Wednesday, August 31, 2016

30 Years of Citizen Developers

More than three decades ago, the Rapid Application Development platform known as Magic burst upon the scene and became immediately popular as the PC revolution was in full force.

Glenn Johnson*

Thousands of citizen developers known as “magicians” working on DOS machines created applications quickly and easily accessing ISAM databases and displaying results on green screen monitors. By the mid-1990s, Magic had gone cross-platform and enterprise and global. Its citizen developers had grown-up and were winning all the international development competitions. Suddenly, big businesses started using Magic too and the RAD tool phenomenon of the PC became a mainstay for creating serious business applications that served millions of users and handled billions of dollars in transactions on enterprise servers.

Magic extended its citizen developer approach to application integration as well. Starting in 2003, business analysts could now use “Magic” to connect third-party applications behind the scenes. This RAD approach to application integration began saving companies millions of dollars as they streamlined business processes, unified information and reduced processing errors without hiring a team of point-to-point integration programmers to make it happen.

It is with more than a little amusement then that the Magic community observes the introduction of new “low code” platforms and "click not code" solutions designed to solve a problem that has been largely solved for decades by what has always been known as a “no code” platform. Gartner has invented a new term, “citizen developer” to describe app developers who are basically users that create apps using enterprise approved app platforms.

"Why low code when you can no code?"

For enterprise IT departments considering introduction of low code platforms, a good hard look at a no code platform might provide some reassurance in the form of a proven alternative. The Magic xpa Application Platform and the Magic xpi Integration Platform of today are marvels in terms of their ability to simplify the complexity of underlying environments. Using no code visual interfaces and table driven app creation techniques, a citizen developer can make software and integrate software thanks to several common virtues:

Metadata Driven Development. Why write code to manipulate data when you can instead implement visual business logic directly that creates metadata instructions that can be run as an application? It’s called Magic for a reason: because something special happens behind the curtain; you never see the hard work. You just ask for what you want: “Abracadabra.”

Reusability and the Right Degree of Granularity. Call them objects, components, models, templates, subroutines or services, software that can called and reused by other software is virtuous by reason of its efficiency. Magic’s platforms provide deliver reusability as a core characteristic of their internal architectures and design studio experiences. Apps and integration flows are easily built by leveraging granular objects, components, models and so on. The beauty of the platform is that the granularity of the objects is not so fine as to require constant assembly or so course as to be constrained in their flexibility. With just the right sized building blocks, you can create anything without the effort of coding from scratch.

Event-Driven Architecture. A revolution has occurred in the IT world from an old batch-oriented approach to processing to new event-driven architectures with real-time or near real-time asynchronous processing and simultaneous support for long running processes. In a service-oriented world, the Magic platforms deliver responsive, event-driven environments that allow business applications to respond immediately to requests and changes.

In-Memory Computing. Both Magic xpa and Magic xpi leverage in memory computing techniques through the use of an In-Memory Data Grid. Leveraging virtual spaces of shared memory and processing an active-active clustering occurs whereby performance and operational integrity are fully optimized. Parallelism and redundancy results in elastic scalability and high availability.

These metadata-driven, reusable, event-driven, in-memory application and integration platforms are producing mission critical apps and supporting business critical integration processes. A virtuous platform in the hands of citizen developers can be a beautiful thing. With more than 30 years of expanding use, constant improvement and real-world bullet-proofing, Magic now provides the most advanced application and integration platforms for citizen developers. Why low code when you can no code?

*Glenn Johnson is the senior VP of Magic Software Enterprises Americas.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Digital Transformation, Digital Transformation, Digital Transformation!

There’s no getting away from it, the phrase digital transformation has been bandied about at an ever increasing rate over the last year or so. But do we really know what it means?

Sarah Leicester*

At a conference I attended quite recently we were split into groups and all had to give our own definitions on the phrase. No one really struggled to give their own interpretation, and the definitions varied a lot. Some suggesting it’s about using digital technology to work more collaboratively, some said it’s about the integration of tools for a streamlined business process and one even suggested that the concept of being ‘offline’ is going to become obsolete. 

I think it’s evident we’re all comfortable giving some sort of explanation of digital transformation and we’re all aware (in varying degrees) that it’s a fundamental part of the future of business processes. After all, the industry is harping on about digital transformation and we wouldn’t want to look silly in front of our peers...right? But how much do we comprehend its importance in our businesses? Maybe not enough.

So what are we actually talking about when we utter those immortal words? Altimeter defines digital transformation as “the realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle”. Now that we have a common definition, your organisation needs to consider what it needs in order to be “digitally transformed”, thus remaining competitive and ultimately providing the best service to your customers.

"In order to accomplish your digital transformation, you need a free flow of information across all aspects of your business processes."

To do this you need to ensure all your system applications (e.g. CRM, ERP etc) are integrated. Integration platforms enable you to connect different systems quickly and efficiently to provide a 360-degree view of your customer, helping you to best communicate with and serve your customers at every stage of the customer relationship lifecycle. 

Leading analyst firm Ovum, states, “the need for agility and better collaboration and data flow governance will drive B2B integration infrastructure modernization.” Fortunately for you, it’s in the hands of the integration vendors to keep their platforms relevant to ensure you are able to keep your business processes streamlined and efficient. 

We at Magic Software are constantly updating and enhancing our integration platform to best serve the evolving needs of our customers. In fact, the latest release of our Magic xpi Integration Platform has been designed to facilitate digital transformation and IoT projects. Read more about it here and take a look at it in action here

So whether you are undertaking a small digital transformation effort or a broader one, I invite you to contact Magic as we have the products, expertise, and experience to help you succeed.

Sarah Leicester, Marketing Manager, Magic UK.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Toyota Israel Improves Customer Experience at Service Centers across the Country with Mobile App Powered by Magic Software

Magic partner, Eyal Software used Magic xpa Application Platform to quickly develop iPad app for fast customer intake

Magic Software Enterprises Ltd. (NASDAQ and TASE: MGIC), a global provider of mobile and cloud-enabled application and business integration platforms, announced today that Union Motors, the official importer of Toyota vehicles in Israel (Toyota Israel), has deployed an iPad app powered by Magic xpa Application Platform to speed customer intake at service centers around the country.

Developed by long-time Magic partner, Eyal Software, the app streamlines the process of receiving customer vehicles coming to Toyota garages for service. The new application is deployed on more than 100 iPad devices in over 30 service centers across the country. It allows teams to quickly collect and access all data on the vehicles arriving for service. Customers obtain and sign for service estimates on the spot without even having to enter the building. The new process is significantly shorter than in the past, allowing the garage team to work more efficiently and significantly improves the customer experience.

"We are pleased to continue our successful cooperation with Eyal Software solutions and Magic Software."

"Our goal was to improve the customer experience when arriving at our service centers, and making the entire service experience more efficient. Magic’s solution allowed us to develop and deploy the application quick and cost effectively," said Yossi Antman, Network Service Manager at Toyota Israel.

"Organizations can dramatically improve the quality of customer service through digital transformation. Toyota Israel’s project is a great example that demonstrates how businesses use the mobile capability to reinvent business processes and improve the customer experience,” said Arik Mifano, Managing Director of Magic Israel. 

“Magic’s code-free integration and application platforms, running on the same technology stack, along with decades of enterprise application experience provide organizations with a simple, cost-effective solution for their digital transformation needs.” 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Seven Tips For Avoiding Data Migration Disasters

By Stephan Romeder*

Whether you’re changing ERP, CRM, or other central applications, transferring data between systems is never a simple task. The complexity of data-migration jobs often results in cost overruns and delays. Mistakes made during migrations can lead to costly downtime, diminished end-user productivity, and the loss of important data.   

But if you do the necessary preparation work and fully think through the process, you can avoid some of the most common data migration disasters.

Here are seven tips to keep your data migration project on track:

Clean up your data:
Don't migrate your bad habits. Things may have started out perfect, but it’s more than likely that data inconsistencies and data duplication were introduced over time with multiple users. So it’s important to sanitise the data before the moving the data over. Make sure you de-duplicate data and fix any data integrity problems before the problems are replicated in your new system.

Validate and redefine business rules:
Your company's business and validation rules may have changed since the legacy system was first built. Now is the time to make sure that the businesses rules are current and any questions or disputed processes are ironed out. Also it is advisable to see if there are any data fields that need to be changed or added, and that the necessary validations are included in the new database.

Check cross-object dependencies:
Cross-object dependencies often are not discovered until very late in the migration process. A complex project can have dozens of different data fields coming in from different applications. Discovering new sources of data or connectivity late in the process can throw off your migration timeline. It’s better to identify external sources of data upfront and make sure that the necessary connections are in place for the new system.

Leverage automation:
Many projects suffer from costs overruns due to human error and system downtime. While traditional ETL tools may seem appealing at the outset, they won’t allow you to maximise uptime and maintain interconnected business processes, such as the automatic update of customer address data in your ERP based on changes recorded in your CRM. Instead, look for an integration platform that supports process-based integration.

In addition, an integration platform that has prebuilt connectors to the systems you are migrating can save a lot of time and help you avoid errors. It can also let you keep both new and old systems live and updated, without risk of downtime or transaction loss, until you are ready to do the full switch. System integration platforms can provide an effective solution that will not only accelerate your data migration project, but can be useful for other system integration projects in the future, providing a high return on investment.

Rely on relevant expertise:
Often there is a gross underestimation of just how complex and challenging data migrations can become. It is often perceived as a grunt exercise, tagged on to the end of the much higher visibility target implementation. However, each data migration project requires specialists that can find the root cause of data discrepancies and then fix them, so it’s essential that team members have the necessary professional qualifications and familiarity with the business data.

Don’t wait for the target to be ready:
Get started early. There is so much work to do on the data quality and business rules, so there is no reason to wait for the target to be ready or even chosen. You may have a lot of data to clean up front; it may be too late to hit the deadline if you wait too long.

Validate and test the data migration process: 
Don't save this step for the end. You really need to make sure that you're validating and testing throughout the process. Having business users validate that the data is complete and accurate is important. The people who sign off on the data should be the ultimate consumers of the data.  

Considering these factors before you start your data migration project will help increase the chances for your success. Regardless of the complexity of your migration, make sure you have a robust plan that outlines the dependencies between various tasks and milestones before you begin any work. Having a plan to work and working to plan can minimize the risk of a data migration disaster.

* Stephan Romeder, is the General Manager of Magic Software Enterprises Europe, a leading provider of multi-channel application development, application integration and enterprise mobility solutions. He is also the Managing Director of Magic Software Deutschland, covering Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Stephan began his career at Magic in 1996 increasing sales and earning many sales and business awards as he worked his way up the corporate ladder by combining a strong focus on innovation with a commitment to developing long-term relationships with customers, partners and employees.

Originally posted at: EnterpriseAppsTech 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Magic Software’s Enhanced Integration Platform Facilitates Digital Transformation and IoT Projects

Magic Software is updating its Magic xpi integration platform to support IoT (Internet of Things) projects.   Magic xpi 4.5 supports expanded connectivity capabilities, more user-friendly development tools, on-board support for MQTT and robust in-memory computing.

Magic Software is updating its Magic xpi integration platform to support IoT (Internet of Things) projects.

With the advent of ‘digital business’ projects jamming inboxes all over IT, organizations need easier and more cost-effective solutions to execute, maintain and modify them, according to Ami Ries, vice president, research and development at Magic Software.

Turning specifically to IoT, such projects present IT specific requirements Magic looks to meet with its Magic xpi 4.5 update, including expanded connectivity capabilities, more user-friendly development tools and robust in-memory computing, Ries said. 

Further, Magic xpi 4.5 provides a code-free, visual approach to accelerate and facilitate integration using a fresh Microsoft Visual Studio-based UI.  It also adds out-of-the-box connectivity for MQTT, a popular IoT protocol and a “Connector Builder” SDK to allow developers to quickly build custom, reusable connectors. 


The Magic xpi platform provides the following key capabilities: 

  • A code-free, drag and drop visual data mapper, rather than the need to perform complex point-to-point hand coding.
  • Enhanced productivity features including: drag & drop flow configuration, Mini Map, Zoom Bar, and the ability to work with multiple open flows and data mappers.
  • A process automation scheduler to support real-time event triggers and automated handling of exceptions and errors.
  • Out-of-the-box connectivity support for MQTT, JSON and WCF.
  • A library of 100+ adapters including pre-built and customizable connectors all certified for leading back-end systems for CRM, ERP and other popular on-prem and cloud apps (including SAP, Salesforce, JD Edwards, Microsoft Dynamics and others). 
  • Enterprise-grade, In-Memory Data Grid (IMDG) architecture with built-in clustering, failover and automatic recovery.
  • End-to-end security and encryption inside and outside the firewall.
  • Comprehensive management and monitoring for IT and business users.

The Magic 4.5 xpi integration platform also works with Magic’s End-to-End Enterprise Mobility Solution to help developers with rapid creation and deployment of secure, enterprise-grade mobile business apps.  Magic’s enterprise solutions offer capabilities for app development and MDM (mobile device management).

The vision for Magic 4.5 xpi wasn’t purely about IT needs. There is also a business user dimension.  “When the Internet of Things needs to interface with the world of business for monetization, tracking and control, that's where we see the Magic xpi Integration Platform making a difference. IoT is great, but at some point somebody has to pay for all of this, an invoice needs to be sent, it's just that simple," Magic Software Americas senior vice president Glenn Johnson said in a statement.

Originally posted at: Integration Developer News

Monday, July 25, 2016

Internet of Customers: Customer Experience Automation Meets IoT?

The Internet of Things creates many new types of customer touchpoints and communication channels, which can fundamentally change how you manage the customer relationship.

By Glenn Johnson*

Traditional customer relationship management (CRM) systems focus our attention on building a comprehensive view of customer information. One-to-one marketing pioneers like Don Peppers and Martha Rogers wrote, in their book Managing Customer Relationships: A Strategic Framework, that "the objective is to integrate channels of communication so that a 360-degree view of the customer can be created."

The theory behind these systems is that employees in sales, marketing and service roles can delight customers by referencing past interactions they or their colleagues have had with them. As customers increasingly interact with brands online, much of this digital memory and response has become automated, not through human touchpoints, but rather via automated web experiences.

The Internet of Things brings an entirely new meaning to a 360-degree view of the customer. In fact, it is more literally true now than ever. Through networks of cameras, sensors, controllers and mobile devices, touchpoints are no longer limited to humans and computer screens. Temperature, motion and vibration sensors, as well as machine vision, digital audio, speech-to-text and a thousand other technologies, are converging to provide a customer's digital footprint that is more real-world and less digital-reality every day.

Building a full picture of this new type of customer journey is extremely challenging, due to the integration required to tie in all of these new technologies with existing software. But by recording, managing and integrating customer information, whether it comes from product sensors or CRM systems, companies can now better track the customer journey during all stages of the product life cycle.

This approach creates the Internet of Customers.

Big players have already made inroads into incorporating IoT data into their information systems. Pitney Bowes can now connect operational information from its machines at customer locations to proactively identify, diagnose and resolve asset service issues before clients are even aware of a problem. And Coca-Cola uses data from connected vending machines to gain valuable understanding about where and when to advertise.

There are possibilities for retail applications as well. As shoppers move through a store, in-store beacons can be employed to check their location, purchase history and loyalty status, triggering discount offers for relevant merchandise on the spot.

In the construction industry, modular homes manufacturers can use IoT data from each component to streamline production and assembly, as well as provide real-time reports to homeowners regarding product delivery times.

Internet of Customer Challenges

The Internet of Customers is a game-changer in the sense of enabling new business value, but it does create a systems integration and business process orchestration challenge. IoT systems can be viewed as an overlay on existing IT systems that needs to integrate CRM, other legacy systems and new connected devices. With multiple platforms, numerous protocols and large numbers of application programming interfaces (APIs), IoT systems integration can be a challenge. In addition, as the IoT of Customers connects more devices together, it provides more decentralized entry points for malware, creating more complexity and new security risks.

Middleware, in the form of a systems-integration platform, can provide an interface between all of the different systems to provide a unified programming model to interact between the devices and legacy systems. Providing a common solution to data integration, management and security issues increases efficiency and reduces risk. In addition, built-in adapters to third-party solutions and development tools can speed up the process of creating IoT applications.

As we enter the era of the Internet of Things, CRM solutions will evolve and take customer service to the next level, by enabling enterprises to better understand their customers and offer proactive support.

Having a better understanding of the customer journey is the best way in which organizations can build a strong brand and lasting customer loyalty. Those that leverage the IoT to gain insights into each step of the customer journey can gain a competitive advantage, and having tools to simplify and speed up the process can make this capability available to businesses of all sizes, and not just the giants.

*Glenn Johnson is the senior VP of Magic Software Enterprises Americas. He has presented his views on the Internet of Things at dozens of industry meetings and conferences, and his interviews about software industry issues have been aired on NBC's Today Show, as well as E! News and Discovery.

Originally posted at Internet of Things Journal (IoT)