By Misha Vaughan, Oracle Applications User Experience
This is the fourth in a series of blog posts on the user experience (UX) highlights in various Oracle product families. The last posted interview was with Jeremy Ashley, Vice President, Applications User Experience, on simplifying Oracle’s applications experiences. In these posts, you’ll see themes around productivity and efficiency, and get an early look at the latest mobile offerings coming through these product lines.
Today’s post is on Oracle E-Business Suite. To learn more about what’s ahead, attend Oracle E-Business Suite OpenWorld presentations.
This interview is with Nadia Bendjedou, Senior Director, Product Strategy.
Q: How would you describe the vision you have for the user experience of E-Business Suite, for both the application and the framework?
A: Our vision for the EBS user experience is to be productive, personalizable, modern, and feature-rich. The things we have done which resonate with customers include improving our productivity. We have done that by reducing the number of clicks, and reducing redundant windows and pop-ups.
We have streamlined our workflows and business processes. Instead of having four to five screens to do a particular transaction, we have reduced that to two screens, for example.
Moving the navigator to the global header solved a number of issues. Customers have more real estate on the home screen -- which now allows them to personalize the home screen to include relevant information for them. Also, users can get back to the global header no matter where they are. This is accessible from everywhere; you don’t need to go back to the home page. This is an incredible improvement.
Another feature is the "look-ahead" search and inline list of values. In the past, you would need at least three screens to choose a value from a list of values, and this involves two round trips to the server. Now, with the inline list of values, you type the first letter and the list filters, a second letter and the list reduces. This is a great user experience feature that our customers really appreciate.
All these features are part of the productivity vision that we have -- streamlined work flows, the navigator, and the inline list of values.
Personalization capabilities are a part of making the product easy to use by the end users, not necessarily by the administrator. For example, we want to give end users the ability to personalize the screen so that users can re-order columns and fields on the screen. These are just some of the things we are doing on personalization. We are adding a lot more in the next releases, and you will see that highlighted at OpenWorld as part of 12.2.
Modern and cutting edge: We are revamping what the user interface will look like in the next release. This would include improving the productivity of components like the table, the search, the h-grid. This is part of an overall revamping, bringing a modern sensibility to the visual style. We are getting it closer to Fusion because customers will be using Fusion, and we want that experience to be seamless. Whether they are in Fusion Talent Management or E-Business Suite self-service HR, they should not see that much difference in the user interface. This is much better for our existing customers.
The new E-Business Suite Navigator
Q: Are any UX highlights more popular than you expected them to be?
A: The list of values (LOV) and the global header. I didn’t think customers would be so impressed by this, but they really are. An end user doesn’t want to have to leave their context to navigate, and the global header is accessible everywhere. The LOV is hugely popular. The inline popups where you have a person's name and you can see the person's detail instantly. Customers love how we have paid attention to the smallest details.
The new inline LOV for EBS
Q: How are you approaching mobile user experiences in Oracle E-Business Suite?
A: We are addressing mobile in EBS in two ways. One, we are certifying all of the Oracle Application Framework (OAF) capabilities on the iPad. This means that we are running OAF with Safari. Once we do this, customers can use our OAF screens on an iPad. Of course, an iPad has limitations like no file system, and no scroll bar. However, we are giving customers the opportunity to run OAF pages with an iPad. All of the self-service applications will now be able to run on an iPad. Customers can run their self-service HR on an iPad, or self-service procurement.
The second thing we are doing is building native tablet functionality that could be for iPhone, iPad, Android, or other devices. We have selected where it makes sense to do this, for example, field service products. You have field service going on the road somewhere to fix an asset. Mobile functionality makes a lot of sense here. We will be highlighting this as well at OpenWorld.
Q: What else are you working on now that you think is going to be exciting to customers at OOW?
A: The biggest thing we are doing at OpenWorld is Endeca integration with Oracle E-Business Suite. Endeca is really going to take the user experience to another level – it will be about changing the way we use the apps. If you have booked a hotel online or shopped online, you will see the same guided navigation and filtering. That is going to be the landing page for most of our products and modules. So users will have an intelligent home page. It is a delightful combination of search, performance, scalability, and business intelligence on structured and unstructured data. This is something we don’t have today in any application.
This screenshot shows an example of Endeca integration with Oracle E-Business Suite.
Q: What else do you want customers to know?
A: There are a couple of things that we are working on, online patching and moving to Fusion Middleware 11g, that will impact the user experience.
Online patching will be a signature feature of 12.2. This will allow customers to patch their system while their system is operational. The user will be able to carry on with their work and the system will not be down. If the system is down, your workers are unproductive.
In 12.2, we are moving to the latest Fusion Middleware 11g, and we will be running on the weblogic server. We are redefining our technology stack in 12.2; it is a technology shift.
Editor’s note: For more on Oracle E-Business Suite user experience highlights, visit the Usable Apps web site.
To find out more about these enhancements at OpenWorld, check out these sessions:
CON9027 Personalize and Extend Oracle E-Business Suite Applications with Rich Mashups
CON9026 Oracle E-Business User Interface: Rich and Mobile OA Framework Applications
CON9118 Mobile Solutions for Oracle E-Business Suite Applications: Technical Insight
CON9116 Extending the Use of Oracle E-Business Suite Endeca In-Memory Accelerator
For more information on Nadia Bendjedou, see her story.