At Convergence 2012 we've introduced a vision for modern business applications, utilizing the Metro style design standard. We're exploring these design advances as we continue to execute on our vision to help our customers become Dynamic Businesses. In this blog post we want to provide an overview of the design concepts showcased in the concept application.
An Immersive Experience
Within Microsoft we've always focused on helping our business applications customers become more productive. With the Metro style design standard, we will be able to provide an 'immersive' experience for business applications—one in which the navigational elements of the operating system take a back seat to what the application can do, literally 'immersing' users in the application.
Examples of specific design elements we've implemented include:
Live Tiles – providing direct insights and quick access to different tasks, with a focus on displaying actual content vs. superfluous graphics. This particularly suits data centric business applications as the application visually notifies you of important updates to important tasks and metrics.
Deep-Linking – allowing you to ‘pin’ any part of the application to the Dynamics Home page or Windows Start page, essentially 'flattening' the application experience and making any given task directly accessible from the highest navigation level (the Windows Start page). This also allows for a very personal experience, tasks and activities from the business application can be mixed and matched with any other tasks relevant to you including files, email, work and private agendas and the latest news.
Panoramic canvas – enables you to explore content in a non-task directed way. The horizontal panning, ideal for a touch based exploration, is specifically useful for data-dense information hubs where you can achieve related and conscious goals like understanding your business performance metric directly on your start page, or find related quotes on a project overview.
Traditional business applications have focused on what has happened in the past and serve mainly as a system-of-record. Microsoft Dynamics already changes that model in our applications today, for example embedded, declarative workflow brings an understanding of the underlying business process directly into the application itself thereby helping guide our customers through their work. Together with embedded business intelligence that transforms the data captured in the system into insight that empowers better decisions, the system becomes a more active, forward looking partner for the people that drive a business. In our concept application, you can see its pro-active nature in how you are able to automatically allocate the right resources to a project, those resources are not only available, but have the required skills and a proven track record of success with this specific customer.
This is just the beginning… Microsoft Dynamics will continue to evolve with technologies like embed constraint optimization and machine learning to deliver even more advanced proactive and forward-looking capability to power your Dynamic Business.
It is all about context
Contextual information increases the relevance of data provided by the system. Some specific examples:
In context Collaboration – is essential to enabling the connected enterprise. Today our applications already deliver embedded presence and Lync interoperability. In the future, this will extend even further through Skype and the connection of business and social user graphs, empowering workers to connect to whomever they need to for work or personal interaction using the same familiar devices and tools, and to seamlessly manage their own boundary between work and personal life
Embedded social activity streams – the activity stream inside the application experience will provide frequent updates by both users as well as key relevant activities driven by the system itself (eg. customer approvals, status updates, etc.), providing a more holistic view of relevant activity to subscribed users
Device context – will provide each user with a rich experience that is optimized for the device they are on. For example, the smart phone experience would probably be more optimized for things like direct insights into customer / order status while traveling, approvals, and tracking of important KPIs. Whereas, a laptop experience would be optimized for more data entry oriented tasks like General Ledger entries and Sales Orders.
In addition, the application experience on tablets will most likely be optimized for touch. Pervasive usage of GPS and NFC sensors in mobile phones and tablets will provide additional context and make the application experience even more relevant for those who are traveling.
Hope this gets you excited about the possibilities. We certainly are. Look for these elements trickling down into our individual Microsoft Dynamics business applications. And let us hear from you—what do you think of where we are going in Microsoft Dynamics?