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IWMW 2000: Self Evident Applications for Universities

Slides for the plenary talk on "Self Evident Applications for Universities" presented at the IWMW 2000 event held at the University of Bath on 6-8 September 2000.


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IWMW 2000: Self Evident Applications for Universities

  1. 1. SELF EVIDENT APPLICATIONS FOR UNIVERSITIES Designing for the Extended Enterprise Greg Smart
  2. 2. The Self Service Application • A business model with far reaching implications. • Developed from the convergence of two trends:- – The Internet, which gives us:- • A ubiquitous global network, • A commonly accepted, but relatively limited interface (html). • Lower demands on client processing power. – The ERP Application, which gives us:- • A defined set of rules for transacting business. • A relatively constrained environment, • Linked business processes.
  3. 3. Why Self Service? • Objectives of Self Service applications are typically:- – To reduce cost of processing, • The ‘Captive’ vs the ‘Volunteer’ user, • The Student as Customer, – To give greater choice and flexibility to the ‘customer’, – To reduce the scope for error, – To make ‘the customer’ responsible for the accuracy of their data, – To avoid the need for training.
  4. 4. Self Evident for Self Service • A self service application must be self evident. – Obvious to use, – locally specific, – Readily available (ie through a browser), • Self Evident applications will multiply. • Self Evidence can only be achieved through creating multiple interfaces onto enterprise applications.
  5. 5. Server Centric Applications • We cannot afford to rewrite our business applications to fit this new model. • The server should provide a repository for – Data, – Business Logic, – Inter-application Interfaces. • The server centric model gives:- – A single, stable, reliable code base, – Maintains ‘One Version of the Truth’,
  6. 6. A Window on the Data • Each Self-evident application is an interface into the server application. – It can be replicated and modified to meet different circumstances, – It can use terminology which the user will understand to describe data and processes, – It can be easily modified, without changing the underlying rules, • This promotes interfaces that are content driven
  7. 7. Content Driven Interfaces • The Self-Evident interface is:- – Content Driven:- • Shaped by the Data, • Adopts suitable terminology, – Process Driven:- • Leads the user through the required steps, • Validates data in order to encourage correct completion, – Not Transaction Driven:- • Shaped by the transaction definition, • Assumes the user knows what they are trying to do, • Rejects errors,
  8. 8. The Technology Bit (Non MS) • The elements of a Self Service environment:- – Enterprise Applications • ERP or Best of Breed. – Application Integration • Linking applications at the application server level. • Component applications (EJBs) linked via CORBA. • Messaging and Data Definition. – Transaction Processing • Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation and Durability. • JSP allow a link between htlm or xml interfaces and application objects. – XML/XSL separates data from presentation.
  9. 9. Keep the *!!*?s Out! A direct and immediate link between the user and the data, but that user could be anyone. • Security must provide:- – Authentication • That a person is who they say they are. – Encryption • So that Data is protected – Authorisation • So that people only do what they are allowed to do. • The greatest threat is still from within.
  10. 10. Can Everything be make Self Evident? • Would you want to? • Ask yourself:- – Where are the benefits? – Who are the potential users? • And how many of them are there? – Can we deliver not just data, but information? – Can the interface be Content, not Transaction driven? • What stops something from being Self Evident?
  11. 11. The Experience of Bath • Access to our Finance System (Lawson) – Arrow and Aura, access to financial data for budget holders. – E-Procurement – the web based requisition. • Registrations On Line. – An ambitious project, – Doesn’t follow the model, – But does give a layer of abstraction.
  12. 12. Where will Self Evident Lead Us? • Forces us to confront who our customers are. • What effect on staffing levels and job descriptions? • Blurs the divide between an organisation and it’s customers – Feeds the dis-intermediation process. • Supports the Application Service Provider model – Common processes, different interfaces. • Adds to the Virtual Learning Environment by helping to merge the process of learning and the management of the learning process. • What IS a University?