What is Siebel Open UI?

Siebel Open UI is not exactly new today, but there are more people confused about what exactly is the value it brings to the table, and where to begin learning it. So after a long hiatus, I wanted to put together something that may begin the end of all confusions!

open-ui-logo

But first, let us deal with what exactly it is. Subsequent posts explore more about what Open UI is and how much of a value that adds to Siebel CRM.

 

What is Siebel Open UI?

Siebel Open UI is a user interface framework that provides the next gen client abilities to Siebel desktop and mobile applications. It is Oracle’s attempt to refresh Siebel Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application suite and make it more acceptable to today’s user.

what is siebel open ui

Before Open UI, Siebel provided (and continues to provide) user interface based on two primary technologies for clients connected to the server:

  1. Siebel High Interactivity Framework (HI), which provides a rich user interface and numerous capabilities aimed at internal users. In Siebel parlance, these internal facing applications are known as employee applications. Siebel High Interactivity applications use Microsoft ActiveX technology to render UI for the clients based on Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) browser. ActiveX is a technology of 90’s, and itself an adaptation of the earlier Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) and Component Object Model (COM) technologies that enabled client access to data and processes on a remote server.
  2. Siebel Standard Interactivity Framework (SI) provides a more website-like experience, and works on any standard browser and operating system. SI is intended for end-user or partner who need a more flexible supporting platform to access Siebel functionality. This customer or partner specific application works well in an ecosystem that is not subject to organization’s control and is capable of applying the same business rules defined for employee-facing applications. SI uses a combination of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS to render the UI for the clients

Refer Oracle documentation to read up more on Siebel HI vs. SI.

 

Why bring in Siebel UI changes now?

Let’s look at burning issues with the UI choices that Siebel provided earlier:

  • HI is the only option for employees or partners who work seamlessly within the organization. But HI is based on an ancient technology that has greatly diminished in usage. No major browser other than IE support or have any plans to support ActiveX.
  • ActiveX does not seem to have a future. The new browsing experience in Internet Explorer version 10 on Windows 8 operating system does not support ActiveX.
  • The “rich” client functionalities offered by ActiveX are considered a security issue. Though this is controlled by using signed ActiveX controls, ActiveX did bring in a lot of critique in the way it was implemented and deployed
  • SI is not a good option for both internal and external users. The UI looks dated, and the UI behaves like an old HTML page of the 90s. The entire page suffers from frequent “refreshes” to view or update data, the changes allowed to look and feel are basic, and overall does a good job in frustrating users

The biggest problem however is – ‘change’. Internet technologies have moved leaps and bounds in the past decade, and Siebel has lagged behind in embracing that change. CRM User FrustrationWith today’s users getting exposed to the latest in consumer technologies (read Gmail, Facebook, and the like), it is only natural that they bring the same expectations to their workplace. UI is the window to what the application can do, and if that window is tainted, the actual and perceived dent in productivity is immense. With a great back end system tailor made to many industries, the decline of Siebel was accelerated due to the bulky UI that could not keep up with the times. So then, enter Open UI.

 

 

Open UI – A Game Changer for Siebel

Open UI is today’s technology. With a strong focus on JavaScript, CSS and HTML/HTML5, Siebel changes the UI experience in one big sweep.

  1. Open UI, as the name implies, is a about UI. The user interface undergoes a thorough overhaul. The earlier ActiveX based system gives way to a new system that strongly leverages JavaScript, and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). The use of JavaScript brings today’s standards and the ability to leverage the framework in interesting ways. Siebel Open UI Contact Tiles The UI provides a polished user experience that is easy on the eye, and fully functional
  2. Open UI frees the organizations from the shackle of closely controlled and restrictive environments just to get Siebel to work. Siebel applications do not have a bright track record of quickly following changes of browsers/operating systems. The problems will be mitigated largely now that the applications are web-standards complaint
  3. In addition to desktops, the new framework can support browsers on mobile devices as well. Applications can be responsive to device layouts, and form factors. As of Siebel 8.1.1.11 offline support for mobile devices is enabled for select applications, but there is no real reason for it not to work elsewhere 
  4. While providing an enhanced user interface, Open UI uses the same back end as the earlier Siebel High Interactivity applications..  Siebel Open UI can co-exist with Siebel High Interactivity and Standard Interactivity clients. The architecture of Open UI provides a seamless transition into deployment and usage of the all new client, while maintaining the older Siebel HI technology (for now). Open UI as of Siebel version 8.1.1.11 does not provide a replacement for Siebel Standard Interactivity clients, which will continue to work as they were for the past decade.

siebel open ui vs. hi

Siebel CRM applications has been a strong leader in the CRM space across diverse industries. Siebel CRM’s industry specific capabilities are often unrivalled and CRM products of today are still playing a catch-up game in a few of those industries. Siebel Open UI is an opportunity to breathe some life into your Siebel implementation.

 

What Siebel Open UI is not..

Siebel Open UI is not an answer to all of Siebel’s problems.

  • We still have the much-disliked way of working with a zillion screens, views and the drill-downs. Although you can build a framework using JavaScript and make these problems go away, that is a significant investment on top of an already significant investment
  • Development for Siebel can easily cross a million dollars pre or post Open UI. Open UI adds further complexity to the development process. This is not really a problem with Siebel itself, but mostly shows the complexity involved in the client deployments
  • Open UI development is still dependent on Tools (unless you try to introduce screens directly reading from the database). The deployment process remains the same for the most part
  • Requirements from the client are more flexible now – Open UI supports more browsers and does not require Windows operating system. But there are no significant changes that can be made on the server
  • Upgrades can become more complicated. The way Siebel 8.1.1.10 provided the folder structure was changed in Siebel 8.1.1.11, and this caused confusion for a point upgrade. I seriously doubt whether there will be another major version of Siebel, but if there is, I can only wish you good luck 🙂
  • Siebel is not truly multi-tenant application, and it will remain so

 

Wrapping up..

Siebel Open UI was released in Dec ‘13 as an innovation pack along with Siebel version 8.1.1.9. It underwent two major iterations in the second and last quarters of 2013. With Siebel 8.1.1.11, Oracle has fixed a few nagging issues and the application has been ready for prime time. There are a few customers who have gone live as well, without any significant issues. So, Open UI is not going anywhere for now – at least not until Siebel is here.

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