TECH TALK: 2003-04: Web Services, Social Networking

8. Web Services

The hype surrounding web services is slowly turning to real-world solutions. The buzzwords in 2003 – service-oriented architectures (SOA) and business process management (BPM). Writes Phil Wainewright: At the same time as building up a service oriented architecture, enterprises need to equip business managers to take charge of processes from the top down.

A quote by IBM’s Bob Sutor explains SOA: In an SOA world, business tasks are accomplished by executing a series of ‘services,’ jobs that have well defined ways of talking to them and well-defined ways in which they talk back. It doesn’t really matter how a particular service is implemented, as long as it responds in the expected way to your commands and offers the quality of service you require. This means that the service must be appropriately secure and reliable as well as fast enough. This makes SOA a near ideal technology to use in an IT environment where software and hardware from multiple vendors is deployed.

What has also become clear in 2003 is that to accomplish the next leap in productivity, organizations have to rethink their business processes, which is where the emerging area of BPM comes in. Web service providers the tools to bring about this transformation.

2004: The Web services revolution will continue. The software development which began at the edge of the enterprise will reach within and extend outside to the larger ecosystem that organisations do business in. A service to watch is Sforce by Salesforce.

9. Social Networking

Venture capitalists found their calling in the last quarter of 2003 in social networking sites. Whether this is a bubble or a disruptive innovation, only time call. But for now, sites like Friendster, LinkedIn, Tickle, Spoke, Ryze and are part of the new connectivity revolution. This time, it is about networking people. Be it dating, jobs, business contacts or sales relationships management, social networking at least for the moment seem to have a solution for everything.

Wrote the New York Times recently: Some of the fledgling social-network companies may indeed mature into powerful business hubs like eBay or Amazon. Yet the more intriguing prospect, from a sociological standpoint, anyway, is whether these applications will actually transform our lives. Ever since the publication of Bowling Alone, we’ve been flooded with even more data about the end of community and lamentations for its return. At least in theory, a readily accessible social network would enable more of us to bond with people we regard as far less anonymous than strangers. The larger possibility, that plugging into our social networks might somehow remedy a profound national loneliness, is even more enticing.

2004: The coming year will be the true test of whether the social networking sites can build up a truly profitable and sustaining business. The leading sites are now well endowed with capital, so they will now need to show that it is possible to transform the six degrees of separation into something more than just network theory. 2004 will also the social networking ideas applied to many other verticals, and online reputation will plan an increasingly important role in our professional and business lives.

Tomorrow: Blogs and RSS, India in 2003

TECH TALK 2003-04+T

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.