A Track that Can

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-04-07 Print this article Print

Move"> Factoring in the IT doesnt matter discussion—commoditizing and eliminating the differentiation between technology solutions, leveling the playing field—what are you going to provide by building on top of the xApps architecture —
The Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA)
—To give individual companies yet another competitive advantage on top of this new architecture? In IT doesnt matter, there was a comparison between the IT and the railroad business, where we got into the Gold Rush of railroads and overbuilt infrastructure. At some point you didnt need any more tracks, and the railroad business disappeared. The one thing they forgot to mention is that the IT business—especially an enterprise-applications business—reflects the business processes and the best practices in the business. And those keep changing all the while. Its as if you have a train, but it takes a different route every year or so. Thats the big shift that is happening. We have to assume that the business will change every year, two years, three years, and we have to build a track that knows how to move itself. Were in the transportation business. The first thing we said is, Give me a platform where I can build things—and reconnect them on the fly—as I go through my new strategy, my new plan. Second, we went to the applications guys and said, Service-enable your pieces so I can actually connect them easier. I dont need to service-enable every time, I want you to do it once. And yes, I know its hard and I know its expensive, but youve got 20,000 customers who are paying for it through their maintenance. And then we said, What can I innovate as a result of that, what can we build new that we couldnt do before, which kind of processes can we do? Theres a whole family of end users and roles in the business that are almost ignored. And were targeting them now with this innovation. We looked at the guys who did the repeatable, mundane, transactional business on a day-to-day basis, the guy who puts the data in financials into the GL [General Ledger], the girl who puts the accounts receivable into the accounts payables. What about the strategic knowledge workers in financials? The guys who do analysis of which companies to buy? The Mergers and Acquisitions module. Right, the post-merger integration. We dealt with the guy who puts the build material into the PLM [Product Life-cycle Management] product. What about the guy who deals with what the innovation looks like? The guys who invent the next product? The guys we dealt with were the $30,000, $50,000 a year employees. And we helped them become 10, 20 percent more efficient, which is how we are seeing today companies grow their revenue without adding more head count. So, youre responsible for the jobless recovery. Part of the problem is that the recovery weve seen so far is an efficiency recovery. Youll see another wave of recovery coming from innovation and growth. Given this packaged middleware layer … We call them packaged horizontal scenarios. Instead of process scenarios, these are horizontal scenarios—sharing information, making decisions, managing master data across the enterprise. Say youve got two companies [or supply chains] adopting this technology. Again, how do you provide differentiation, competitive advantage, between those two? At the end of the day, we can build hundreds of new processes that we couldnt do before, leveraging the intellectual property that we have in the services modules and underlying components. Does that mean you sales-rep the xApps? Either coming as xApps or coming as industry solutions or coming as horizontal solutions. Were doing an xApp for product innovation—the management of the pipeline of ideas in the company. Almost like youre managing opportunities in sales—managing the pipeline of ideas all the way from the first incarnation of the idea all the way out to the shipping of the product and launching it into the market. Managing the life cycle of projects and allocation of skills into the project—research, program management, managing your portfolio—are key things that apply to every single company in the world. Next page: Proactive business event network tackles time management.

Steve Gillmor is editor of eWEEK.com'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.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel