At the Adobe MAX developer conference yesterday, Adobe announced the release of Adobe LiveCycle Enterprise Suite 2.5. The new version of LiveCycle is designed to increase the number of features and capabilities available to end users, particularly mobile users, and to streamline the use of information within a company or organization.
"We're trying to provide a compelling experience for the customer and simplify things for front line employees," explains Chris Ethier, group manager for LiveCycle Product Marketing.
One substantial addition to LiveCycle 2.5 allows mobile users to not only view and approve tasks, such as a manager approving an expense report, but to initiate them as well. Developed to allow end users to be even more efficient as remote workers, the feature would allow, for example, an insurance agent to add items to a client's policy from his smart-phone. The feature is available on iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Android devices; the Android solution also allows users to voice-search and capture photos.
"We're looking to enable mobile workforces to initiate processes-this is new," says Marc Eaman, Adobe corporate evangelist, adding, "We are automating capabilities that front line employees need to properly service customers." The idea is that no matter how a client interacts with the company, they will have a consistent, smooth, and positive experience.
Adobe also announced three Solution Accelerators built on LiveCycle: managed review and approval, correspondence management, and interactive statements.
"The [managed review and approval] solution accelerator allows me to set up a review and approval process without IT involvement," explains Ethier, adding that a wizard walks users through a simple 15-minute set-up process.
The correspondence management solution accelerator enables companies to maintain templates in a central location and update them, without them having to route new templates to every employee when changes are made.
Perhaps the most compelling is the interactive statements solution accelerator, which is designed to provide a better end user experience; it allows clients to create statements that the recipient can work off of, even though they arrive via email as a "good old PDF file," explains Eaman. So if, for example, someone receives a credit card statement, he could click on the attachment, verify his identity with a username and password, then look at the statement and pay a bill, dispute a charge, check reward point balances, or take any number of other actions.
"Anyone can interact with this with a free Reader," says Eaman. "It works on Macs and PCs, so our customers can be assured that they can interact with all of their customers." It also allows for the integration of targeted ads, so if this customer purchases gas frequently, a hybrid auto loan advertisement might appear.
Of the interactive statements accelerator, Tim Hickernell, lead analyst for Info-Tech Research Group, said: "Utilities and financial services firms have been developing e-statements and analytical portals for customers since the dawn of the Internet. But the dominant interface for users is both a statement and a separate portal for analysis. Adobe's new interactive statement solution accelerator will enable suppliers to merge these user interfaces into one interactive statement presented as a traditional business document, but with the analytics contextually embedded right with the statement data. ... In addition to increasing consumer convenience, this convergence will also increase adoption of e-statements by consumers."
Key verticals for LiveCycle 2.5 include financial services, government, and insurance, but Eaman notes that the company sees a "tremendous amount of potential" to expand the target audience, especially into those markets that are heavily dependent on processing forms. Other developments are also expected to come out of Adobe's acquisition of Day Software, which is scheduled to close in the fourth quarter of Adobe's 2010 fiscal year. Leveraging Day's areas of expertise, future LiveCycle versions are likely to include web CMS, analytics, and measurement tools.