Posted in Confluence, Confluence Forms, Forms

Forms and Situational Applications

A few weeks back, I was talking to an executive from a leading Enterprise Social Software company about partnering with frevvo. His observation was that these tools and their collaboration capabilities lived in the space between completely unstructured workflows at companies (typically via email) to rigid workflows created by IT using workflow products.

This got me thinking – what keeps the CIO awake at night? It’s not the database or servers – they cost a lot but they’re known entities. It’s not the client – pick a browser and an OS. It’s what’s in the middle – from short-lived apps put together by power users (register for the corporate outing, get results by email or in Excel) to significant projects developed by IT (order management app that works with the SOA or back end server). In either case, this is the unpredictable part in terms of $$ as well as time. A lot of expensive, time-consuming and unproductive work lives here. There’s often a huge backlog of these types of short-lived needs that IT simply cannot fulfill – and in many cases, the need is gone before IT gets around to implementing it.

That’s where Enterprise Wikis like Confluence add so much value. They allow IT to retain control of the server infrastructure while still allowing business people (those same power users that have written millions of Excel macros) to put together simple, short-lived applications and deploy them quickly. People call them Enterprise Mashups or, more to my liking, Situational Applications.

“Situational applications are a way for people with domain expertise to create applications in a very short time. Many IT shops have a backlog of small little projects that their customers want. If it takes 3 weeks to get to a project, the need is gone before the developer even starts coding. We want to give knowledge workers the tools to solve their own problems.”

So, how can IT be the gatekeeper but not the gardener? Wikis like Confluence provide widgets that business users can assemble into applications while still allowing IT to control the widgets and the services that the widgets consume. Of course, web forms are a key aspect of Situational Applications. The vast majority of business applications rely on forms. So, your Intranet must have a simple web-based form builder or it won’t be able to handle even simple business applications.

If you’re thinking about this, check out frevvo’s Live Forms for Confluence product and see how easy it is to add real forms to your Intranet and get a handle on those costs in the middle.

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