications and
workspaces from a single integrated platform. Its Web Server Manager cockpit provides
administrators with full visibility over configuration settings. All aspects of deployed
applications are configured through parameterized settings negating the need for
programming or the manual setup of operating environments, log files etc.
The job: Maintain software environment
New applications instances can be created by systems administrators using the
configuration tools of Encanvas Remote(Spaces) without programming or the need to
setup operating systems or applications environments.
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Discovery, Requirements Analysis and Design Definition
The job: Create a Job Definition
Determine scope of use; Determine who will use the application; Determine what core
records and sub-records are required; Determine what processes are actioned by the
application; Determine the data records and tables required; Determine reports required
by stakeholder groups; Determine setup meta-tables.
Encanvas provides an online tool-set for creating a Job Card and Definitions for a
workshop project. It establishes a simple project process where milestones can be
assigned and responsibilities allocated. This builds a record of project actions and
contributions to ensure appropriate governance. The structure of the Casebook builds a
complete picture of requirements. This knowledge of project activities builds as a
casebook for future review and scrutiny so learning lessons can be captured.
3. Why is it better than Programming?
Encanvas is designed to publish the best-fit applications faster than any other means by
enabling Users to work with Designers to iterate live prototypes.
Encanvas inherits a principle similar in concept to Lego® bricks. The pre-formed design
elements used in Encanvas adopt common parameters and interlocking mechanisms so
they can be constructed in many millions of ways and yet they still don’t require
programming. Given that business applications tend to follow a common form, the use
of this augmented tool-kit removes time, risk and complexity from the authoring process.
A more sophisticated and predictable methods-based authoring process augmented by
platforms like Encanvas allow for traditionally arduous and time consuming repetitive
programming tasks to be progressively identified and automated. In the case of
Encanvas, the automation of forms creation, data linking, data connectivity, repetitive
mouse-click tasks, undo-redo actions etc. has reduced application authoring activities
from months, to weeks, to days and in some cases hours and minutes.
The use of a building block style platform for applications authoring also means that
aspects of applications hygiene such as security management, tuning and testing
(particularly browser testing which has become a huge overhead on development
While programming will always have its place in the creation of expert systems, the use of
programming skills and tools to author applications that are variations on a theme is a
poor use of resources and only serves to add unnecessary complexity and risk to process
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software examples and application templates as used as part of the training course is
copyright of Encanvas. All rights are reserved. It is a breach of any copyright if this manual
is copied or reproduced, in whole or in part, using any means whatsoever, without prior
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Encanvas gives no condition, warranty, expressed or implied about the fitness or quality
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make changes to this information or the accompanying software products without notice
to any person or company. Encanvas shall not be liable for any indirect, special,
consequential or incidental damages resulting from the use of this information or the
accompanying software whether caused through Encanvas’s negligence or otherwise.
Encanvas DX, Encanvas Create, Encanvas Information Flow Designer, Encanvas Web
Server Manager, Encanvas Web Server, Encanvas Ring-of-Steel, Encanvas BusinessIntel,
Encanvas Maps, Encanvas Mobile, Encanvas Mashups and Encanvas Live-Wireframe are
trademarks of Encanvas. All rights are reserved. All other trademarks and trade names
used within this file are acknowledged as belonging to their respective owners.
Encanvas is intended for people confident in using software. If you do not feel confident
in using Microsoft® Office applications, you may need further assistance. For details of
courses and availability, visit www.encanvas.com.
For more information about Encanvas DX visit www.encanvas.com
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