Product | November 29, 2018

How a Unified Desktop Streamlines User Workflow

Written by Dan Schleifer

Person's hands typing on keyboard with stock chart overlay

To scale in today’s fast-paced finance environment, organizations need an effective way to clarify and communicate data from multiple sources and display that data in a single, unified desktop experience.

Does your financial desktop look like a hodgepodge of application windows, sticky notes, and browser tabs? If so, then chances are productivity is taking a substantial hit, and your users are unable to maximize on any given data to its fullest potential.

These days, data is behind almost every business decision we make, and in no place is this truer than within the financial sector. When users are routinely tracking things like share prices, exchange rates, financial records, and news updates, it’s easy to end up with a desktop that looks like the digital equivalent of a table covered in reams of disorganized paperwork.

Not only does a lack of organization lead to stunted productivity – a cluttered desktop can also lead to a host of administrative problems when it comes to data governance, cybersecurity, and regulatory compliance. The end result is a slow-moving organization that lacks the agility of its more innovative competitors. Learn more in this post: The Smart Desktop: An Integrated Blend of Old and New.

Why Hard-Coding Application Integrations Is Less than Ideal

So, you already know you need a consolidated view of your applications and data. The challenge lies in drawing that data from a vast and ever-changing array of different sources across your large institution and presenting the needed information in a user-friendly manner. These may include legacy desktop applications, instant messages, and emails, cloud-hosted apps, excel spreadsheets, security alerts, and RSS feeds, just to name a few.

A possible solution, and one that organizations have been relying on for decades, is to hard-code custom integrations and software solutions to bring everything together under a consolidated workspace. Unfortunately, this approach isn’t only prohibitively expensive and time consuming for most companies – it also lacks the agility of a more modern, modular approach. For example, you could end up investing a huge capital expense to integrate your existing software infrastructure only to find, a few years later, that it can no longer provide the features and functionality you need. That’s the point when technology becomes an obstacle, rather than a key driver to growth.

Out with the Old and in with the New? How About Taking Advantage of Both?

Given the dynamic nature of the modern enterprise IT landscape, there’s always an urgent need to be agile and adaptable. Contrary to popular belief, however, that doesn’t have to mean completely doing away with your legacy applications and starting over from scratch. That’s not how “digital transformation” that is often talked about in the industry is supposed to work.

Today, financial organizations use a range of systems including cloud-hosted apps, desktop software, and other products and services that support the sell-side and buy-side. At the same time, data is stored on a dizzyingly complex array of systems ranging from local storage networks to portable devices to online storage services. Furthermore, all that data is being communicated through different apps and protocols within an organization leading to our cluttered mess of a desktop. And, let’s not forget about the potential security issues that might arise from such a disparate and disconnected infrastructure.

Rather than building a hard-coded infrastructure to connect all your existing systems or starting from scratch, you can instead take advantage of the modular approach to software. Now, imagine being able to consolidate all applications – modern, legacy, or third-party – into a single, scalable, and unified desktop experience.

Customizing and Scaling Your Workspaces with Desktop Microservices

Manually coordinating dozens of desktop applications and web-based apps across the typical multimonitor environments used in the financial sector presents a major challenge. However, with a finance-focused end-user experience empowered by a modular desktop microservices architecture, users can enjoy full visibility into their workflows at any one time – no alt-tabbing necessary.

The ability to integrate applications old and new into such a consolidated workspace is one of the biggest challenges facing software teams. A desktop microservices architecture provides a solution by acting as an interface between the discrete individual services and the data presented to the user. Beneath the hood, there’s a system that coordinates the communication between the services and the desktop and a distributed storage system to connect said data. Acting as a repository for all data gathered from the underlying apps, this database can be called upon by any of the desktop apps to ensure consistent data quality throughout multiple UI elements. This is no small feat. Without such a feature, you run the risk of having two or more windows displaying conflicting data from different times and/or sources.

Adding a new microservice to your consolidated desktop view shouldn’t have to be complicated. With a lightweight and highly customizable underlying infrastructure at your disposal, you are able to easily develop a new integration using the APIs provided with little or no coding necessary. Even if you don’t have access to the source code, the platform allows you to choose the data sources to integrate into the desktop experience.

Streamlining End-User Workflows with One Cohesive Workspace

Now you have a system in which a multitude of underlying apps and data sources are being consolidated into a single database and sent to the end user by way of an optimized desktop experience. It’s a many-to-one solution that allows users to enjoy complete control over their workflows and full visibility into their data without having to work with dozens of application windows and browser tabs.

To preserve user autonomy, visualize data more effectively, and encourage effortless interaction, users should be able to choose which apps to display and arrange them in a way that suits their workflows. That’s where having a modular software infrastructure consisting of multiple applets providing a concise view of your data comes in. In the end, you have a fully-realized product at your disposal that simplifies integration and implementation for your development teams while helping end users enjoy a user-friendly and fully customizable experience.

Finsemble – our smart desktop platform – provides a fully consolidated desktop workspace. Powered by desktop microservices, Finsemble delivers a unified user interface and can adapt and scale to perfectly suit any workflow or asset class. It easily integrates into your existing software stack and brings together data from legacy, modern or third-party apps. Request your demo now to get started.

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If you’re interested in learning more about what makes it possible for financial applications to communicate with each other, download The Essential Guide to FDC3.

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Questions to Ask When Building a Smart Desktop
Questions to Ask When Building a Smart Desktop

If you are looking to improve workspace management with a financial smart desktop, ask yourself (or the vendor you may be vetting) these questions before starting your digital transformation project.