2003: Year of B2B Web services?
The current ''tough economy'' will spur greater deployment of Web services for
integration inside and outside the firewall, moves that will lead to a revival
of much-maligned B2B efforts, predicts Jeff Tonkel in his first week as
president and CEO of Infravio Inc.
Prior to accepting his new position this week with the Redwood City,
Calif.-based provider of Web services management software and consulting
services, Tonkel said he researched the marketplace to see where the
After talking to IT executives of Fortune 500 companies, he concluded: ''It's
going to be a big year for Web services.''
It was no surprise that he found Web services for internal application
integration to be ''the number one or number two priority in IT shops.'' But he
also found what he believes is the beginning of real implementation of Web
services to connect companies to their suppliers at one end and their customers
at the other.
''Any company today is in the middle,'' Tonkel explained. ''Most companies of
any size have numerous suppliers, and most companies of any size are a supplier
to somebody else. So you have this requirement to communicate with your
suppliers and you have your requirement to communicate with your customers.''
Noting that most large companies also have a need to integrate internal
systems, he breaks Web services projects into three categories, all of which he
believes will advance this year. ''There's three classes of integration,'' Tonkel
explained. ''There's the integration with your suppliers. There's the integration
with your customers. And there's the integration within your enterprise.''
Far from inhibiting these projects, the tough business economy is actually
pushing them to the top of the IT priority list for 2003, he said, because all
three categories promise increased productivity and decreased costs.
''It wouldn't be one of the top one or two priorities for IT if they didn't
believe there was huge ROI,'' Tonkel said.
It has always been clear to business executives that they could save money by
reducing swivel-chair steps -- faxing, telephoning, overnight mailing -- in a
transaction, he said. But it was not that easy to automate those processes until
the innovation of Web services technology, which Tonkel believes has matured to
the point that it can make B2B work.
''There's one company we're working with now that wants to integrate with
their customers,'' he explained. ''They want to be able to provide the B2B stuff
that didn't evolve in the way that the market thought it was going to with the
timing the market thought was going to happen. But there's huge demand for this
kind of B2B integration. And Web services is very appropriate for that.''
In this still early stage of Web services adoption, Tonkel said, he does not
expect Fortune 500 companies to all start major B2B integration projects.
''They're going to all start out small, but it's going to work,'' he predicted.
''It will evolve over time into larger and larger projects, much more service
integration than what we've ever imagined.''
For more information on Infravio, click on http://www.Infravio.com/.
Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.