It's possible that your IT department supports users who work with six or more applications at a time on their desktops, causing what OpenSpan CEO Francis Carden calls, "the current desktop conundrum." OpenSpan is working to solve this conundrum: that many users interact manually with multiple applications running in separate silos on the desktop. As an example, Carden cites a financial services call center where a user might have to work within seven different applications just to complete the single action of canceling a customer's credit card. For such situations, copy and paste has been the integration strategy of most companies. But, as Carden and his OpenSpan colleagues assert, there is a better way.

Their solution—go at it from the desktop. OpenSpan is the only company as far as Carden knows that's tackling the job of integrating apps from the desktop. OpenSpan's solution, OpenSpan Platform, consists of technology that inserts itself into the application, offering the ability to integrate desktop applications, including legacy applications, with server-side applications, Web applications, and Web services. Automation and integration can be done without access to the underlying source code. In addition, besides offering the ability to control automating an app, it offers control over what a user does with an app.

With the release on December 4 of OpenSpan Platform 3.2, OpenSpan introduces the ability to work in the world of application virtualization. This is a crucial addition, Carden says: "When you deliver an app via virtualization, it's even more siloed \[than a non-virtualized app\]." The product supports Citrix, and the company will be adding support for additional virtualized environments in the future. OpenSpan also added support for Microsoft Office 2007. Now if users are running a customer relationship management (CRM) app in a virtual environment and an Office app that's not virtualized, both apps can integrate with each other. Another addition to OpenSpan Platform 3.2 is the ability to automate workflows. Carden explains: "When something in the workflow changes, you could have six or seven integration points. You can set a flag to keep track of all the processes—you can literally see them working."

Another new feature is Web Grid Automation support. Most apps when they get to the Web have large amounts of data tables and getting at that data is incumbent on how it was written, Carden says. Web Grid Automation lets you turn a Web table into a data set. For example, you can point at a Web page of patient data and set rules and access data.

OpenSpan customers include telecom contact centers, insurance companies, financial services companies, and the government—organizations that typically employ many users who manually interact with five, seven, even ten applications on the desktop, many of them legacy applications.

OpenSpan's solution cuts back on training costs, reduces costly user errors, and can shorten the handling time of calls in call centers, Carden says. The company is partnering with call-center-management software provider Aspect Software, which uses Open Span to help both large and small companies manage their call centers.