Yesterday Richard MacManus had a blog post about a report out of Forrester regarding the use of RIAs in "Information Workplaces". I got a copy of the report and it's a good read. As far as I can tell, Information Workplaces are kind of advanced data dashboard applications. According to the Forrester report these kinds of interfaces were typically built as enterprise portals in HTML or were set up as very Microsoft Office oriented user interfaces. The report indicates that RIAs are being used more and more for these enterprise, employee facing applications. As Richard notes in his post, the data was collected from a number of RIA firms including Curl, Adobe, Microsoft, OpenLaszlo and Nexaweb. But the report also got data/information from SAP, Oracle, and IBM, so it hit a decent side of the enterprise market.
The reason for the move to RIAs in employee facing apps were things we've been talking about for a while. One big reason was the design aspect of RIA technologies. These are applications that people will be spending a lot of time in and are sometimes the first things employees look at when they get to work. Being able to design a customized, malleable interface that looks good is important. The interactivity of RIA technologies was mentioned as a significant factor. Being able to move data around and change the way it's displayed is a valuable feature. Instead of moving between screens, the employees can adjust the interfaces and the data so that it fits their task at the time.
One benefit I hadn't really considered until reading the report was using RIAs to get better workers. The report describes the appeal:
Engaging next-generation, technology-savvy workers. Better Information Workplaces don’t just make customers happier, they improve the quality of work life for employees because processes are simplified and people aren’t doing pointless, redundant work. Plus, when service employees are better equipped to provide accurate answers to client queries, quickly turn around completed loan applications, or process an insurance claim in a timely fashion, it reduces the stress that irate customers can create. All of this leads to a better work environment where it’s possible to retain top talent.
We are starting to see a lot of traction in the enterprise when it comes to but customer facing and internal applications. That follows a natural trend of adoption but in some cases I think the enterprise is finding RIAs even more valuable than the consumer space. There is a lot of money to be made as older systems are upgraded with RIA solutions. That also means there could be room for more RIA technologies than most people think.