It has been a couple of months since I first blogged about Office Business Applications and LOBi for Office SharePoint Server and More about LOBi, SharePoint 2007 and Office Business Application (OBA) services .
At TechEd Europe - I attended an interesting whiteboard session together with some members of the Office Business Applications (OBA) team (Joanna Bichsel , Rob Barker, Chris Bryant and Matt Hallett ).
So what is OBA all about - I think a great intro is the blogpost from Erik Ehrli - Office Business Applications - what is it, and how can I get started?
Also take a look at the video on Channel 9 - Office 2007 - Office Business Applications. Basically you should think of OBA as an excellent example of composite applications - these applications will either use the SharePoint UI or Office clients as your primary UI and will use all of the different capabilities of the new 2007 Office System platform such as the Business Data Catalog, search, workflow, Excel Services, the new Open XML formats, the UI extensibility and the different WSS core features such as the web part framework. This cleary positions Office 2007 as a suitable platform for building applications - see Office 2007 the next platform for Business Applications
So why am I talking about crossing the chasm (and no, I'm not talking about the book by Geoffry Moore - allthough I think it is an interesting book)? What I am referring to is the gap between the way that systems work and the way that people work. There have been huge investments in system software such as CRM and ERP systems but these systems are not widely accepted in most organisations because they simply do not fit the expectations of the typical end users - people who spend most of their time in applications such as Outlook, Excel and Word. So what we are waiting for are applications which will enable us to cross this result gap.
There is another post which talks about this issue with another metaphor - talking about the last mile of productivity problem. This post also talks about the different characteristics of this next generation of applications:
· Easy to use – allow users to use familiar and powerful Office clients for information consumption
· Role-Based – are not one-size-fits-all, but have role specific interfaces for greater productivity and decision making
· Collaborative – are collaborative, allowing people-to-people interactions, and address the ad-hoc business activity surrounding a business process
· Configurable – are highly customizable, by end users and IT alike. As the business landscape changes decision makers can customize these apps to adapt and enable the change
· Contextual – allow users to make decisions in the context of business problem(s) they are working on
There are already a couple of examples available one of the better know is the Dynamics Snaps project. I will probably be posting some more stuff about OBA in the future.