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After working with enterprise widgets for some time I have observed that successful examples have all had at least one of the following attributes.

  • Reducing the distance to consumption of SAP data and transactions.
    Essentially this means making things faster and easier to access. There are many SAP interactions where navigating to the right screen takes longer than the actual transaction. These are good opportunities for widgetization.
  • Transforming SAP data or transactions from generic to highly specific.
    The example I like is a lawyer-timer widget. The CATS (Cross Application Time Sheet) is great if you need to enter your time in a spreadsheet, but lawyers tend to switch back and forth between billing codes (clients) frequently and need to track their time very accurately. A stopwatch style interaction for each client that adds together the totals before sending the data to the CATS system optimizes the generic CATS functionality for a highly specific use.
  • Data or transaction is monitored or used very frequently, but is not a primary context for the user.
    This covers a large number of use cases. The easy one to point out is Instant Messaging applications or more broadly, presence clients. IM clients are typically implemented as an application, but are rarely used as a primary context, like you would use Office. Regardless of technology, IM clients are prototypical of widget-style user interaction. My favorite widget tool is actually a portal page launcher. Our corporate portal publishes an XML file of all the shortcuts to key pages. The portal page launcher caches the shortcuts and allows me to simply type what shortcut I want into it. Using auto-complete, I can quickly see my choice and launch the portal directly to the correct page.
  • Widget functionality is needed to augment a non-enterprise context.
    Enterprise data and transactions are needed everywhere and we’re not lucky enough to have Duet enables scenarios for everything we do (yet). Until then, we’ll have to make due with little widget helper apps like currency converters and look-up tools.

-Eric

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  1. Anton Wenzelhuemer
    Great use case sum-up Eric!

    I just want to question parts of the last statement. ‘Until then’ kind of suggest that you think that some day a regular enterprise app needs to come for example with it’s own currency conversion service with the UI being embedded in the app’s UI.
    I don’t think this is necessary or useful. In a service oriented world such services can be aggregated from a variety of providers. Why implement a currency converter (and ‘waste’ computing ressources) if there are a trillion such services already out there?

    I’d even go so far to question the need for an enterprise application to implement it’s own calendar suite. Me as an indivual I have exactly one live to manage. This consists of a private life, a social life and one or more business lifes. All this lifes have to be adjusted to one given amount of time, which, from my point of view, is one calendar.
    In the future I see this universal anton-wenzelhuemer-calendar at some trusted provider of such a service aggregating all my commitments into one highly personalized view. Viewed with the UI of MY choice.
    My business appointments will only be one view onto this calendar, for which my employer will get an authorization to view and update.

    In short, I don’t believe that the future will be an enterprise system offering all different services needed in a proprietary UI but a distributed system of trusted services aggregated into a UI of the end user’s choice. For example the user’s favourite widget engine.

    This would result in a great improvement of user productivity and user satisfaction.

    my 2 cents,
    anton

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    1. Anonymous
      Great reminder Anton- Enterprise software makers and IT departments need to spend more thought cycles on providing end users with greater personal productivity, not just efficient enterprise systems. 

      For the record- my comment was about Duet, which does integrate with things like your calendar so that you don’t have separate personal and enterprise calendars… assuming you use Outlook as your personal calendar 😉
      -Eric

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  2. Frank Brackmann
    Hello Eric,

    very nice blog and ideas!
    I was also thinking about a simple Stopwatch Enterprise Widget.I started with a widget based on a mixture of this StopWatch widget from yahooo gallery(http://widgets.yahoo.com/gallery/?search=stopwhatcher) and Rajas “Sap logged on Users Widget”(for the WAS-Settings) for tracking Project times. When the user pressed the Reset button on the Stopwatch a WebDynpro application should open and the User can select a project for the tracked time. The tracked time from the Stopwatch widget is transferded to the WebDynpro application via URL-Parameter. Hopefully i am able to finish this little helper….

    Regards
    Frank

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  3. Anonymous
    Hello Widgets Gurus,

    I am trying to display time recording data in some graphical format…but can you guys sugest some server whee i can get Dummy Time recording data..unlike ISP which is production system.

    Prompt response will be highly appreciated..

    Regards,
    Gaurav

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