User-centricity: the new buzzword

As the Internet, wireless and other network technologies merge into the ubiquitous Supranet, new destabilizing user-centric business models will emerge. Brokat Technologies hopes to capitalize on this model with its new family of multi-channel products.

It's official. Power is shifting from the enterprise to the end-user in the restless world of e-commerce, and there's no stopping this.

At least this is what Brokat Technologies (formerly Brokat AG) is saying. User-centricity, says Joan Yap, managing director, Brokat Asia, reflects both Brokat's business as well as the evolution of the digital industry.

"User-centricity today is really driven very much by the Internet as well as the growth of wireless technologies. Before this wave to user-centricity, organizations are very enterprise-centric.You hear a lot about information management system and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). With enabling technologies today, businesses must seriously work towards delivering their products and services to the user, whether this is an internal user or their end customer. Enterprise-centric organizations will not be well positioned to maximise the business opportunities that the new world brings," Yap explained.


Brokat's mobile infrastructure software incorporates what it considers to be the three key success factors for m-commerce - mobility (accessible anytime and anywhere), mass adoption (scalability for millions of users) and multi-channel (available through different mediums, from PCs to cellular phones).

"Users must be convinced that they can access to and be provided with relevant products and services instantly. An important consideration is that end-users must not be subject to differences in operations and standards due to disparate systems and service providers. The high proliferation of handphones is a good example of successful mass-adoption. End-users have a choice of different types of handphones to suit their lifestyle and preferences, but are not bothered about how calls are being made as all standard phones work the same way," said Yap.

Brokat technologies enable e-businesses to provide their services in a widely accepted standard and at the same time offer personalization based on users' preferences and business requirements, Yap said. Brokat's first step towards enabling user-centricity power is through Brokat Server Technologies (formerly known as Twister), a multi-channel infrastructure software based on Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE) technology.

The members of this product family integrate existing enterprise back-end and legacy systems and establish secure interfaces between these systems and the Internet, mobile phones and PDAs. Brokat Server Technologies can also track customer contacts across multiple touchpoints, analyze that data and use it to provide personalized services. Yap claimed that with this product, time-to-market for e-business applications can be reduced by up to 75 percent.

To accommodate the demands of a changing market and automate businesses processes, Brokat recommends enterprises to use its rules-based personalization software product - Brokat Advisor. This product came from Blaze Software Inc., a company that Brokat acquired last year.

Rules management technology allows the applications developer to create the business logic as well as design the rules around that logic according to the end-user's wishes. For example, certain perimeters or rules may change in the course of a year-long marketing campaign. Rules-based solutions allow these changes to be made at the business user level, rather than at the applications development level.

"What databases did to systems is what rules would do to applications," Yap enthused. "In the past, programs were developed together with the data. The data is part of the program until databases came along and data became organized in another manner so programs were just concentrated on logic. A lot of programs today are hard-coded. The logic processes and rules are all there. With rules, you can now decouple logic and rules. In this way, rapid response to changes can take place."

Yap added that the bulk of Brokat's customers use Advisor for their logistics, order distribution and internal operation processes, which are processes that change very rapidly.

Brokat has two other product lines - Brokat PaymentWorks (mobile payment software) and Brokat Financial Applications (e-banking and e-brokerage software). When used as a whole, the four product families become an end-to-end solution that delivers informational and transactional services for enterprises.