2004 Innovators create applications that make a difference locally and globally
While the dot-com boom and bust is now relegated to the dustbin of technological history, Web applications are increasingly allowing business and government to improve service and significantly boost ROI.
Practical uses of XML, Web services, Java and other technologies in the service of practical applications that help businesses, government agencies and the people they serve are key trends emerging from ADT's 2004 Innovator Awards.
Keeping real business goals at the top of the requirements list for applications
is one of the clear trends emerging from this year's innovators. As Ethan McMahon,
environmental information architect at the EPA's Office of Technology, Operations
and Policy, said of his organization's winning entry in Processes & Practices
[see "EPA developing ART
of business modeling"], "business modeling technology is more about business
than technology." That could be said of all the technologies -- both leading-edge
and old-fashioned -- that innovators employed in their projects.
While innovative use of technology is important, several winning entries focused on helping people who were largely ignored by the original dot-com goal of separating trendy yuppies from their discretionary income.
This year's E-business Application Development Innovator award went to an
application developed by The Directorate of Medical Materiel for the Defense
Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP) [see "Medic
app moved fast in rollup to Iraq war"] to speed the delivery of medical
supplies to armed services units.
The Montgomery County Children Services agency won in the Application Management
and Deployment category [see "WebFACTS
lets Ohio county focus on the kids"] for creating a system that helps
child welfare case workers to spend more time with people and less time doing
Fairfax County Public Schools won by creating a Web services application [see
"School's integration team
finds innovation without alienation"] that ingeniously incorporates pre-XML
systems in ways that benefit parents, students and teachers.
This is not to say that practical business goals are not part of innovation in application development trends.
XO Communications won in the Data Warehousing/Business Intelligence category
with a clear-eyed focus on ROI. Among the success stories for the call-detail
data warehouse built by XO Communications [see "XO
Communications warehouse streamlines billing, more"] was an immediate cost
savings when information provided by the new application led to reducing a $6
million invoice to $295,000. That is the kind of achievement that will make
CEOs and CFOs believe in meta data.
XML proves to be the hero for agri-products trading partners in the U.K. who
benefit from the integration of applications from multiple companies at ABNA
Ltd., the winner in the Middleware and Application Integration category. [see
"XML message router improves
logistics for an agri-business"]
In evaluating the ABNA Innovator entry, Innovator Award judges at Keane Inc. cited the firm for "realizing quantitative benefits by sharing logistics information (using XML-based middleware) both internally and externally. ABNA is using middleware to save between 5% and 10% of its costs for a $100 million operation."
While XML was part of its story, innovative use of Java technology, including
the J2EE platform, proved to be key to a global application for LexisNexis online
legal customers globally. The research services company - the winner in the
Tools & Technologies category - [see "LexisNexis
finds one world, one platform"] created a single platform that helps business
units avoid duplicating development work, and makes it easier for users to access
Keane praised LexisNexis for "the overall scope of its J2EE enterprise implementation representing a practical implementation of cutting-edge technology."
With economic and other geopolitical struggles making 2003 a difficult environment, ADT's Innovator Awards show that developers continue to make today's practical applications out of yesterday's theoretical concepts.
Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.