Finsemble | February 11, 2020

Advanced application management in Finsemble 4.0

Written by Cosaic Engineer

As organizations grow, so do their application portfolios. When building Finsemble 4.0, we discovered different use cases for application management based on the various needs of users and organizations.

With new advanced application management functionality, Finsemble 4.0 helps businesses curate their application library and get application management under control.

 

Users need:

  • A single place to find and launch their apps
  • The ability to focus on their primary apps and still have access to a larger catalog as needed
  • To organize the apps they use every day in a way that makes sense to them

On the other side of the coin, businesses need to curate their applications.

Organizations need:

  • A common deployment model that simplifies maintenance
  • A single place to manage updates
  • The means to surface apps to their users
  • Entitlement control
  • Simplified security assessment

Application management can help solve these issues, but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. When setting out to solve this problem, we had to consider different models that come to mind when planning an application management solution.

FDC3: A Standard for a Starting Point

In the finance sector, a standard for application interoperability is emerging. The Financial Desktop Connectivity and Collaboration Consortium (FDC3) defines specifications so that developers can build to a single set of APIs to talk with a smart desktop, use a common message format (“context data”), action verbs (“intents”) to trigger other apps, and finally a directory format (“app directory”).

Our focus today is on the FDC3 App Directory. Applications are listed in the directory, which is then used as a single reference source for application metadata used by desktops, application catalogs, and administrative tooling. Both enterprises and application providers are actively adopting this standard, so using the FDC3 App Directory standard is an important foundational element for application management. But like any standard, it requires an implementation—both the server-side directory and an interface for users to access and interact with the directory.

As a smart desktop provider and an active member of the FDC3 consortium, enabling the use of the FDC3 App Directory standard was imperative. As we work to use and evolve the standards, we also augment them. In many circumstances, Finsemble’s implementation extends the FDC3 specification in meaningful ways. For example, FDC3 is terse on search functionality. Finsemble’s app catalog extends the search specification with tag endpoints, allowing users to search by both app name and tag.

Model: Single Persona, Small Library

A mix of web and native apps provide a fragmented user experience. An application launcher can unify this experience. With a simple application launcher, users have a centralized place to begin their workflows.

This is the most basic model. If your users only require access to a handful of apps, it should be relatively straightforward to serve their needs.

Finsemble makes this easy. Users launch their apps from a customizable toolbar. They can favorite apps and pin them to the toolbar for easy launch. They can even save configurations of applications and switch between them, picking up exactly where they were previously.

Of course, this becomes more complicated the more apps you have.

Model: Single Persona, Large Library

Users may interact with dozens of applications depending on which task they’re engaged with. In this case, they might need a more sophisticated solution than just icons on the desktop or a simple launcher widget.

A large application library must be searchable, navigable, and aid in discoverability.

Searchable: With a high volume of apps, it’s essential that users can find the app they want when they want it. Metadata, such as the app’s title, a description, or keywords, greatly increases how searchable your catalog will be.

Navigable: The catalog’s interface must be usable and accessible. The content of the catalog should be organized in a way that users can quickly navigate to the tools they want to use.

Discoverable: The catalog should aid in matching a user with the tools they need. Images and videos, new app alerts, or content about highlighted apps can help surface information to users.

Advanced Application Launcher

Application Catalog

Along with our implementation of the FDC3 App Directory, we also created an advanced app launcher and app catalog. The advanced app launcher lets users quickly search through and launch a large application library. They can organize apps into folders, favorite apps to quickly launch them, and save frequently used configurations of applications.

The app catalog interfaces with a FDC3 App Directory and serves as a single repository for all of your organization’s apps. Users can construct their own bespoke app launcher by searching through the app catalog and pulling the apps you host into their own app launcher.

Model: Multiple Personas

A static library of applications provides one set of challenges; a dynamic library provides entirely different ones. What if you are tasked with creating a single solution that will work across multiple departments or teams?

If each group only uses a selection of your total application library, your application catalog must change based on user entitlements. By plugging your application catalog into your company’s entitlements system, you can provide a specific suite of applications based on user ID. In this way, each user only has access to the apps they need to do their job.

Finsemble provides for dynamic configuration: any of its application management tools can be configured at run-time based on user entitlements. It comes with hooks to plug in to your institution’s entitlements system and takes care of the rest. This is another example where we augmented the FDC3 standard to service more demanding scenarios encountered in the enterprise environment.

"We have many different fund administrators and they all have different applications, logins, workflows, etc. Nothing is integrated across different fund administrators or the many third parties who have to use the platform to triangulate valuations."
— COO, Global Hedge Fund (Quantitative)

Application Management: Putting Users First

Providing tools for application management requires careful thought. By understanding the needs of your users, you’ll provide the experience that best supports them.

Users are the best arbiters of their own user experience. Ideally, complex application management tools should provide a way for users to organize, group, and favorite their most-used apps.

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