Monday, January 30, 2012

Siebel CRM UI Options in the Mobile Web (Updated)

While Siebelians all over the world patiently wait for the 2012 innovation pack (featuring the new ActiveX-free Open UI for Siebel CRM), it might be a clever move to stay informed about what is available now to provide alternative user interfaces for Siebel CRM (other than HI Client, that is).

In the following post, I intend to sort out the various pieces of information which are available on the web today. Please note that the article focuses on applications available in online (browser or app) mode, so leaves out offerings like Siebel CRM Desktop which are installed locally.

1. Standard Interactivity Client

Opposed to High Interactivity, the SI option (commonly used for customer or partner facing applications) doesn't use ActiveX, hence it lacks a lot of the usability of the HI client option but therefore also supports browsers other than Microsoft's IE. Besides that, the look and feel is totally 19hundredsomething, so many developers and end users are reluctant to use it. However, it is easy to achieve and suitable for fast deployments of CRM data to browsers external of your corporate network.

Neel from siebel unleashed has recently blogged about how to enable SI for any modern browser.

For your convenience, here is a screenshot of a classic Siebel SI application, namely Siebel Partner Portal in Mozilla Firefox.


2. Siebel Wireless

Another out-of-the-box mechanism to provide Siebel CRM data and the ability to update it in smaller browsers such as Safari on the iPhone or Blackberry, Android or other devices is the option to (license and) fire up the wireless applications on your Servers.

The UI is far from modern and sexy but nonetheless functional (and it loads really fast because it's plain HTML). I have described Siebel Wireless some time ago in this post. Fellow blogger Wentari has gone great lengths and provides a Youtube video of a Siebel Wireless application with a more modern skinning.

See Wentari's video for more.
3. Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF)

With the release of version 8.1.1, Oracle co-released a family of applications built using its very own ADF product. The applications go by the name of Siebel E-Commerce and E-Support and are the next generation  of Siebel eSales and eService respectively.

The ADF based applications use the Siebel inbound web services to fetch and manipulate data from the Siebel business layer. Using this approach, customers can also develop their own rich enterprise applications (Anyone remembering rea.oracle.com?).


Given the fact that Oracle pursues an "all ADF" strategy for new products and releases (Oracle BI and Fusion Applications being the more prominent ADF implementations), creating custom ADF applications seems to have some impact in future design decisions.

Update: As Jan points out in his comment, Oracle no longer offers the E-Commerce and E-Support solutions to new customers.

I was able to locate an older tutorial which demonstrates how to create a web application using ADF and Siebel web services.

4. There's (almost) an app for that

When you google for Siebel iPad, you will find that Oracle has an official product offering named Siebel REST API. An extensive white paper has been published, which describes the REST architecture and a POC for an online shop iPad app.

The REST API allows app developers to access Siebel CRM data via a (secure) middleware server which manages the session connectivity to the Siebel inbound web services. Developers can therefore focus on creating the app and don't have to deal with the complexity of web services and security. The technology is not limited to Apple's iPhone/iPad apps. Blackberry, Android and other smartphone OSs can be targeted as well.

The online shop iPad app can be marveled at in this Youtube video.

Screenshot from the Siebel iPad POC video.
Another interesting demo of Siebel on a smartphone can be found here.


Update: Did I say "almost"? Well, have a look at this then.

Summary

Be it out-of-the-box, back-to-the-future SI or wireless applications or sophisticated custom developed ADF or native apps, there are plenty of options to deliver Siebel CRM data to end users and customers. Of course we are all waiting for Open UI which - to my personal opinion - will be an interesting additional option to say the least.

Did I miss something? Please use the comments as usual.

have a nice day

@lex

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex,
it might be worthwhile to mention that Siebel E-Commerce and E-Support are under controlled availability and not available to new customers any more,

Jan

Alexander Hansal said...

Hi Jan,

thanks for the update. I have updated the post accordingly.

have a nice day

@lex

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex,

Thanks For the post. realy usefull. Do you have any idea if Siebel Standard application is supported on Blackberry browsers?

Regards,
Jimit

Alexander Hansal said...

Hi Jimit,

Siebel Wireless applications should run smoothly on Blackberry browsers. If you refer to standard interactivity clients (like Partner Portal), I am in doubt.

have a nice day

@lex

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex,

Thanks for your reply. As you mentioned Siebel Wireless is working smooth on blackberry browsers.

If standard interactivity works on blackberry browsers works then, that wil be free solution (no licenses required).

As per the Siebel Ssytem requirement documents Browsers meeting the standard below are supported for standard interactivity.

■ Browsers must support HTML 4.01 standard
■ Browsers must support CSS level 2.1 (CSS level 3.0 support is recommended and provides enhanced features)
■ Browsers must support JavaScript version 1.5

and as per blackbery browser (5.0 onwards) capabilities, they met all above. So trying this option.

Regards

Elango said...

Hi Alex,

Would you be able to comment on the Road Map for Product eConfigurator ?

Thank you

-Elango

Alexander Hansal said...

Hi Elango,

the only thing I can say is that it has been enhanced in 8.1.1.9 / 8.2.2.2 for Open UI. So there is a tangible investment from Oracle.

But the official roadmap should come from Oracle of course.

have a nice day

@lex

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex,

Thanks for the post.

I have 2 questions..

1) Why customer/Partner facing applications should be based on SI Mode. Cant they use HI Mode itself. Let say, all the customers are strictly using IE (even by forcing them with a message on opening application URL to download IE) and are using Windows only, then cant HI Mode application be given to Customers also? Because Customers/ Partners will also get the benefits of ActiveX Controls which works only in IE.

Please let me know if there are any other specific reasons to use only SI mode for customer/Partners..

2) With Open UI as it is going to replace ActiveX Proxy with JQuery Proxy which works in most of the browsers, i thick Employees, Customers, and Partners can use only one application that is Open UI enabled. So everyone will have similar kind of behavior irrespective of browser. Am i correct? Please let me know ur comments.

Thanks,
Azeej Babu Shaik

Alexander Hansal said...

Hi Azeej,

you're right with both: When sticking to IE (8 or earlier), HI clients can be used by every user type including partners or customers. But of course, there would be lots of security concerns having to allow "foreign" ActiveX controls.

And of course, Open UI is here and can be considered the future of the Siebel client on any device and any browser.

(And because Open UI is here to stay, I would tend to recommend it rather than using the outdated ActiveX technology)

have a nice day

@lex