Infor, a provider of industry specific enterprise applications, has developed a prototype app for mobile devices that allows users to search for customer or client information using voice commands. The app integrates with Apple's voice recognition tool, Siri, but uses its own cloud-based natural language processing engine to search stored enterprise data and dive into applications.
"Siri is a third party tool, and it will take my voice and translate it, but what we are able to do is apply context to those words and make it something meaningful," said Nick Borth, product manager at Infor. "Eventually you will able to search all of your mobile data, check authorisations to make sure that the data is appropriate for you, and then if your company uses an application that is relevant to your search query, you will be able to drill down into it and take action," he added.
Currently the prototype, which was built in just seven hours by Infor's development team, only allows users to find customers in certain cities, find the name of a contact or find the specific name of a customer. A full version for general release is expected in November.
The app will use Infor's latest middleware offering ION, which allows enterprises to easily integrate disparate or third party apps that had previously been connected using point-to-point solutions. The ION offering includes Business Vault, which is essentially a repository for enterprise data.
It is the Business Vault platform that will enable the natural language processing engine to crawl stored data upon request.
"When you start to bring all of this together, the power of the natural language processing engine with the power of big data [stored in the business vault], you begin to get some very meaningful interactions," explained Borth.
Borth also described how the engine and software will eventually be available across all Infor products that use ION.
"We are going to develop this for mobile first, but the engine will have a very fluid and open API for all of our core products to ingrate voice into the user interface," he said.
Infor's core mobile offering includes Infor10 Road Warrior, which is a sales-force automation app for Infor ERP applications, a motion and query analysis app, which is used for designing reports, and HMS, an industry specific app for the hotel check-in sector.
Development of Infor's mobile apps will initially be for Apple's iOS verion 5.0 and above, but will eventually be extended to Android. Borth also indicated that Infor is likely to support a third platform in the future, probably Microsoft's Windows platform, which is used for the Windows 7 phone and future Windows 8 tablets.
Infor is also planning to develop a marketplace for its customers to submit mobile applications that they have developed using Infor's Motion platform, where it may take these on and create a commercial offering.
"We believe that the success in mobile is in building a community. We want customers to build apps that solve their problems, and we are going to build a marketplace for them to submit apps to share with other customers and Infor software users," said Borth.
"So, for the first time as a vendor we are walking into the customer world and looking to create new business partnerships. We plan to launch this in the first half of 2013."
Infor's main customer event, Inforum 2012, has been taking place in Denver this week.