April 21, 2004

Integrating On Line

Phil Wainewright predicts the end of SAP. He says:

Web services constitute the first threat, or more properly, the ability to assemble applications by linking together separate elements of software functionality using SOA. The article quotes Shai Agassi discussing NetWeaver as SAP's future salvation, but it's just as likely to become its nemesis: "Because NetWeaver is open," points out analyst Joshua Greenbaum, "there is no customer lock-in at all."

Software rental, as practised by the likes of salesforce.com, is billed as the other threat, although the term is a misnomer. If it were simply about changing the way customers pay for their software, SAP would have nothing to worry about at all. The true nature of the threat from online software providers is that what they rent out is not the software itself, but the functionality that it provides: they put business automation on tap. This goes to the heart of SAP's greatest vulnerability, identified in the article: "its customers' longstanding complaint: that SAP's software is difficult to upgrade and modify quickly."

My question is: If a business (or a person) uses multiple on-line services, how can they be integrated? For example, if a business uses CRM-Online and HRM-Online (these are made-up names, my apologies if someone is using them), it might have a business rule that says: When I fire a salesman in HRM-Online, I have to reassign his clients in CRM-Online. How does he do this?

Before you say, "Web Services" think of this: That would mean that the business would have to maintain its own IT department, along with computers, software, etc. Depending on whom you ask, integration is anywhere between 40% to 60% of IT costs. So how much are you gaining in the end? Yes, it is something. But what you really want is to have no in-house IT. You want to be able to integrate all your on-line services as if they were on your own computer, but without the headache of them actually being there.

I have the solution to this problem. I'm working to make it real right now.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at April 21, 2004 10:57 AM
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