Portals: Seamlessness

This post is the sixth in a series about building portals for teams and groups to interact with customers. If you’re interested in reading more please follow us on twitter or subscribe in the right-hand margin of this blog —>

In the last five posts, you’ve gotten a website up and running – announced your team, set up a way for your team to talk to customers and another for customers to talk to your team. Last post we started exploring the possibility of integrating another system into your portal.

Whether you realize it or not, you have just made a terrible mistake.

No kidding.

The complexity of your little portal has more than doubled. Now that you have this other system “in there” it has the ability to hurt your customer experience! What if that system makes changes? What if the data fails? How will your customers feel? What perception are you giving them?

Which brings us to another element each portion of your portal needs consider; seamlessness.

Remember all that total-cost-of-ownership stuff I was rambling about last week? That’s what I mean. If that data source goes down, how does your portal look? Do the customers realize it’s down? How many ways can you stop a good experience? Too many.

Putting safeguards in place may help:

  1. Can you replicate the database/app locally and serve it through the website? This way if it goes down, your version stays up.
  2. Can you make the portal dynamic, so that if the data source is unavailable, users see a different page/experience?
  3. How about automated testing and alerting?

This stuff can be expensive – so it’s best to know what you’re getting into. Try things out, but always be ready to pivot.

What else causes a seamless experience for users?

Colors, text and words.

Ugh, I hate this one. But it’s equally important. To make the experience a good one, all your content “should” match. This phrase just makes me ill, because like perfection – this is unattainable. There will always be out of date content. One website will update before all the rest, one document will keep being out there without an update – this is just part of reality. Get ready to work on this for the rest of your career.

The look and feel should also match other websites and experiences – where possible.

Search is a huge part of how people interact with the web. Neglecting search is an active and intentional attempt to derail most modern technology users. This can also help make your portal seem seamless and get customers to engage.

Navigation has a large impact on experience. Designers working with personas understand that navigation for one person is not navigation for all people. And no matter what decision you make on the design of navigation, it will be wrong for some people. You’ll have to deal with it.

The best navigation supports permalinks for people that bookmark what they need, or use the autofill feature of their browser to navigate to exactly what they want. Here’s some awesome reading about navigation. Jared is a great writer about experience.

And as always – test these things and listen to your customers. They will tell you when your search results suck. They will tell you when they can’t navigate to their favorite spot in less than 2 clicks. They are here for you!

join us for the next segment “Is that a Portal in your pocket?” by following us on twitter or subscribing in the right-hand margin of this site —>

Accepting credit cards

We’ve been getting questions about training and when the next event will be held. This is pretty cool to us, and something we wanted to offer to customers.

So we setup a simple page to explain the event, got a space reserved and started with a simple form to accept registrations:

simple form

 

Soon after, we needed this front-end to send registrations to a list of people. So obviously we hooked it up to our product Kinetic Task – and started sending signups to our CRM solution “SalesForce” using a pre-built handler.

The form had an option for people to “bill later” but we really wanted to start taking credit cards. So then we downloaded and added the Stripe handler.

Then, after creating a stripe account, all we needed to do was add some Javascript to the front-end form and send the charges to checkout with stripe! The end-result is quite striking – and a great experience:

Checkout screen

 

Need to start taking credit cards easily? Sign up to try Kinetic Task today!

To read all the details of this integration, there is an article on Kinetic Community.

Release Roundup Q2

Release Roundup Q2 – 2017

We’re proud to announce that we released Kinetic Request CE 2.0 and Kinetic Task 4.2 all while supporting major go-live activities and the maintenance and support of kinops.

New Features in Kinetic Request CE 2.0

  • Teams enable better management permissions and groups
  • Submission handles help quickly identify submissions
  • Submission activities simplify the visibility of tasks, approvals and other activities associated to a submission
  • Submission support facilitates a secure summary of submissions and their related activities

New Features in Kinetic Task 4.2

  • Ability to be used and secured based upon Kinetic Request CE users and teams, without duplicating user information

And as always, these changes come with a myriad of performance enhancements and bug fixes. For a complete listing – check out our community site: https://community.kineticdata.com

Got questions? Suggestions? We’re always listening – especially wally@kineticdata.com and sales@kineticdata.com – drop us a line!

In the beginning…

tl,dr: all business processes start somewhere, whether data, event or request driven. That simple goal is the starting point of request process improvement.

I just need to collect people’s email addresses to get started.

I get into a lot of solution conversations with my friends. This is consulting 101, but there’s more on the line when I’m personally invested in this person.

There are other challenges too, when it’s personal there’s usually a cost prohibitive budget, a.k.a. no cash on hand.

So when someone asked me how to collect information and “get started” a lightbulb went off!

All processes start somewhere.

pexels-photo-28554It appears that almost all business processes come down to a click. An order. A bit. A byte. SOMETHING; whether it be data or a request, something triggers a business response.

Can we then assume that the best software gets this?

When I asked this, I re-asked it a couple times before I realized this was the value IT was providing. Particularly when it refers to Enterprise Architecture.

The decisions you make about the puzzle you are composing with technology investments influences your ability to react to information and events.

Which is why good architects and business analysts ask difficult questions about APIs and Integration points.

Can you send an example of the JSON?

It’s why great application developers know the details of how to alert and register events. As well as how to extract and parse event and alert information in a meaningful way.

How do you start a process? Is it as easy as filling in a request form? Do you click a button? Is it complex or simple? Why?

Participants in our second virtual hackathon have been challenged to start a business process. Create a simple registration application. Start capturing those email addresses and start the business process you need to start now.

For more information about how we feel about business processes check out this simple process flow, subscribe to our blog or check out who we are!

Integration Update

We’re always adding to the list of integrations that are pre-developed and free to download. Of course you can create a custom handler for ANY service with modern web integration, but this is just easier and more cost effective 🙂

This month we added a ton of Azure integrations – so I put together a quick summary of integrations you might be interested in (for a full and updated list always go here.):

Infrastructure Automation

Azure

We’ve added capabilities on both the Government and Cloud sides, specifically focused on Create, Delete, Status, Retrieve, Shutdown, Restart and Start.

Amazon S3

This handler generates an expiring URL for S3. Expiring URLs take a bucket, a key (path + filename) and an expiration and build up a special URL that will give the user access to the file only for a certain time period.

Amazon EC2

There are quite a few in here for working with Images and Instances. Listing, retrieving, statuses and starting/stopping – basic functions you need in EC2.

Chef

Bootstrap a node in chef using Knife.

Rackspace

Create and delete servers.

VMWare

VSphere, for infrastructure automation of course. All kinds of options here.

Tomcat

What else? It reloads 🙂

OpenNMS

Trigger nodes when records are created, updated and deleted.

Sales and CRM

Salesforce

Lots of functionality like managing contacts and accounts.

Salesforce Pardot

Create and retrieve prospects.

Sugar CRM

Retrieve account records.

Stripe

Take payments and complete checkouts

Task Management

GitHub

There’s too much to list here – but we use it, there’s a ton of integration points.

ServiceNow

Too many to list, users, groups, changes and incidents mainly.

Jira

Again, too many to list… probably because we love it.

Utilities

If you like JSON, XML, CSV and password generation These handlers are for you.

BMC

Lots of shops use BMC – so obviously we have tons of integrations. Check out the Remedy, ITSM, Bladelogic and Atrium integrations.

HP Service Manager

Create and update incidents.

IWise

Create and retrieve incidents

InfoBlox

Create A records, PTR records.

Communication and Collaboration

Basecamp

Tons of integrations, invites, todo’s, events, projects and more.

Active Directory

Too many to list – this is a biggie.

Google

User admin, calendar integration and group management

Twilio

Because nobody wants to talk on the phone anymore

Citrix

Meeting automation? Yes please.

Evernote

I love this app. Use the handler to create notes or notebooks

Dropbox

Move, delete, create and share.

LinkedIn

Company posting, profile posting and a listing of connecting people

SMTP

Manage emails, meeting requests and sending attachments.

Facebook

Events, links, statuses and posts.

Imgur

Upload automation; yes!

Twitter

Search followers, compose and include pictures

Yammer

Create, delete invite – lots of options.

The Latest Version of Kinetic Request

We built an agnostic platform to deliver incredible applications. It’s flexible, modern and fun to use.WallyLabGuy

Our customers have shown such enthusiasm and demand that we have made a lot of really big decisions:

  1. We are holding a regular hackathon and rewarding participants and winners handsomely
  2. We have announced a non-profit license that allows them to leverage the platform at a fraction or no cost
  3. Our employees are now granted 40 hours of time dedicated to participating in non-profits annually
  4. We are fully automating the delivery of our software so anyone can get started quickly
  5. Authoring training content so new users can get in and get started right after they download

And there’s more coming still.

This is a big change and we’re excited you are a part of it – if you’d like to learn more or stay in touch, follow us on twitter or subscribe for updates on http://developer.kineticdata.com or subscribe to our blog.

To read our press release click here!

Agile, DevOps Feed the Need for (Business) Speed

Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? “Slow and steady wins the race”? Econ 101 lectures about economies of scale? Business truisms like “Nobody ever got fired for buying…” (insert any large, established vendor name here)?

Such nuggets of business wisdom seem to no longer apply. Today, in the words of author Jason Jennings, “It’s not the big that eat the small, it’s the fast that eat the slow.” Competitive advantage comes from reworking business processes and service delivery models to improve speed not by 10% or even 100%, but by multiples. Consider:

  • How Agile, Scrum and DevOps meet need for business speedAccording to a recent Financial Times story by Lisa Pollack, “A Berlin company, founded in 2013, built an online service that allows new customers to open a bank account in under eight minutes…The company, Number26, has signed up more than 30,000 customers after launching what it deems ‘Europe’s most modern bank account’ in January.”

Continue reading “Agile, DevOps Feed the Need for (Business) Speed”

How to Provision a Virtual Private Cloud in 45 Seconds

By Andrew Kramer and Matt Howe

There’s increasing interest among enterprises in IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service). Many organizations are moving their servers to cloud-based providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, among others. The promise of the cloud is fast and cheap infrastructure, but that needs also be balanced with security and control.

Top cloud services providersAll cloud providers offer API integration to their services; Amazon has a vast array of services and completely documented APIs (and even a Ruby SDK), making the work of creating integration with these services fairly easy—if you have the right tools.

One of our customers, a global technology company, recently asked us to create a way to provision a Virtual Private Cloud that included their business rules—something they’ve struggled with using other tooling. Continue reading “How to Provision a Virtual Private Cloud in 45 Seconds”