From an interview with Craig Conway, CEO of PeopleSoft, in Fortune: “Even in this down economy companies are continuing to build what we call a real-time enterprise–putting all their processes online in an integrated way. For example, a product company starts with lead generation, marketing, and sales. Then you enter an order, get it to inventory, ship it, update accounts receivable, get out an invoice, collect payment, and finally support the customer. Each of those processes is traditionally thought of as a different software application. Lead generation, marketing, and customer service are CRM [Customer Relationship Management]. Order entry, shipping, and inventory are Supply Chain Management. Invoicing and collections are Financial. But now companies are making all those processes accessible through a Web portal, so you can move between applications in a nonlinear manner.”
The key lies in integration. Instead of thinking of applications as vertically integrated silos (with their own storage, business logic and UI), we can now think of a new architecture where the database becomes a common XML store across applications, the business logic is encapsulated in web services, and the UI becomes the digital dashboard.