Web Services and Business Processes

From InfoWorld:

“The business process is becoming the new unit of work,” said Charles Fitzgerald, Microsoft’s general manager of platform strategies, pointing to the forthcoming BPEL4WS, a programming language that can be used to describe business processes, as one example.

He added that using Web services for integration opens up new possibilities not typically associated with more expensive integration projects.

“If we have a mechanism to get different systems to talk to each other, we can start to think about the business processes,” he said.

He continued that Web services projects thus far fit into two groups. The first is people integrating with partners; the second is companies using Web services to streamline business processes.

An interesting comment on this comes from Rahul Dave on John Robb’s blog post:

Whats forgotten in the whole business-process-as-a-unit argument is that business processes are human processes like other things, and employees and managers need to tweak them, and play with them, not have some developer write it once and forget.

And you dont make process writing a normal user skill by selling web services to business. You sell it on the desktop, in the way you provide for routing messages and aggregation. In other words you do it by bringing scripting closer to the average user, through templates or super simple scripting languages (even usertalk and python are too hard.., but on the right track, usertalk more so with frontier-db, and python less so with ZODB.

I like the idea of providing users greater control with scripting languages which give them the ability to decide what they see. In fact, imagine a digital dashboard comprised of RSS feeds which bring in blog posts and enterprise events into view in a sort-of “Events Horizon”, filters (in a scripting language, like what Rahul talks of) that work as event processors/routers, an information visualisation tool like Smart Money’s Market Map which allows users to converse with information. This can be a wonderful productivity enhancer.

The problem faced by people and enterprises developed markets is too much information. The problem faced by their counterparts in the emerging markets is too little information. But the advantage that the latter group has is that it is devoid of legacy. Its weakness can actually be seen as a strength in that it enables the creation of innovation software revolutions that can enable a technological leapfrog.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.