Home Adobe AIR Goes to Work: 6 Apps for the Corporate Desktop

Adobe AIR Goes to Work: 6 Apps for the Corporate Desktop

By now, you’ve heard of Adobe AIR – the cross-OS runtime that lets you run rich internet applications on your desktop. We’ve covered several of our favorite apps in the past, as well as places to find new ones, but so far all we’ve seen are consumer applications. What about the business world? Will companies ever be using AIR apps on their desktops? As it turns out, many already do and they’re as easy to deploy as Adobe Reader.

AIR at Work?

Oliver Goldman recently posted an entry on his Adobe company blog, declaring:

“Adobe AIR supports enterprise deployment. There; I’ve said it. We’ve had a bit of trouble getting this message out, so I wanted to be clear about this right up front.”

Curious about what kind of apps were really being used in the enterprise, we contacted Adobe to get some details. What we found out was that several big name companies have already starting using AIR on the corporate desktop, using apps to provide everything from real-time informational updates to employee directories. Below is a look at some of the apps in use today.

Enterprise AIR Apps

Employee Directory

Of course, one of the first deployments of AIR is going to be at Adobe, where they’ve been dog-fooding their own platform for a while now. At Adobe, one of the apps that they use is an employee directory which shows employee names, titles, details, photos, presence, and where that person is in the company hierarchy. Companies wishing to build their own employee directory app can use the sample app available here to do so.

Employee Directory Sample

Sales Team Apps

Another application used by Adobe and others is an app built for the sales team which allows them to enter customer issues, prioritize them, escalate them, and track them. The beauty of this app is its capability for offline mode – something which would benefit any sales team. When offline, sales professionals can enter in issues, and when they’re back online those issues get synced back to the company’s servers. To get started building an application for a sales team at their own company, a developer can access the Salesbuilder app available here.

Salesbuilder Sample App

Executive Dashboard

At Sharp in Japan, company employees use an executive dashboard built on AIR that shows things like incoming orders, inventory levels in different warehouses and factories, and the throughput of that inventory through every stage of the production process. (No screenshot available)

Customer Account Updates

In the finance industry, the international corporation that is Deutsche Bank has deployed Adobe AIR to their desktops which lets employees actively monitor activity on their customers’ accounts. The AIR solution provided a better alternative to what they had used prior – a browser-based application that required hitting the “refresh” button to see updates. Said Mike LaCava, Director and Global Head of Internet Channels in Global Transaction Banking at Deutsche Bank, AIR let them “leverage the power of the desktop and the Web to immediately deliver customized desktop notifications that will keep our clients well-informed and empowered while they carry out their daily activities.”

NASDAQ Market Replay

Another real-time use of AIR in the finance industry comes from NASDAQ, where an AIR app called NASDAQ Market Replay lets financial professionals replay market activity in detail at any point in time – even drilling down into an individual stock to view its historical performance. Here, AIR shows its ability to work with an extremely large data set, which is something that wouldn’t be quite as instantaneous in a browser.

NASDAQ Market Replay

Apps for Salesforce

SaaS technology and services company, Model Metrics, has released an on-demand AIR application that leverages salesforce.com’s new PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) Force.com to build an app called Accelerate4Pharma. This app is designed for the pharmaceutical marketing, sales, and customer service processes. Again, it was the online/offline switching capabilities that prompted the company to choose Adobe AIR and Flex.

Model Metrics Accelerate4Pharma

While those are just a sampling of apps, there are still other companies using Adobe Flex and Adobe AIR, including: Atlantic Records; BBC; Business Objects; FedEx Corp.; Loyalty Management Group (Nectar); Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group’s Neopets; and Wilson Sporting Goods.

Sample & Featured Apps

For any company wanting to deploy AIR apps internally, the Adobe Developer Center features code and sample apps for numerous applications like Lineup, an app that lets you browse your Exchange calendar; S3E, an app that provides a simple user interface for reading, writing, and deleting files stored on Amazon’s S3 data storage services; Timeslide, an app that delivers notifications to the desktop; and more.

You can also get access to completed, business-ready AIR apps like Agile Agenda, a project manager application; SearchCoders, a forum reader, blog reader, chat client, notepad, and bookmark manager designed specifically for developers looking for Flex-related information; among others.

Deploying AIR

For I.T. admins, getting the Adobe AIR apps to the desktop is as easy to do as using whatever deployment tools are already in place, like IBM Tivoli or Microsoft SMS. The redistribution site has more details on this.

These installations can even be customized in three different ways: 1) Enable/disable automatic AIR updates (good for locked-down environments), 2) Enable/disable the installation of AIR applications (to limit users to the apps already on their machines), and 3) Enable/disable the installation of AIR applications with unknown publishers (to limit users to only installing apps from known publishers.) More information is available in this whitepaper. (P.S. On the last page is an email address where you can bug Adobe for GPOs, which aren’t available yet).

As far as making any pre-built apps for SMBs available, Adobe isn’t there yet, and they may never be – they typically just provide technologies for others to build upon. However, there is a chance for seeing more productivity apps in the future in the same vein as the current acrobat.com AIR app (which, by the way, is really worth the download).

Acrobat.com AIR App

UPDATE:Adobe AIR for I.T. Administrators just launched today.

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