Web Services -- No Slam Dunk
Confronting the Reality of Web ServicesFrom the May 16 edition of Working Knowledge, Web services have made huge strides, but two hurdles remain, one technical, the other organizational, says HBS professor Andrew P. McAfee. "It is in fact getting easier to integrate applications, but it's never going to be easy."
The technical problem is that any two applications are virtually guaranteed to contain dissimilar data and execute dissimilar business processes. There is no magic bullet in the Web services toolkit that does this automatically or quickly.What's the bottom line, professor?
The organizational challenge comes as all stakeholders get together and hammer out common definitions.
All the parties I talked to felt that productivity had increased, but they talked about the work more as capability development than benefits realization. They were learning how to "speak Web services," and were confident that they would have many opportunities to use their new language skills.Reading articles like this rattle my cage. I believe in a web services future, but it's tough to argue with the fact that probably half of all ERP implementations and three-quarters of CRM installs fail to deliver the goods. Enterprise software will never run like clockwork, but can it be the Rosetta Stone of network commerce?