A new Forrester report by Erica Driver and Ron Rogowski suggests that rich Internet applications (RIAs) may usurp Microsoft Office and enterprise portals as the front-end UIs for "decision-makers and task-oriented workers". The phrase Forrester uses for this front end is "Information Workplaces (IWs)".
RIAs in the enterprise; source: Forrester
The report states that today, enterprise portals and Microsoft Office are the most common front ends "through which content, collaboration, enterprise applications, and other services are delivered to workers in a seamless, contextual way." However, says Forrester, RIA technology is improving that user experience and is being increasingly used by mid to large enterprises. The report states:
"Because RIAs improve the way people find and manipulate content, complete transactions, and consume multimedia content, these technologies are ideal for improving the user experience for information workers. Moving forward, RIA technologies like Adobe Flash and Flex, Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR), Ajax, the Curl RIA Platform, Laszlo Systems OpenLaszlo and Webtop, Microsoft Silverlight, NexawebÄôs Enterprise Web 2.0 Suite, Oracle WebCenter, and Sun JavaFX will be used to augment or even replace traditional enterprise portals and Microsoft Office as IW front ends."
The report goes on to say that RIA-based Information Workplaces create a "seamless, individualized, and visual" environment for information workers.
A lot of the report is based on data gained from vendors with a horse in the RIA race; including Adobe, Microsoft, Curl, Laszlo Systems, among others. Plus information gleaned from RIA specialists. So we should take the findings with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, the amount of RIA activity happening on the Web today suggests that the enterprise will indeed be mined. Just as consumer web apps have made their way into the Enterprise over the past few years, so will RIA infiltrate the office. It's also worth pointing out that Google, with its army of AJAX office apps, will be among the RIA providers vying to be a front end in the enterprise.