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iRise Provides Visualization Software for Business Student Lab

By Lindsey Anderson

The words disk, input, and output flashed across the classroom screen.

Matt Smith, senior manager of enterprise solutions at iRise, a visualization software provider, showed the students some system specifications and asked: "What do you think this is?"

"A computer?" Guessed a student.

Wrong. And then Mr. Smith showed the visual representation of a toilet.

"You don't know what you have until you see it," Smith said. He went on to explain the floppy disk is the toilet seat, the toilet bowl is the input, and so forth.

Smith's example was intended to illustrate the gap between what clients envision and what they actually get, a common problem when developing applications and websites solely based on static representations of the final product.

With iRise's visualization software, developers can ditch binders stuffed with screenshots and instead let clients test-drive fully workable applications and websites without coding. Developers at iRise simply use their program to drag, drop, and link components to create applications for clients such as General Motors, UPS, and Merrill Lynch.

Smith and Charles Sword of iRise spoke to Associate Professor Alberto Espinosa's ITEC-455 "Business Process and Requirements Analysis" class April 5. After an introduction and demonstration, the students were trained on iRise's visualization software. This is the second time iRise has been to campus; representatives visited in November to hold training for MBA students.

In February, iRise announced that it would renew the supply of its software licenses, free of charge, to Kogod's Financial Services and Information Technology Lab for student use.

When creating a web application or other business system, companies generate screenshots and complex coding, which leave a lot of assumptions and don't elicit feedback, Smith said. As a result, clients aren't entirely sure what they're getting, and software companies aren't entirely sure what the client wants.

“It's impossible for businesses to really know what's going to be delivered to users based on a use case model,” Smith said.

The "drag and drop" system also allows developers to instantly make changes to an application without poring through code, facilitating quicker turnaround and a custom end product.

"It's all about decreasing the time to gather, understand, analyze, and communicate business requirements for system implementations, thus bettering the partnership between business and IT," Smith said.