The consumerization of IT is bringing two significant challenges to IT development shops as the business users gain a greater sense of empowerment. First, business users want their apps right away and will no longer tolerate traditionally long development times. Second, they want more elegant applications like those found on the Web. iRise is providing a potentially transformative technology to the enterprise application development process that addresses these two emerging needs. I spoke with Emmet Keeffe, CEO and co-founder, iRise about their offering.
iRise provides enterprise visualization software for business applications. Visualization allows business units to more effectively communicate their needs to technology teams and give everyone involved the ability to interact with and fully experience applications before they are built. This ability “test drive” applications before building can be a significant time saver in several ways.
First, iRise has made the tool simple enough that business analysts can use it themselves to create a more robust rendering of the requirements than the traditional functional specification. This leads to faster development times and much less need to re-do off-target software. Now analysts can flip the traditional process of paper specs before mock-ups and create a functional mock-up first. Then the spec can be a more accurate and require a smaller set of documentation that simply annotates and augments the interactive visualization, which becomes the primary blueprint for developers. Since the business analysts can do the visualization themselves and do not have to hand off the task to IT, the maddening back and forth that inevitably occurs in order to finalize business requirements is taken out of the process.
Second, iRise has taken visualization to the fullly interactive level so the need for non-functional, static screen mockups is taken off the table. Now user acceptance can be completed before the application is actually built saving significant re-work time.
Third, because of this capability is both easy and quick, modifications to functionality can be done real time in review sessions, reducing the need for cycles of meet – rework – meet again. I have seen these cycles many times and can see the benefit of real time functional modifications. You can see a sample visulization screen below.
The approach represents a radical departure in the way software has been developed over the past thirty years so one of the challenges is getting people to change their old ways. iRise has developed training programs to help both business and IT make the transformation.
This approach has gained good traction in the market and IRise has a number of large clients such as General Motors, UPS, FedEx, Haworth, and Manpower. They have also recently signed a reseller deal with SAP. The SAP® Application Visualization software by iRise, is now a solution extension offered by SAP. This tool supports the blueprinting process by enabling implementation teams to create visuals of end-to-end solutions and functional gaps.
Emmet said there are a number of value propositions operating here. First, SAP users can how see a visualization of the out-of-the-box functionality to have a better starting point to indentify and mock up necessary customizations. They can also show how different applications will work together before starting the integration process. In addition, they can visualize mobile apps meeting a rising need as mobile becomes more pervasive in the enterprise. Customers can also build a library of screen designs that contain company specific standards and that can be re-used as needed. You can see a sample iPad simulation screen below.
I have suffered through a number of overly long enterprise application development efforts using the old school approach and I can certainly see the benefits of visualization for application development. There is also an additional side benefit where I also have direct experience. In the old days, the training people had to wait until the final version of the software was done before they could start, delaying the availability of necessary software training. Now the training can be based on the visualizations and be completed before the software is even ready.