Why Web Services Are Strategic

A Web Services Primer for the Customer-Centric Executive

May 2, 2002

Web Services are here to stay. What do you need to know about them? They’re part of an important IT architectural evolution that has strategic implications both for your technology and for your business. Web Services make it easier for you to design your business to adapt quickly and dynamically to changing circumstances. Web Services are also a useful lingua franca in which technologists and businesspeople can communicate and prioritize requirements. Most importantly, you can use Web Services to expose key functions from your operational systems to your customers, distribution channel partners, suppliers and other key stakeholders. While Web Services help ease the burden of enterprise application integration, they are most strategic when used to expose needed functionality to your key customers and stakeholders.


Why are Web Services more than a passing fad? Why should you make a Web Services strategy part of your business strategy? The Web Services wave is a current instantiation of an inevitable IT architectural evolution towards service-oriented architectures. Service-oriented software architectures will give your business more flexibility in responding to and in anticipating customers’ constantly changing needs. They also make it much easier to integrate disparate applications both within and across organizational boundaries. Web Services are the first easy-to-implement and easy-to-understand incarnation of a services-oriented architecture.

From a technology strategy standpoint, you can use Web Services today to prioritize and to rationalize your applications architecture and software infrastructures. If you do it right, you’ll gain increased flexibility and more dynamic adaptability with lower implementation time and costs.

Start from the outside in! From a business strategy standpoint, you should use Web Services first to expose the functionality of your core operational applications to customers, business partners, and suppliers. Next, you should focus on building flexibility into your end-to-end business processes. Then, you should begin to think about how to leverage the software services that represent the core knowledge of your business—Web Services you’ll want to deploy over the next three years.

What are the downsides? Although it’s easy to create Web Services, very few software developers know how to design loosely-coupled architectures. They are used to “hard-wiring” applications together. You’ll want to establish a core team of seasoned architects to lead your Web Services strategy and to educate your internal and external developers.

Here are the questions we’ll answer in this Report:

  1. How will Web Services help make your business more adaptive?
  2. What are Web Services, and what do you need to understand about their characteristics?
  3. How can Web Services bridge the communication gap between business execs and technologists?
  4. How can you use Web Services to address your business requirements?
  5. What are the pitfalls you should know about?
  6. How should you incorporate Web Services into your technology strategy and your business strategy?

Why Are Web Services Useful in Designing Customer-Adaptive Businesses?

It’s important for you to know and to understand what’s beneath the hype of Web Services. Why are Web Services so promising? What problems do they solve? ....


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