We recently hosted a Special Interest Group meeting in Munich where, with a group of customers, we discussed how users can really get the most out of E-WorkBook. We focussed primarily on the web client, and explained how users can take their data management to the next level whilst minimising the impact on users.
Throughout the IT industry, organizations and users are rising to the challenge of moving their users from native desktop client interfaces to dynamic web interfaces. These web interfaces are becoming increasingly attractive for organizations – they provide a simple way of making applications available on a wide variety of operating systems. Additionally, using a web browser to deploy an application is likely to provide a reduction in the rollout cost since installation packs no longer have to be created. It’s not hard to see how the move to the web is often seen as a “win-win” for both organizations and end users.
IDBS has developed the E-WorkBook web client to make it easy to adopt and minimize the change impact on both organizations and users. Organizations needs to make sure that the correct infrastructure is in place to run a web application, and users need to understand and use a new environment. To minimize the impact of change, the E-WorkBook web client interacts with the same underlying database as the desktop client and provides a common set of capabilities. So both clients, which are provided as part of a standard installation, can contribute to and search the same datasets without having to perform a huge data migration. With this in mind, some of the key learnings and discussion topics of the meeting were:
Decide when and how to migrate based on your business drivers
This common platform allows users (and organizations) to choose when and how they move from desktop to web without having to follow an ‘all or nothing’ approach. It is clear from the various customer viewpoints put forth that the ‘tipping point’, when the benefits of adopting web outweigh the effort to get there, is different for each customer. To aid this decision, organizations are looking for insight into their data and systems to understand how they are being used and what is going to provide the biggest benefit to their users as they move to the web. It is important that organizations regularly review how their systems are being used and make changes so that they continue to support business objectives and maintain competitive advantage.
Ensure the correct infrastructure is in place
One of the benefits of a web-based application is the scalability that it provides. Current E-WorkBook customers who have experienced performance issues with underpowered client PCs or network latency to remote sites may resolve this by migrating to the web client which shifts the resource load to a server architecture. This does however mean putting the appropriate architecture in place to ensure the right amount of power without wasted capacity. IDBS have been working with customers to make recommendations for their web server infrastructure based on expected usage. With the advent of SaaS E-WorkBook, some customers have decided to ditch the data center altogether and migrate to the cloud. With IDBS managing the backend, SaaS customers can rest assured they have an optimized and scalable server infrastructure for their usage needs.
Develop a change management plan
Whilst the general functionality of the E-WorkBook web client is consistent with the desktop client, the user experience has been redesigned with simplicity and ease of use in mind. Customers have reported a decrease in the duration of training for new web users versus previous desktop user training. This doesn’t mean that existing desktop users will adopt the web without training however. A good web conversion training should include familiarization with the new interface, highlight differences from the existing desktop functionality, and focus on the company’s specific usage of the system.
In addition to these topics, IDBS discussed the current state and future product plans to support customers looking to migrate to the web. By converting legacy desktop functionality and ensuring access to legacy desktop data, the effort required to migrate from desktop to web is continually decreasing.
Even though we’ve been working hard to ensure our new cutting-edge product meets user expectations, we also want to ensure our existing customers aren’t left behind. For us, the easy option would have been to develop a new web-based system, while advising our existing customers to simply change to the new system. Instead, by upgrading and retrofitting our customers’ existing systems, we have demonstrated our strong commitment to our existing customer base.
We have an exciting roadmap for extending the functionality of the system to support the data needs of R&D scientists, all of which is heavily focused on web-based deployments. This allows organizations and users to ‘get ahead’ with their data use and management by using E-WorkBook.