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Thursday 23 July 2009

Enterprise mashups – kick-starting adoption

Recent blogs from the worlds of enterprise mashups and CRM have reinforced my impression that a lot of people are struggling with the dilemma of how to move to the flexible IT and business architectures they know they need for future success when the investment environment is focused on short term returns.

A posting by Susan Bouchard at Cisco kicked off a discussion that led to Stefan Andreasen from Kapow asking (in respect of mashups)
Companies traditionally only purchase IT products as part of building a dedicated business application with a defined ROI and timeline.
So the big question is how to resolve this?`
It seems identical to the "Long tail economy", selling many low-price items. It makes no economic sense before you start selling a lot, but then it's hugely profitable.
It's the same with mashups, but how do we get over that initial barrier?

Meanwhile, Colin Beasty, blogging on CRM Outsiders wrote
… whenever you add new channels to a CRM process you add complexities, and it seems businesses are struggling with fostering and tying all these new channels into that seamless experience that the customer can pick up on. I think the contact center industry in general is trending towards the delivery of these channels in a more service-oriented approach.
Breaking down the silos has always been and will continue to remain a key driver of industry software and best practices. Web services, standards-based software, and open source seems to be taking the lead in tackling a lot of these issues, but on the flipside the economy isn’t leaving businesses with a whole lot of cash to pursue these interests.
For the short term future, I think businesses remain in a Catch-22 situation: the economy demands that customer retention and experience is a priority…and thus consolidating these channels into a single experience…while lack of revenue and profits doesn’t leave the financial vehicle by which to accomplish these goals

It seems to me that this pair of postings ask questions that a lot of people are thinking about at the moment. They also illustrate the challenge and the opportunity for enterprise mashups. On the one hand, when enterprise mashups are simply seen as addressing long tail “micro-requirements”, many of which need satisfying to justify investment in a mashup infrastructure, the business case “initial barrier” is a real one. On the other hand, there are many requirements for process based integration for end users – such as combining allowing agents to work across multiple channels in the contact centre – that are further up the long tail – slightly more complex, still out of reach economically from traditional SOA and application integration but offering much more substantial payback. The trick is to bring the two together – using mashups to build process-based applications for users one at a time, with each generating payback quickly, and creating lightweight reusable services (“mashables”) as a result. That way the need to minimize cash outlay is achieved, operational improvements are delivered and the organization is left with a flexible, service based approach to build on further.

For some people who have only seen mashups as simple “dashboard” type applications, this requires a broadening of how they think of mashup technology. However, we are seeing that this approach is essential to resolving the dilemma faced by apparently contradictory short and long term pressures.

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