Let Users Control Data and Processes

Phil Wainewright writes:

One of the myths about ASPs has always been that they’ll fail because people won’t want to entrust their data to a third party. This has always been an absurd myth — by the same logic, businesses should keep all their cash on-site rather than having banks manage it, which of course would be ridiculous. But the focus on data has always been missing the point anyway. It’s not the data itself, it’s what you do with it that matters. Process is the thing that businesses don’t want to have third parties in control of. And the irony of course is that traditional software is suffering a backlash precisely because it forces companies to yield up control of their process automation to software vendors and their systems integrator collaborators.

What Jon pointed out was that the latest generation of online web services providers are leaving users in control of both data and process. We’re talking about software providers that don’t even need you to give you their data. They simply add process to it by interacting with it, and if users decide to discontinue those processes, they simply withdraw their interaction.

This a great example of how far out of the box people are going to have to think to really take advantage of service-oriented architectures. As Jon points out, even a leading light of the online services revolution like Amazon hasn’t fully got it, because it still tries to own user reviews rather than simply linking to them in some kind of value-added aggregation or syndication model.

Greg Gianforte, the CEO of CRM provider RightNow Technologies, likes to say that we’re just at the beginning of several decades of exploitation of the software services model. Jon Udell’s examples of next-generation infoware are a great illustration of just how far we still have to travel.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.