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Article

Scorecard Marketplace – A Reference Model to Deliver Dashboards on Tablets

Using this model, scorecards are easily published and subscribed to by enterprise users, partners and business divisions

Business always needs the ability to deliver real-time analytics on-demand for better information visibility and decision making anytime anywhere. Delivering dashboards on mobile devices or tablets has become a very popular use case for executives. The use case has more relevancy now than ever with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) gaining momentum across organizations.

Organizations around the world are realizing that the need for a full spectrum of dashboards on mobiles is challenging. Especially in utilizing existing investment, providing rich user experience, and simplifying mobile enablement. This article details a reference model, i.e., Scorecard Marketplace, which is useful for pushing the existing reports and analytics to mobiles and tablets with minimal extension by addressing the above challenges. The model uses the popular Marketplace concept and can be published internally to the organization (on-premise) or it can sit on (public) cloud.

Overview
Dashboards are all about effective representation of data and analysis. The typical activities involved in creating dashboards are:

  • Identifying data and conceptualizing scorecards - (Business)
  • Digitizing scorecards and User Experience - (Business and IT)
  • Accessibility to scorecards (Publishing and Subscribing) - (IT)
  • Real time data within scorecards - (IT)

Most of the big players and ISVs provide end-to-end enterprise solutions for scorecards by covering these major activities, but they have yet to:

  • Simplify and ease mobile enablement
  • Bring rich user experience on mobile or tablets that modern enterprise users need, e.g., video conferencing with a partner who is underperforming.
  • Maximize utilization of existing investment

This need within enterprises has led us to the idea of a Scorecard Marketplace, which really simplifies and expedites mobile enablement and provides a very rich user experience.

Scorecard Marketplace: a marketplace for digital scorecards
A Scorecard Marketplace is a reference model that delivers scorecards to tablets and mobile devices from the cloud by leveraging the Marketplace concept. This makes publishing and subscribing of digital scorecards really simple and seamless across mobiles and tablets. Though there are quite a few architecture models in the market to build scorecards, the Scorecard Marketplace model is promising for following reasons:

Easy to adopt
Through standardized publishing and subscribing interfaces the Scorecard Marketplace can be conceptualized to any domain. Platform can use existing infrastructure and be hosted internal to an enterprise (on-premise) or sit on a (public) cloud.

Data Anytime, Anywhere, on Any Device
The business divisions and/or partners across regions can publish new scorecards to marketplace through standard publishing interface. Subscribers can subscribe to authorized scorecards on marketplace from any device, anywhere, anytime.

Native/Rich User Experience
With a plethora of mobiles and tablets available in the market, user experience plays a key role while using scorecards. Dashboard App (native or web) brings the much-needed user experience to users.

In a nutshell, the Scorecard Marketplace simplifies the Business Intelligence work within enterprises and enables these scorecards on mobile devices and tablets with minimal extension work.

Conceptual Architecture
The conceptual architecture of the Scorecard Marketplace has three main actors, i.e., Platform, Enterprise systems and Enterprise users.

Platform typically does the heavy lifting needed for a marketplace including data handling and security. It mainly exposes standardized Publishing and Subscribing interfaces to the external world. This can be hosted either on premise within an enterprise or on a public cloud.

Enterprise systems publish scorecards to a marketplace via the platform publishing interface. (Details below)

Enterprise users subscribe to authorized scorecards by directly consuming a Subscribing interface into their own applications or via a readily available Dashboard app (native or web), which in turn accesses the marketplace via the platform subscribing interface.

Conceptual architecture for Scorecard Marketplace

Major Components of the Architecture
Technically two major components involved in the architecture are the Scorecard Marketplace Platform and the Dashboard App

Scorecard Marketplace Platform is a server component that hosts the scorecard marketplace. Interaction with the platform is simplified through Publishing and Subscribing APIs, mostly RESTful, through which scorecards are published and subscribed from anywhere, anytime on any device in a secure way. These APIs can just be an extension of existing enterprise implementations. The platform can also perform periodic data synchronization with enterprise systems to get real-time data for scorecards. Data synchronization information is updated to the platform along with publishing data. Synchronization can follow the standards available in the market.

The Dashboard App is typically a readily available native application that can be separately built for each channel. A web version of the same can be provided for web access but with limited user experience. The app provides subscription access to the scorecard marketplace and contains prebuilt UI templates to render data into charts, documents, media files, etc., so that user experience is uniform across mobiles and tablets. Internally, the app consumes subscribing API exposed by the platform. Some of the technical features the app can include are:

  • Touch-zoom and swipe experience, modern look and feel for scorecards
  • Alerts, notifications, dashboards and performance scorecards with primitive trend analysis, what-if analysis and root-cause analysis capabilities
  • Integration with video conferencing, instant messaging and voice chat solutions
  • Integration with maps for global network visibility

Access to the scorecards is really made simple by using the Platform and Dashboard App.

Publishing API Internals
An authorized publisher, an enterprise system or a business division or a partner, is just required to upload Scorecard.zip to Scorecard Marketplace via Publishing API to have new scorecards appearing in the marketplace. The package is nothing but a list of XML files placed in a structured way. XML has been chosen for data representation and interoperability. Usually data representations are extensible and customizable for future needs.

Typical Scorecard.zip Structure
While designing a publishing package (Scorecard.zip), it's always good to have a simple publishing interface following standards so that its adoption into organizations is made easy and extensible for future needs. A typical structure can include:

container.xml is the key file, a starting point of the package holding information about scorecards to be uploaded to a marketplace.

mimetype just holds the mime type of the package. In this case it is "application/zip" value.

package.xml is a scorecards file that holds metadata and manifest information.

metadata holds

o   Publisher identity

o   Configuration details such as security, data synchronization, etc.

  • manifest holds
    • References to below list of files in the package for getting scorecard/s snapshot data, security, and display information.

§  snapshot.data holds snapshot data that is viewed in scorecards

§  security.policy holds information on user access and other restrictions

ui.template holds custom templates (typically XSLT) that are used to render data while displaying scorecards.

Typical steps in publishing

Subscribing API Internals
An authorized subscriber, an enterprise system or a business division or a partner, subscribe to the Scorecard Marketplace and get the authorized scorecards in the form of XML or JSON through a Subscribing API. Organizations can use the Dashboard App for rich user experience and faster mobile enablement.

Typical steps in subscribing from tablets or mobiles

Conclusion
The Scorecard Marketplace is a promising reference model for enterprises to enable digital dashboards on mobile and tablets. Using this model, scorecards are easily published and subscribed to by enterprise users, partners and business divisions from anywhere, anytime on any device. In the article, we have tried conceptualizing the architecture for the model with standardized Publishing and Subscription interfaces. This initial work can be extended to the next level by bringing more generalization to scorecards and adding more features on enterprise needs such as security, multiple marketplaces, and SaaS.

More Stories By Bhavin Raichura

Bhavin Jayantilal Raichura is Principal Technology Architect, Manufacturing, at Infosys Limited. He has 15+ years of experience in the IT industry; He works with Infosys clients for technology-consulting, solution-advisory and execution of large transformation programs. He has led conceptualization-to-commercialization cycles of multiple products & platforms, technology-practices and technology center-of-excellence at Infosys. He has rich experience in making technology more relevant to business and driving the business of technology. He can be reached at Bhavin_Raichura@infosys.com.

More Stories By Sudheer Polavarapu

Sudheer Polavarapu is a Technology Architect, Manufacturing, at Infosys Limited. He has nearly 12 years of IT industry experience working on various end-to-end enterprise Java-related applications. His areas of expertise include Service Oriented Architectures, High performance applications, Security, Mobility, and Web UI. He is an active member of multiple CoEs within Infosys, and his areas of interests include Scalable high performance architectures and Connected Devices (Internet of Things). He can be reached at Sudheer_Polavarapu@infosys.com.

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Ruchi Bajpai is a Technology Architect, Manufacturing, at Infosys Limited. She has more than 10 years of industry experience working across Microsoft technologies. As part of her work she provides technology consulting and solution advisory to clients. She is passionate about learning new things in technology. Her adventure with technology can be found at http://technicaldishes.blogspot.com. Ruchi can be reached at Ruchi_Bajapi@infosys.com.

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