Applications Everywhere: Introduction

We are wearing multiple hats at Farata Systems all the time. For our corporate clients, we are the Rich Internet Applications shop that does project management and software development within constrains of the client vision and the product timeline.

But we also work on the projects for startups in which we are major stakeholders. There we apply our sense of what world becomes and what RIA are meant to be.

I will be talking about one of those experiences during Flex360 in Denver this April. In particular, I will be talking about application for the financial/insurance industry we have been working on for the last 18 months.

It started as a typical AIR desktop application with PDF integration and some Java back-end workflow. As application grew, the clients (200K-1M of prospective paid clients) demanded availability of the functionality on the desktop, web and mobile devices. In this series of the articles I will talk about solutions we had to build in order to provide them with consistent easy to use platform that essentially brings us to the next frontier of the application development.

Enter “virtual solution provider”. A typical insurance agent is 50+ years old (technology challenged) high school graduate with GPA of 3.0 (as your financial adviser) and a single handed to manage both client expectations (CRM) and insurance companies/state bureaucracy (workflow and compliance). We consider it a huge opportunity for an integrated solution (most of the insurance agencies still howl trunks full of paper insurance forms with them) that has to be simple enough so any agent can do it. The insurance agents are not the same users as the corporate ones – they work for a distributed MLM with extremely high turnover rate.

The client base is almost consumer grade. They can have a laptop now with the Internet connection that works 70% of the time. Tomorrow they would rather have a tablet and touch-screen devices – they need simple devices. The phone integration is essential as they spend 50%+ developing leads. Phishing and real-time advertisement by current media/internet companies are the ways they get most of the new clients.

That’s why we build this insurance application as an example of what the platform for the future consumer applications should be. The Internet moved publishing/media closer to consumers and made it more personal. The most successful companies (Google, Facebook, etc) turned hundreds of millions users into their implicit workforce. The next generation of applications needs to do the same. Rather then come with a fixed workflow it has to capitalize on the everyday experiences of the human race and become an expert system in any application domain. That experience should guide your workflow in transparent way, when and where you need it.

The articles in this series will talk about changes we need to make to the features we are embedding in the applications so they become a ubiquitous part of our life.

Anatole Tartakovsky