Microsoft .NET: A Foundation for Connected Business
Extract from Aberdeen Executive White Paper
Author: Aberdeen Group
Author: Aberdeen Group
Today’s business has an almost overwhelming choice of technology tools to choose from — probably more than at any other time in the history of enterprise. Affordable computer systems and easy-to-use applications automate many of the procedural and complex tasks associated with running a business, while Webbased sources of content, data, services, and global e-mail communications are widely available to help enterprises exchange ideas and interact with customers and suppliers as never before.
The medium enterprise segment comprises companies with 500 to 8,000 employees and with revenue of $50 million to $800 million annually. This segment also includes divisions of enterprise-size organizations that operate relatively autonomously and that are empowered to make their own technology and business application decisions. This segment is a critical market for technology suppliers — one that needs to be approached with the right combination of product, price, and functionality. The people managing these organizations are nothing if not pragmatic, and they demand
technology that is able to adopt to rapidly changing business requirements and that adds real value to their day-to-day business activities.
The revolution in technology and business organization has affected both the large enterprise and the medium enterprise business, but the benefit to the latter segment has been especially significant. While some of the technology needs of this key market have already been adequately addressed, other products and technologies continue to emerge and are adopted into more widespread, mainstream usage as they prove their value. Accounting and financial management application packages, for example, are widely used and enable the medium enterprise to manage the financial and operational aspects of their business on par with their enterprise counterparts. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications have also made their way into this market and are beginning to bring critical functionality to the medium enterprise. Like accounting and business management software, CRM applications hold the promise of being able to do more with less: to use computing and information as a tool to manage better, sell more, and leverage information — wherever it is located — to optimize efficiencies and maximize profits.
The Internet and Web-based technologies have proven to be especially valuable resources for the medium enterprise. They have given this type of company the virtual reach of larger ones, helping to bring new customers into their grasp and opening up new, global opportunities to companies that previously had only a local presence. To one extent, the Internet has fulfilled its promise: Global communications is now assumed as a given, and a company’s Web site in North Dakota may be visited by potential customers or partners as far away as New Hampshire or Nepal. At the same time, the Internet has not turned out to be the cure-all or panacea that some thought it would be. The integration of Web-based, e-Business unctionality into mainstream desktop business management applications has been more challenging than many companies anticipated, and most of the Internet usage has focused on fairly simplistic applications such as e-mail and Web sites.
The Internet — at least as it is commonly used in mainstream business today — is simply one of the building blocks being put into place as businesses build a real foundation for agile, effective, and global business applications. To leverage the true power and presence of the Internet, a more robust, intelligent, and easily integrated architecture is needed, one that has been designed around the use of the Internet almost as an extension of the operating system and the business application. An Internet application architecture is needed under which hundreds of Web-based sources of information, applications, and data — Web services — will be available in a common format and will be supported as a set of tightly integrated functionality across business applications. To build on this foundation, a vision needs to be put in place that will enable broadly dispersed, but widely available, services across the Web for both applications and for people, i.e., for real users. Perhaps most important, these services have to provide tangible, measurable value. They will do this by being available, by being usable, and by being useful.
Microsoft announced an initiative designed to integrate the Internet and Webbased applications — what Microsoft defines as XML (eXtensible Markup Language) Web services — into mainstream business usage. This initiative is called .NET, software that connects information, people, systems, and devices. It is nothing less than a new approach to business computing and, if successful, will change the way medium enterprises use computing and Internet technologies to run their businesses.
This Aberdeen Executive White Paper describes, in non-technical terms, what .NET is and how it fits with other technologies in use by both the midsize business user and the enterprise. It also describes the .NET vision by illustrating how .NETconnected applications and services can be used to augment existing business applications and processes and provides several tangible examples of how .NETconnected applications are, or will be, taking shape. If Microsoft is successful in promoting its vision of .NET and XML Web services, .NET will become a foundation for building agile, effective, Internet-centric business applications.
The full whitepaper is available from: Greatplains Downloads