With a growing amount of applications that support open standards on one hand and web services on the other hand, mashups become more popular every day. Have a look at Google Maps, provided by Google. Developers re-use this application to realize their own ideas. One example: you can find the nearest cash machine with hotspots on a Google Map. A mashup of Google Maps functionality together with location information on cash machines.
And now the next wave of mashups has started, as they are brought into your company, not as gadget or nice to have internet application, but as a real application that is required to run your business process. In the professional world these mashups are called composite applications.
With composite applications you can create flexible and innovative applications for your business process. Is that something new? No, 20 years ago we already wanted to create flexible and innovative applications. But the focus has changed, by then the focus was on departments and the functionality that was required for a specific department.
Nowadays the focus has shifted towards an end to end process focus.
But when a business process spans across multiple systems you can see the knowledge worker struggling through the process. Frequently supported by actions to copy and paste information from one system into another and switching from one application to another with, of course, different look and feels.
Problems like these are solved with composite applications, functionality is brought together into a new application to provide a single point of entry to the knowledge worker.
The aimed efficiency improvement is important, as nowadays people do not want to wait anymore. Not after they ordered something on the internet, not until an answer is given by the helpdesk on a question, not in private life but also not in business life. Information, accurate and quickly, has become more crucial then ever. A business process has to be as efficient as can be in order to serve the knowledge worker and, in the end, the customer of course.
Here you have it, a real life example of E-SOA. E-SOA is about business processes, make these processes as flexible as possible in order to be adaptive to fast changing business requirements. A composite application requires an E-SOA, in fact you can see a composite application as a real life example of E-SOA. It will change the SAP world, not only for the knowledge workers but also for SAP consultants. Yesterday they were coding in ABAP or Java, today they generate the code via the SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio and tomorrow they will model composites in the Composition Environment.
|Find info in IT system
||Push info to knowledge worker
||Business process focus
|Built to last
||Build to change
|Tight integration (one application to another)
|Coding an application
||Modeling an application
Real life examples
What are real life examples of composite applications? A very famous one is DUET, the co-developed solution to integrate SAP ERP and Microsoft Office functionality. The daily process of knowledge workers is improved and more efficient with DUET.
Another example is the possibility to use a web service that plots an address on a map. If you combine this with your CRM or ERP system you get an instant view on where your customer is located and how to plan a trip. Again an example of process efficiency as you do not have to switch to another application to do this.
Also you can link several solutions into one new application, for example SCM functionality combined with an Analytics application. Bring the information together on one place, and it is obvious that you will support your knowledge workers in making decisions on base of accurate information.
In my current project we integrate SAP ISU, SAP CRM and some custom made applications into composite applications. These applications will be used both internally by back office agents as well as externally by front office agents and even by the customers themselves. Three target audiences for the same functional components. Only the user interface is different, as internal call agents will have more functional possibilities than the customers.
Hype or real?
Composite applications are no hype anymore, it is reality. Within this new era of application realization they are here to stay. More and more applications will be modeled on top of existing functionality. By integrating functionality that is based on best practices you create next practice applications. Knowledge workers and SAP consultants have to focus on how to model a business process and to translate this process into reusable components.
With the composite philosophy you can follow your ideas, not the IT release strategy. You are able to quickly deliver next practice composites to support your differentiating processes. You can do business as you want to do business – and of course you want to be outstanding in the way you do your business. Remember that E-SOA or a portal is not a goal. An efficient innovative process that helps your knowledge workers to do their job effectively will keep you in business.
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