One of the biggest problems with applications is that each of them is so isolated. Of course, we're so used to dealing with this issue that most of us don't think about it. But because every application essentially has a wall around it, our collective productivity is greatly diminished.
One company that is putting a lot of thought into this issue is OpenSpan, which focuses on what company CEO Eric Musser refers to as user process management software. OpenSpan this week released version 4.5 of its namesake software, which makes it easier for Microsoft Visual Studio developers to invoke OpenSpan while also providing tighter integration with applications from SAP and Salesforce.com.
OpenSpan works by deploying agents that watch and learn how users are invoking every application on their desktop. It then makes that information available to IT organizations that can use OpenSpan tools to automate processes that span multiple applications in order to increase productivity.
As Musser notes, a phenomenal amount of employee time is wasted just copying data from one application into another over and over again. OpenSpan gives IT organizations a tool for not only discovering what routine tasks need to be automated to increase productivity, but also finding out what applications are consistently used via heat maps and other tools provided by OpenSpan.
That information can then be shared with any number of business process management (BPM) engines in order to increase productivity across the entire enterprise, said Musser. The challenge, says Musser, is that business processes constantly change and evolve, so unless IT organizations have a way of monitoring how those changes affect the way desktop applications are used, they can never keep up with the changing needs of the business. In fact, Musser goes so far as to say that OpenSpan might ultimately redefine the way we think about time and motion studies.
While there is a lot of focus on BPM and other types of process automation software, when it comes down to increasing employee productivity, the battle is going to be won or lost at the desktop. The question is whether IT is going to play an active or passive role in making that happen.