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.