Web Services Reality

[via Jeff Nolan] HBS Working Knowledge has an interview with HBS associate professor Andrew P. McAfee. Excerpts:

Web services technologies work equally well within and between companies. Cross-company implementations, however, are still comparatively rare. We see them between large and technically sophisticated organizations who have longstanding ties, and we’re also starting to see them between big companies and their smaller suppliers.

Big companies have the power to convince or compel their partners to participate, and to shortcut negotiations by simply dictating terms. Amazon and eBay have both done brilliant work with Web services to open up their IT infrastructures and let thousands of small sellers plug into them, but it’s a “take it or leave it” proposition. Amazon and eBay don’t renegotiate Web services standards with each seller; they simply publish their standards and wait for other companies to adopt them.

So far Web services are being used to automate simple business processestransmitting an order, acknowledging a shipment, describing an item for sale, etc. Over time the processes enabled via Web services will become more complex, but it’s best to start small and build incrementally.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.