20

Aug

Office365 Saturday Brisbane

Recently I had the privilege of presenting at the O365 Saturday event in Brisbane on behalf of K2. The event occurs annually and is free to anyone interested in finding out more about O365 and also a vast range of related topics. There were some great presentations including my own of course! 

I presented on the “Seamless integration of Office 365 with On-Premise SharePoint and Line-of-Business Data” utilising the K2 offerings to show first-hand how easy and often quickly this can be achieved. So how is this possible? 

The below scenario shows multiple line-of-business (LOB) systems each storing specific data related to a particular facet of an organisation. As it is quite clear each system sits separately to each other and historically it’s been both costly and timely to build solutions that integrate these systems. The example below also shows a custom solution that has gone through multiple versions, each time the implications of an update needs to take into account each of these systems. 

I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to utilise a tool such as K2 because it’s allowed me to consider solutions that in the past might have been disregarded. It makes these considerations easier as it provides the technology to extract the layers of technology. Let me show you the layers within K2 that make it possible to expose the data.  

Firstly the systems themselves are exposed through the use of service brokers, K2 provide quite a few service brokers (refer to the diagram above for a small sample) and you can use custom service brokers. So I can utilise these existing service brokers to create a K2 Service Object, almost like handing you the keys to the toy store. Before you get too excited, I’d just quickly point out that K2 provides several different methods of authentication. So it still ensures only the appropriate person can get the keys in the first place. 

The exciting part for me is just how efficient setting up these K2 Service Objects can be. Once you have the keys you can then unlock the door and set up your K2 Smart Objects. The power of these K2 Smart Objects blow my mind for system integration. It’s like picking an aisle to walk down and then being able to take any item(s) off the shelf. From a business context they expose the business representation of the data that is stored within these technologies. 

Once your data is exposed via K2 Smart Objects it’s possible to build forms, workflows and even reports. Now I’m going to focus on forms and what is possible using the K2 smartforms functionality. 

A K2 smartform is a rich web-based user interface that is built using views. Views are your visual representation of the data from an exposed SmartObject and allow users to input information in order to update your SmartObjects and the connected LOB system. The real advantage of views is once they are created they are reusable within other forms. This means that if I was to make a change to that view it would be reflected in all the forms that utilise that view. So immediately I’ve saved time as there is no need to update multiple forms. Below is a screenshot of the View Canvas. 

So once a view is constructed it’s easy to create a new K2 smartform by simply dragging the view onto the Form Canvas. This is where the ability to integrate systems really comes into play. For example, I now have the ability to display information from multiple LOB systems on the single form using views. It makes it possible to: 

- Display a list of customers from a CRM system

- Display a supporting view that displays the details of the customer selected in the primary view

- Provide a view that allows the user to add expenses against the selected customer linked to a SharePoint instance

This is just one example of what is possible with K2 smartforms. The power is in its ability to display information to users and be able to update that information when they need to without having to access multiple systems. Team that with K2’s workflow and reports capability and you have quite an extensive toolkit at your disposal to support any business process. 

Posted by: Simon Finlay, Consultant, Portals & Productivity Office365 | 20 August 2015

Tags: Office 365


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