Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Who needs the web? 

The timing of this article connected to my thinking about future projects on our enterprise systems team and allocating resources from that team to the wide variety of identified projects.  I had lunch yesterday with the Director for Enterprise Systems, Lori Tirpak, and two team members who worked on mobility projects for the last year.

The team has finished a strong set of projects this past year. Projects included improved messaging to students about advising and progress to degree.  Also, the team upgraded the portal architecture to the uPortal platform that is mobile-ready.  Finally, the group completed and launched the first OU App in the Apple store.  We spent time talking about projects for the coming year, and we talked about when we might no longer support the portal and instead totally focus our resources (a team of 8 people) on mobile initiatives.  Obviously, something like a transcript isn't going to translate well to a smartphone.  But many services will transfer to mobile devices.

The phrases that caught my eye in this article:
“For decades, the center of computing has been the desktop, and software was modeled after the experience of using a typewriter,” said Georg Petschnigg, a former Microsoft employee who is one of the creators of Paper, a new sketchbook app for the iPad. “But technology is now more intimate and pervasive than that. We have it with us all the time, and we have to reimagine innovative new interfaces and experiences around that.”

"Who needs the Web?"

It reminds me of the era when we kept our old mainframe databases running, due to the cost of transitioning those databases to new platforms.  Instead, we dropped the mainframe screen interfaces and replaces the user interfaces with new designs and platforms.

So we can keep those huge ERP databases or learning management systems behind the scenes.
Then focus on small service bites that are important in the moment and that can be provided by mobile devices.  That has to be the priority.  Using the points in the article, put your resources into mobile from the start, rather than starting with the web and redesigning for mobile.
Any left over resources - and that isn't much on our team - updates the web experience.  That is quite a shift in thinking.  

This really has us thinking about project priority for the next year.