IFS Labs, the research and development unit dedicated to developing future functionality for business applications, is taking inspiration from social applications such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype to make IFS Applications more user friendly and efficient.
As global businesses get more complex, IFS recognizes that the IT applications that support them need to do the exact opposite—help simplify the process of capturing and sharing information within a business. With IFS WikiHelp, IFS Talk and IFS Communicator—the latest ‘proof of concept’ features from IFS Labs—users can comment, participate in discussions and search databases as you do Google, all within a secure environment.
Unlike existing social media tools, which are accessible to all, IFS Labs’ social media tools have been developed to bring social media functionality to the business environment with built-in security. Users do not need to leave the core system to find relevant information, so all information is contained and only available to IFS Applications users.
David Andersson, Director of IFS Labs commented, “Today, users expect the same functionalities from their ERP system as they use in their personal lives. It makes sense to embrace the look and feel of the applications people are most familiar with in order to improve the usability of our own business solutions. Enterprise applications are only as powerful as the information that resides within them, therefore making them familiar and easy to engage with is critical.”
The latest features currently under development at IFS Labs are aimed at improving team collaboration and communication as well as information and knowledge capture in a user-friendly way.IFS WikiHelp:
- Allows users of IFS Applications to help each other solve issues internally by collaborating on a central knowledge repository similar to consumer knowledge hub, Wikipedia.
- Keeps company-wide information strictly safe but available within a business.
- Enables users to update or submit new information, ask questions and search for existing data without having to leave IFS Applications.
- Creates a company memory which benefits from the collective knowledge of peers.
- Captures information similar to the wall on Twitter or Facebook but is secure and only searchable within IFS Applications.
- Enables real-time collaboration with peers by posting thoughts or queries onto this dedicated area, called a post or ‘Scribble,' within IFS Applications. Input can be entered directly in IFS Talk from any form where an issue or question occurs.
- Automatically embeds a link to the specific data query to ensure it retains its context and filters posts according to subject preference, with only the Scribbles of interest made visible.
- Allows the creation of IFS Talk Groups by project managers, by customer account, or a selection of peers within the organization, so questions and comments can always be directed to the right set of people.
- Makes collaboration within IFS Applications, and between users and external agents such as customers, easier and more user-friendly
- Draws on tools from existing familiar networking tools such as Skype or MSN Messenger to enable real-time communications and collaboration so users work together more efficiently and effectively
- Permits collaboration and communication within IFS Applications without having to exit the system or look for data or contact details
David Andersson concluded, “At the moment these new features are in the development stage, but we are completely committed to setting new standards in enterprise application design and usability for our customers. If these features are built into IFS Applications, users will not need to leave their core system, meaning information is controlled and contained in the right place, and the benefits of a company’s collective knowledge can be realized.”
IFS Labs is a functional unit within IFS Research & Development that explores new areas of business application functionality, and serves as a testing ground for new development initiatives and ‘proof of concept’ projects not yet ready for large-scale deployment. Taking inspiration from intuitive web and social media applications and incorporating them into IFS Applications, IFS Labs helps pioneer the company’s continuous focus on improving Enterprise application usability—setting new standards in enterprise software design for its customers.