Monday, February 22, 2016

Nintex InspireX Conference – Day Two

Erik Abderhalden

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz may be in Las Vegas today, but who cares when you have InspireX? So let's leave the polemics and the politics at the door and talk about forms and workflow.

I attended several sessions today but I'm going to focus on two things: a new product offering from Nintex and what's coming to Nintex for SharePoint 2016. If you missed my post from day one, you can view it here. If you want to check out day three, you can view it here.

Insight

I can safely say that after today's announcements and sessions, all your workflow dreams have been answered. Well, most of them. As a consultant, I am asked constantly how can clients get more insight into their workflows. This includes, but is not limited to, what workflows are running? How many workflows are in an errored state? The biggest question is also about ROI: when does Nintex pay for itself?

Nintex Insight is a new product offering that will answer all those questions and above. Announced during today's keynote, Insight essentially opens up all of the data Nintex captures and allows you to build dashboards using your favorite BI tool. Whether its Splunk, Tableau, or PowerBI, you can build a dashboard based on Nintex data. The best part is that Insight doesn't just display all the data from when you install it onwards; it displays all your historical Nintex data.

Here’s a blurry picture of an Insight dashboard in PowerBI. It’s much more impressive when it’s not blurry – sorry.

IMG_0193-1

Presently there's four facets to Insight, more are promised, and they are called lenses. With the lenses in Insight, you can measure the following:

o    Usage

·         Think of this as "how many?"

·         Focuses on consumption, utilization, and ROI

o    Inventory

·         Think of this as "who, what, where" and what are they using?

·         Where Nintex assets are located

o    Monitor

·         Operational monitoring

·         Get notified when they fail

o    Process Intelligence

·         Instrument and measure and improve your automated business process

§  Example how many instances have run?

·         This is about YOUR data, not Nintex data

This is awesome in so many ways. You can measure a workflows legacy duration versus its current duration. You can see how many times a particular action is done a day. You can see how often users approve or reject. So if you have a hunch that someone is rubber stamping their approvals, you can look at the data and see if that's true or not. Additionally, Insight will do wonders for migrations and upgrades. No more crazy PowerShell scripts; just go to Insight and see where workflows are used and how they're used, and make decisions based on the data.

Insight will work for hybrid deployments and multiple product versions. So if you're using O365 and SharePoint 2010 on-premise, you can use Insight. By exposing all this data, developers can skip building all the KPIs up-front, which could dilute the workflow.

We're going to learn a lot about Insight in the coming months. I hope after reading this that you can tell my energy is palpable. I am very eager to get my hands on Insight.

SharePoint 2016

I hope you're sitting down when you're reading this: In Nintex 2016, you can use all modern browsers in the workflow designer. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he just left the best present a workflow developer can ask for. After this was announced, there was a rousing round of applause from the crowd - because we're nerds like that. But this announcement is manna from heaven.

Now that that's out of the way, there's a bunch of new stuff coming in SharePoint 2016. What's great is that all functionality in Nintex 2016 will also be released to Nintex 2013.

Nintex focused on three"investment areas" for SharePoint 2016.

·         Ease of installation

·         Modern enterprise

·         Hybrid

Ease of Installation

Central Admin is getting a makeover. Instead of multiple icons, there will be one single access point. Things will be grouped together in a meaningful fashion.

Additionally, PowerShell is getting some love. You can leverage PowerShell for the installation and configuration. They're also adding Native PS cmdlets for common NWADMIN commands

Modern Enterprise

The aforementioned browser support falls under this investment area. Additionally, Nintex is making help for on-premise installs better with the integration of online help.

Hybrid

The beloved toolbox which you resize immediately upon launching the design canvas is getting a makeup. The icons are shrinking, and the presentation looks a lot cleaner.

External Start is not new, but I think we'll see more of this. Basically you can start your workflow from another system or even .NET code. With the ability to integrate with Azuqua, Zapier, IFTTT, LogicApps, PowerApps, this is going to be a killer feature in the near future. I'm pretty sure I started drooling when they mentioned it'll integrate with PowerApps. There was an external start demo in the session which was pretty cool. I can't wait to try this out myself and work with clients on developing solutions where they use external start.

BUT WAIT - THERE'S MORE!

Simmer down pot roast, there's more new stuff. This bullets below are all on the roadmap for this year.

Workflow

·       Doc generation

o   Coming on-premise

·       Workflow metadata

o   ID workflows as Business Critical, owned by a particular department etc.,

·       Modern web standards

·       Native support for REST and JSON

·       More Hybrid Love

Forms

·         You can customize Document Sets forms

o    HOLY SMOKES!

·         Multipage forms

·         Save forms as draft

·         Set default field value

o    Don't have to sweat the last two bullets out with JavaScript

I think I'm most excited about the ability to add metadata to a workflow. I may know something is business critical, but now I can identify it. This is amazing! If you have a large environment, now you can give your workflows some metadata to make it easier for folks to manage the workflow environment. The new stuff for forms is particularly great too. I like how you can now set a default field without having to use JavaScript, multipage forms, and the ability to save forms as a draft.

Loading Next Article