There are several upcoming technologies that will have much impact to the enterprise applications like SOA, Web 2.0, etc. Various pundits have already touted the technical advantage of all these technologies. To prove the point, every major software vendor today, has a SOA strategy. So how does all this cool technology will help businesses whose only job is to manufacture, sell and service some simple widgets and not necessarily care about what technology they uses. Infect, they probably don’t care whether it is Web 2.0, SOA or some RPG/Cobol on a green screen terminal.
Business deploying enterprise software (ERP, Supply Chain, CRM, HRMS, etc.) uses technology as a business enabler to help them manufacture the widget cheaper/better/faster or service its customer better, etc. Successful companies proud themselves on their business processes making them unique and differentiating them in their respective market. Technology wow factor is usually not the front runner. Much of enterprise businesses remains slow on the technology adoption curve. At best, it may either be classified as “Early majority” or “Late majority” if not outright “laggard” trying to avoid “Innovator” or “Early adopter” technology adoption curve.
So how would all the upcoming technologies help existing business processes of a company? To do that let’s look at the key components of what makes a business process and understand how these upcoming technologies can be applied to make aspects of business process better. One can certainly add or refine the list here.
- Information – Information is critical to any individual executing a business process successfully. As technology continue it improves it is providing new benefits that were not available before like –
- Reliable information that provide deeper visibility into what goes on in a business
- Real time information when you want it, where you want it
- Information from relationships – multiple degrees apart and from extended sources like partners, suppliers, outsourcers, employees, market places, etc.
- Information from unstructured sources – capturing knowledge, increase integration with email, files systems, document management systems, etc.
- Vastly improved searches for mining the sea of information and analytical tools to come to deliver what you want and understand Patterns, Metrics, goals, etc.
- Tasks – This has been the frontier as industry has been busy automating much of the human tasks aggressively since more than a decade or so. Also, as existing tasks gets automated – new set of human coordination tasks or extended responsibility appears in the horizon. Some benefits from new technologies here are:-
- Extending/changing existing tasks without writing code – STANDARDS is the way to go
- Easy creation of new tasks as new processes comes to life
- Enabling work-flows easier between automated tasks and human tasks
- Quick alignment/training of the team to ever changing processes regardless of location of employees
- Enables getting tasks done cost effectively without sacrificing quality or customer satisfaction goals
- Enables ramping up new people easily and help extend enterprise frontier to newer geographies
- Interaction – A business is net sum of its people accomplishing their individual tasks and interacting with each other. This is their everyday interaction as they formulate, strategize, decide, work, act with each other to take company ahead one day at a time. Much is based on the foundation of real time visibility, availability and ability to engage everyone needed in a dialogue. Huge benefits from new technologies in this space:-
- Collapsing invisible walls that were between the parties/individuals as relationship maps become visible
- Continue to make world a small place to live, connect and make interaction real within it larger ecosystem
- Assess and establish new relationships quickly – expand ecosystem and extend reach
- Increased participation of many in decision making as several new communication channels reaching out to all becomes available – enabling the system to operate on power of many
- Capture, track and publish knowledge at determined time to feed into everyday work
- Speed up information sharing, decision making and rollout to the ecosystem
- Speed up feedback from market on decisions and place effective measure to correct
To sum it up upcoming technologies holds the promise of providing new kind of business processes not possible today or refining existing business processes that can help a company to remain differentiated and successful.
Just as an example – think today we enter more trades every day (couple of billions everyday on NYSE these days) than what we used to do in a week couple of decades (couple of million everyday on NYSE in early 70’s) back. All of this due to technology improvement that leverages the same process of placing, reconciling the trade, clearing the trade, settling the trade, invoicing, paying for the trade, etc. But now these tasks are automated, collapsed various walls that were needed in the past to place a trade, and provide real time information to a trader. New processes have evolved around technologies like real time information, increase self service, automatic trade placement, portfolio analysis, etc… that is changing the scale of business.
There are many examples how leveraging the right technology can help things scale quickly that is otherwise not possible. It is this promise with upcoming technologies like SOA, Web 2.0, etc. for businesses allowing them to unleash new level of accomplishment across its social communities – makes enterprise applications an interesting space for years to come.