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I hope you read all about how to get up and running with OrgHub for Mobile and about getting around in OrgChart Hands on with Nakisa OrgHub for Mobile – Part 1Now it’s time to start on the rest of the functionality starting with….

Searching Using the Directory

The second part of the OrgHub for Mobile application is the Directory.  This is accessed by tapping the Directory button at the bottom of the screen.  The directory allows you to carry out a basic search against one of a set of parameters (unlike the OrgChart application whose listings also offer the option of advanced searches where multiple parameters can be specified).

In the Demo system there are three listing options available – employee, position and org unit.  The type of listing to be used can be selected by tapping on the listing button in the top left of the screen and selecting one of the options from the drop down.

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For each listing, there are two further buttons to tap that will reveal menus of options.  The first allows you to select the property you wish to search on (e.g. the name of an employee or the cost centre of an org unit), the range of fields available varies between listings.  The second button allows you to select the type of match to be carried out.  This list will be aligned to the type of field and allows you to search based on matches such as ‘equals’, ‘begins with’, ‘ends with’ and ‘contains’.

After specifying the property and type of match simply enter some details into the “search” field (next to these two buttons) and tap return to carry out the search.

04-employee listing.png

When the search completes a tabulated listing is displayed.  Each row represents an object matching the search and each column in the row displaying a property of the object.

By tapping on the column header you can (for any column set in the OrgChart configuration to be sortable) sort the results.  Tapping on a column header twice will reverse the ordering.

The listing will display thirteen rows on screen but loads in a “page” worth of results – a setting that’s specified in the OrgChart configuration and in the Demo system is set as 15 rows.  Scrolling up and down as well as side to side is available (by swiping up/down/left/right) and when you reach the bottom of the listing (i.e. the 15th row) you can then pull the scroll down (i.e. swipe up) and release to add the next “page” of results.  The previous pages stay available – you don’t need to reload them.  It is also worth noting that scrolling down to the bottom in this way tells you how many results your search returned in total.  Even with hundreds of results loaded, performance still seemed to be really snappy.

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Tapping on a row will open a familiar looking details panel for the specific type of object.  Just make sure you don’t tap on any e-mail addresses otherwise it will also jump you out into the Mail app.

04-employee listing-details.png

Again tapping on the button with an org chart icon on it (top right) will open a hierarchy to display the object.  This will effectively take you out of Directory and back into OrgChart.  At the same time it will hide the details panel, but you can always get it back by tapping on the corresponding object in the chart or swiping the details panel back into view using the gestures described earlier.

Just one more thing

In true Columbo style there’s just one more thing I’d like to raise regarding OrgHub for Mobile before you start deploying it to all and sundry; and that’s around data security.  Some HR data available via OrgChart is rather sensitive so you really need to be sure you’ve got tight controls in place when you let this data out onto mobile devices.

1. VPN

Whilst it is probably a given that you will use a VPN for any access external to your corporate network there are a couple of specifics that you’ll need to ensure are in place.

Architecture - OrgHub Mobile.png

The first is that the VPN you have is iOS compatible.  Different protocols and authentication factors are used for different VPNs and not all will work seamlessly with an iPad – particularly if the VPN is a little long in the tooth.  So you’ll want to double check that any current VPN solution you have in place will cater to your needs.

Secondly if you’re going to use the application on any internal corporate WiFi networks (rather than an external network), you’ll need to ensure that the traffic is routed accordingly.  Without this routing you can end up with a system that you can only access (from your iPad) whilst you’re not directly on the corporate network.

2. Profiles

Sometimes people lose their mobile devices (forgetfulness, theft, etc.) and since there is a potential for someone with access to the device to get to your HR data there needs to be some safeguarding in place.

Unfortunately the OrgHub for Mobile application doesn’t apply any restrictions itself beyond putting in your credentials at set-up.  Whilst there is an option to enable or disable auto-logon, most users will simply set it to auto-logon not giving any consideration to the security of the data.

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This means that you need to consider doing something extra to secure the device itself.

The simplest solution with iPads is to add a pass code to the lock screen.  This will force the user to enter a code in order to unlock the device.  Of course if you don’t somehow constrain the settings, users will have the option to disable this ‘pesky time-wasting annoyance’ and what about the deluge of ‘bring your own’ devices (BYoD)?  After all you don’t configure people’s personal devices for them (well I guess based on experience it might depend upon how nicely they ask).

The solution fortunately is to use something relatively straight forward.  Apple allows you to push configuration profiles out to devices via Mobile Device Management (MDM) systems and Apple Push Notifications.  This allows you to apply a constraint to any iOS device that wants to connect to your network.

iPad to MDM server.png

This will also enable you to remote wipe the device should it be lost further securing against the potential for someone to gain access to your data.

Securing iPads in this way should be part of the organisation’s mobile device policy (including BYoD).  If however, all else fails, changing the password on the account used by the user to access OrgChart will effectively disable access via OrgHub for Mobile on that user’s lost iPad.

Conclusion

So that’s my whirlwind tour of the new OrgHub for Mobile application from Nakisa.  It offers a broadly similar set of functionality to OrgChart on which it is effectively built, and it does so through an easy to use and beautifully designed mobile interface.  Overall I don’t think the inability to perform more advanced searches in Directory or to export charts, listings and ChartBooks (as OrgChart allows) detract from the application.  To be honest simplicity for mobile just seems more elegant.

In fact ‘elegant’ is probably the word that best sums up my feelings about this application.  It’s definitely received the caring touch in polishing some rough edges I noticed in the initial App Store release.  I’ve even tried running the application on a 1st and a 4th generation iPad and the difference in performance and responsiveness is minimal.  This could be in part to processing done on the server side, but in any case the delivery to the end user is what counts and it is slick!

I’m sure there will be further iterations of the iPad app and I hope to see some triggering of creating e-mails and maybe the option to export a current chart to the standard Photos application in a future release.  Nakisa have suggested in webinars and the like, that other platforms are in the pipeline and since there’s an HTML5 foundation to this application I would imagine that similarly elegant applications for other tablets won’t be too far down the line.

As for smaller devices (e.g. smart phones) I would hope that there is some sort of development plan for them too.  I would imagine that the Directory could be useful for many when trying to work out who to call or e-mail based only on knowledge of what area they need to contact.  Viewing a hierarchy is obviously somewhat trickier, but there’s a basic solution in SuccessFactors’ BizX Mobile application and having seen the iPad app from Nakisa I’m sure they could come up with something more functional.

Some of the screen shots from presentations also show what were presumably semi-functional mock-ups with buttons for social & communications networks such as LinkedIn and Skype.  It would be great to see integration where you could link out to other apps or information sources; in fact this seems like it would probably just be part of the mobile implementation for OrgChart’s SocialLink module (SocialLink integration in OrgHub for Mobile is thought to be coming).

From an implementation perspective I think it would be useful to have some control over the help screens and maybe the ability to add some corporate branding to the application (e.g. initial loading screen, help screens).  Perhaps even some diagnostics or logging to help debug connection issues.  In time I hope that we’ll see some really great case studies around implementations that cover not only the Nakisa side of the equation, but also the infrastructure side (particularly with regards to security).

If you do have access to an iPad I’d really recommend you try this application out for yourself.  I think you’ll be more than a little impressed with what it offers!

If you do try it out or have any thoughts about what you’ve read here please feel free to leave a comment.

Further Reading

Whilst it is a new piece of software, there are a number of additional resources I’d recommend taking a look at to learn a bit more about this application.

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3 Comments

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  1. Luke Marson

    Hi Stephen,

    A great 2nd part to your first blog with some technical details and analysis. It’s a good extension to the first details that were announced in my blog Nakisa OrgHub™ for Mobile app last year.

    I know Nakisa are planning to develop for smartphones and other tables, including Blackberry and Android devices (among others). I think there is scope to visualize the orgstructure on a smartphone, but with limited space the layout of the details panel and Directory results will need re-thinking. I agree that the look & feel is along the lines of “elegant” and it is encouraging that they have followed “standard” smartphone design principles for an attractive UX.

    The point of security is important and any organization that is serious about BYOD should ensure that smartphone and tablet devices are secured, at least by screen-lock. For Microsoft Exchange email services this is forced upon users, although I wouldn’t imagine that Nakisa would – or should – follow this path. But organizations that roll out any mobile application should consider how they can protect data that is accessed from these devices.

    Customers can get more details about Nakisa 4.0 in my blog What’s new in Visualization Solutions by Nakisa 4.0.

    Best regards,

    Luke

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    1. Stephen Millard Post author

      Hi Luke.

      It was originally going to be a single blog post rather than a two parter, but it seems that there’s a limit of 30 images per post on SCN as the upload image button got greyed out from that point.

      I do hope that Nakisa do extend the application to other form factors and devices (see my response to your comment in the first post), and I’m intrigued to see what they might do for the smaller screen (though smartphones seem to be creeping towards small tablet sizes these days).  I’d like to think they could make it as slick as the iPad interface, but as you say there’s a lot of information to cram onto such a small screen estate.

      Whilst I’m sure not every UI issue has been resolved just yet I think maybe there are opportunities to see what other apps have done to address similar issues and then do what every great designer does and at a general concept level “steal like an artist“.

      Security is very much a key consideration when it comes to mobile devices and the constraints applied to devices tend very much to be driven by the security conscious IT department rather than by software (such is the consumerisation of IT” that brings us intuitive (i.e. generally unrestricted) personal computing in the palm of our hand).  The aim of including the section in this blog post was to purposefully highlight this to anyone who might look to be involved in the deployment of the application.  It is so (relatively) easy to download a free app, pay a little licence fee open up a firewall and flick a configuration switch; I wanted to kind of get the idea into people’s heads that going mobile has some other considerations that need to be worked through – most importantly (in my opinion) security.

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  2. Stephen Burr

    Good job Stephen.  It is good to hear about the latest version from you, as you’ve obviously given it a thorough going over!

    Impressive Further Reading list!

    Thanks for taking the time to share … someone should vote you SCN Member of Month or something 🙂

    Regards,

    Stephen

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