TECH TALK: Rethinking Enterprise Software: Digital Dashboard (Part 3)

The two themes central for the New Desktop are Chronology and Events. A blog (a personal journal or diary) lends itself to capturing thinking and displaying based on time. [Examples of blogs: John Robb, Mine] We would be expected to narrate events, tell stories about the work we are doing, write about what we are reading, and discuss things we find interesting. But this is only one of the ways in which the blog gets populated. Events are happening around us: calendar alerts, emails coming in and going out, news feeds bringing up posts of others, news feeds coming in from the outside. These events pass through an RSS aggregator and are made available to us for use in the manner we see fit.

The Weblog’s read-write application becomes the New Desktop, the personal portal. It can use Office for its writing and specialised display (eg. use a spreadsheet to show a tabular document with formulae), and a Browser for general-purpose reading. Search is available across all that one is doing. The Weblog becomes the personal information management system. A collection of the weblogs of employees within the enterprise becomes the enterprise knowledge management system.

Into this architecture can come later enterprise-events from specialised applications like ERP, CRM and SCM. The interface remains the same. This is a big shift from today, wherein the only front-end we have available is the browser. Using Blogs and Syndication, we can create a framework for the New Desktop the corporate portal, or the Digital Dashboard.

One Screen to Rule Them All

I can envision the following scenario in a company to amplify and institutionalise knowledge:
– all individuals have their own blogs and RSS aggregators
– RSS feeds include external news, internal posts, mail, documents, “events”
– each blog published has its own RSS feed to close the loop
– search across the blogs: with the granularity being a blog post
– use outlines to display for the table of contents

The combination of Blogs, Outliners and RSS Aggregators are the building blocks for the Digital Dashboard.

Heres an example from John Robb, wherein he elaborates on building an RSS digital dashboard using a weblog tool:

In addition to getting new posts from news sites and other weblogs, RSS feeds can contain machine generated data from corporate systems. Sales data, financial data, supply data, data from partner systems, data from suppliers, etc. Using this method, employees could get up to the minute data from multiple applications on a single webpage — a personal digital dashboard.

So, for example, I could be a sales manager at a Fortune 500 company. I want to track information available to me from multiple corporate applications, and I don’t want to run the client software for each app on my desktop. I only want the data. So, in order to offer employees better access to data, the IT department is convinced to spend a couple of days to create granular RSS feeds for the main corporate apps (CRM, ERP, financial, etc.). Here is what the feed could look like:

Sale: Customer name: Proctor and Gamble, Date: June 12, 2002, Amount:
$2.3 m, Made by: Tom Durst, E-mail:, K-Log: , Product: Widget XYZ

Using Radio [a blogging tool] I merely subscribe to the feeds I want to monitor form a list on the Intranet (using the news subscription page). Every hour I get all the latest data from each of the apps. Further, I can take any of this data, add an annotation / comment / Point of View, and publish it to my K-Log. I could also create published views of this data using the Multi-author tool for Radio (this tool lets me select the feeds I want to group and publish them to category specific weblog).

Weblogs, Outliners are RSS are the unlikely combination which are re-making the user interface of the enterprise. Think of a browser with three tabs: one for navigating through weblogs, another for reviewing RSS feeds, commenting on them and deciding which blogs they need toflow to, and a third for writing. For enterprises, this triad in the form of the digital dashboard presents better way to manage information flow. Just as Googles search box has provided a window to the Web, similarly the Digital Dashboard can provide a unified window to the information-centric and collaboration-driven enterprise.

Tomorrow: Whole Solution for USD 20 a month

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.