Note: this is a guest post written by authors Vladimir Korostyshevskiy and René Holl, PhD.
The Rise of Desktop Superapps
Over the past few years, we embarked on a mission to develop a cutting-edge next-generation trading front end. However, what emerged from our efforts was something far more remarkable: a unified user interface (UI) platform with a common launch point and an app store where different apps, each using distinct UI technologies, seamlessly worked together within the same window frames. These apps were also infused with modern windows management functions, including window grouping and the ability to save and share desktop layouts effortlessly. We used one of the leading FDC3 platform framework providers to do so while also enabling our apps to share information and features using its powerful interoperability capabilities. To give it a unified look and feel, we created our own UI Design System and implemented reusable UI components. This transformed the entire desktop experience into a single, cohesive application. This blend of essential elements resulted in a fusion of app boundaries, where users no longer could tell where one app ended and another began. What we’ve built represents an emerging enterprise design pattern, which we now call a “Desktop Superapp.”
Our initial encounter with the Superapp concept came from Gartner’s research reports on mobile apps, where they defined a “Superapp” as a platform that delivers a collection of mini-apps for personalized and consistent user experiences (see references 1, 2, 3). While Gartner’s focus was on mobile apps, the “Desktop Superapp” integrates various standalone desktop applications into a unified interface so that, to the user, they form a comprehensive all-in-one tool that facilitates and optimizes all of the functionality they need for their workflow.
Exploring the Desktop Superapp: The four pillars
When we talk about a Desktop Superapp, we’re describing a sophisticated software environment that surpasses the capabilities of typical desktop applications. It’s an assembly of separate applications that collectively cater to the unique and demanding requirements of the financial sector.
One might wonder how multiple apps can function as a single Superapp, and this is where the four core pillars of the Desktop Superapp come into play.
Pillar I – UI Ecosystem: The foundation of collaboration
The UI Ecosystem forms the core infrastructure of the Desktop Superapp. It’s a dynamic digital environment that hosts and links a variety of applications, creating a space where apps cooperate and share resources. This environment fosters collaboration and coherence, making it convenient and efficient for users.
Pillar II – Seamless User Experience (UX): Enhancing user interaction
Creating a financial desktop Superapp is a complex task with many details to consider. One of the most critical aspects is ensuring a seamless user experience. This means maintaining a consistent and intuitive interaction across all applications, including design, functionality, and behavior.
Pillar III – Interoperability: Promoting collaboration
In a Desktop Superapp, interoperability plays a crucial role. It allows different applications to communicate and collaborate by sharing data and functionalities, creating a smooth user experience. Achieving high levels of interoperability involves overcoming challenges and adopting technologies and standards like FDC3.
Pillar IV – Governance: Structured framework for sustainability
Building a Desktop Superapp is a complex process that demands a structured governance model. Without proper governance, the Superapp could quickly become a chaotic mix of applications that fail to deliver a seamless user experience. Governance encompasses activities such as smoothly onboarding new applications into the platform, maintaining consistency across applications, managing interoperability, ensuring compliance, and addressing security concerns.
Conclusion: The ongoing journey
This article merely scratches the surface of the Desktop Superapp phenomenon. We intend to provide in-depth insights into each of the four core components in future articles. Our goal is to guide the creation of firmwide platforms that redefine user experiences, enabling users to accomplish more than traditional enterprise systems can offer. The Desktop Superapp is not just a concept; it’s a paradigm shift, and our journey to describe how to unlock and realize its full potential has only just begun.
- Retrieved October 7, 2023. Gartner.com. https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/Superapps
- Wong, J. (2022, September 28). Gartner.com. https://www.gartner.com/en/articles/what-is-a-Superapp
- Wong, J., Leow, A., Shen, S., Motoyoshi, K., Gaughan, D., & Gotta, M. (2022, October 17). Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2023: Superapps. Gartner.com. https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/4020032