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As everyone knows, things are getting more connected, not less. Over the past few years, both large and small companies have continued to struggle with integration projects and the need to integrate disparate data sources, applications, and business processes.

Businesses need IT solutions that can responding rapidly to new changes in the market – for example, enabling the rapid introduction of new products or services that differ from an organization’s previous product set, or a combination of services that enables competitive advantage. A good example of this from a few years back is MCI’s “Friends and Family” campaign that got telephone subscribers to switch to MCI by promising free phone calls to other MCI subscribers. It turned out to be a business bonanza for MCI—not only because they signed up thousands of new customers, but because its competitors—other major telephone companies—simply didn’t have the flexibility or agility in their billing and accounting programs to create (in a timely manner) a competitive offering. Call it “business process as a competitive weapon,” if you will. But regardless of what you call it, it’s an important trend that business organizations need their IT departments to enable.

But, of course, organizations have a range of other business concerns they are focused on. For example, even with a relatively good economy, organizations continue to look for ways to reduce costs and increase profits. As I noted above, more and more business managers are also looking for ways to respond quickly, with agility and flexibility to market demands. And a more recent development has been a real focus (even at the business level) on defining, managing and optimizing business processes across business and geographic boundaries.

At the same time that these business pressures are occurring, IT groups are trying to address complimentary challenges. In order to keep up with the new requirements for business flexibility and agility, organizations are modernizing legacy systems—wrapping them with new functionality or replacing them with new services or application components. Many IT organizations have turned to composite application development approaches to help built applications composed of logic from multiple sources. Key objectives for IT groups that I’ve talked with recently include such goals as reducing IT costs, enabling more rapid development and modification of IT applications and enabling rapid and standards-base integration of disparate systems and business logic.


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