The e-forms give access to back-end data such as inventory figures, customer data and pricing information and present it in a consistent interface.
Thats critical to industries such as insurance, government, banking and health care.
Its also an area on which IBM competitor and partner Adobe Systems Inc. has a solid lock—and where it has plenty of ambition.
Adobe traditionally hasnt been thought of as an enterprise software company.
That has changed, however, with the rollout of the companys LiveCycle technology.
Adobe has positioned itself nicely, analysts say, in that the API hooks were already within the PDF format.
Thus, Adobe workflows are already positioned to become more programmatic—a nice place to be, since government organizations including the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Defense are mandating PDFs as a display mechanism.
To play in this market, IBM already has the back end tied up. What it plans for the front end, to make Workplace Forms a player alongside PDF, is support for XForms, an emerging industry standard for electronic form documents.