Looking Ahead: Application Integration Set To Make It Big

New Delhi: | Updated: May 19 2003, 05:30am hrs
Last year when consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) brought out its technology forecast for 2002-2004, the focus was on innovation in every sphere of life, be it home or workplace.

The forecast said: With the gold rush over, the IT industry is going back to work and refocusing on building the tools and infrastructure needed to push e-business further into every facet of business activity and everyday life.

Talking about how technology impacts everyday life, PwC executive director Joydeep Datta Gupta said: The Technology Forecast 2002-2004 provides, apart from other technology trends, an in-depth look at Internet computing, including some compelling visions in this area such as grid computing, computing as a utility, IP dial tone and pervasive computing. All this will directly impact everyday life, Mr Datta Gupta explained.

A year later, PwC has come out with yet another tech forecast, this time for 2003-2005. And it is talking more about information management and enabling software, than anything else. In this context, collaboration and collaborative technologies emerge as the key words, even when we are talking about everyday life.

Consider what General Motors Information Systems and Services chief technology officer (CTO) Tony Scott has to say, with reference to the 2003-2005 forecast.

I dont think the software industry is sustainable as it is, without some greater movement towards self-configuration, self-tuning, like the autonomic computing initiatives. Interestingly, he says: Now, instead of people waiting around for computers, I am seeing a lot more of the reverse, which is computers waiting for people to make decisions.

So, the next big opportunity would lie in helping people speed up their decision-making. This is computer-assisted, but it is beyond what we typically think of as decision support: it includes decision automation, it includes workflow, it includes collaboration, it includes getting people to be more efficient at the things they personally do in a large organisation, he adds.

As a result, I see collaborative sciences, collaborative technologies, and new networking technologies such as wireless as the next big field of opportunity, says Mr Scott.

On the other hand, Technology Forecast 2002-2004, deals with sophistication of application functionality and software technologies, which are expected to chart the future course of enterprise software.

The addition of inter-enterprise capabilities has been a major factor in influencing the development of corporate applications during the past few years.

And the future will see increasing sophistication of these capabilities as vendors release their next generation of e-business enabled applications, leading to significant changes in the software industry, PwC says.

According to the Technology Forecast, certain identifiable trends carried over from the dot-com boom will lend a sense of direction to an industry marked by creativity and innovation. Technology Forecast explores the ongoing emphasis on inter-enterprise capabilities and other functional enhancement trends influencing the development of enterprise applications, including analytical capabilities, collaboration, mobility, portals, real-time computing, and usability.

Also, it explores the ongoing evolution of enabling software technologies, and provides predictions for three software architectures used to satisfy the technical requirements of enterprise applicationsapplication integration, componentisation, and web services.

The editor-in-chief of the Forecast and managing director at PwC Global Technology Center Eric Berg said: Possibly the greatest technical challenge facing most large organisations today in their use of information technology is application integration. Many enterprises now areor soon will bein the midst of a transition from a software architecture based on the use of EAI middleware to connect packaged application suites to one in which applications are divided into smaller components that are much easier to integrate.

However, the realisation of the web services vision will be unlikely during the three-year forecast period, particularly because the concept assumes that companies will be willing to do business with new and unfamiliar business partners. Instead, web services are more likely to be used during the forecast period for integration between trusted business partners, and for integrating applications within an enterprise.