Thinking Ahead

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-06-07 Print this article Print

Quite honestly I dont think the memo was particularly insightful; its just stating what I heard in the last year from customers and saying if were going to add value … if youre BEA, in my book, you have to figure out how to add value where the other guys youre competing with dont. And last time that was building .Net for J2EE and figuring out how to bring 5 million developers into the fold—which were still finishing. And were thinking about how to bring 50 million developers into the fold, including business users. And thats a long-term agenda. And what I hear clearly from our customers is thats what they want. So, for example, theres a company and theyve got portal servers and they have portals in London, portals in New York, portals in Hong Kong, and the portals are different. They assume where you are you can buy real estate in Hong Kong; you can buy stocks in London; and other things in New York. But theyre also different based on what age group and demographic and on what you say you want to do. And they want obviously to cross-sell as much of the stuff theyve got as possible. And they want to constantly test this where they modify how the site reacts to who you are and what youve said and what youre doing. And then see how much more that effectively cross-sells or didnt cross-sell the product.
Well, they cant really do that right now because theres such a reduction. They want to be more like Excel. Some smart business guys come along and test some changes and see how it works, and test some more and see how it works and just iteratively hone in on the most effective Web site, and then over time that might change. And then to do that you have to change what it means to build a portal—something thats much, much more how the portal works.
We get the same issue with workflow. People love the demo we did today, but then they run into the case where they want to change the rules dynamically in more profound ways than that demo made comfortable. For example, you know theyre discovering that theres a step not being covered in registering goods, or they now want to be able to handle for certain classes of customers if theyre overseas or whatever. And they want to be able to dynamically commute and modify, but they dont want to bring the system down. Well, they cant do that today. Typically when you go in and modify code you bring the system down, even if its just briefly. And whats more, its code. And any change in the code you worry that youve broken the system. So theres a lot of testing that gets done. Next page: The Business User.

Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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