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Future@ERP (1): Which role Web 2.0 will play in the ERP game?

What are your main investments in 2008/2009? This question is asked to a lot of CIOs these days. Many companies are planning a major ERP upgrade and doing first steps in a SOA based environment. These strategies are well aligned with business stakeholders and are based on a solid business case. It goes more flawsy if it comes to the topic of Web 2.0 usage like blogs, wikis, discussion threads or social networks. 

Analysts are talking about the additional value of Web 2.0 in combination with a service-oriented approach, which extends the reach of the enterprise systems as known of today. “The simple fact that you get more information, more capability and more features on the Web to get work done than you do in your own company, is pretty much driving these Web 2.0 initiatives,” said R. “Ray” Wang, a principal analyst at Forrester. “Honestly, I can get better services outside of most enterprise companies today. We need to collaborate and we need a system in case our enterprise systems fail. Corporate IT departments are trying to figure out how to incorporate Web services, packaged app vendors are trying to figure out how to incorporate them, and users are just trying to figure out what they can do and still adhere to corporate IT policies.”

 Another trend we are seeing at the corporations is, that there aren’t changes just be one’s that imposed by necessity, many of them are driven from the bottom up. These kinds of grassroot IT solutions are mainly pushed by the Web-savvy workers. It brings a kind of parallel model of helper applications, which are often deployed in a Web or cloud environment and based on Web 2.0 paradigm. This working in ‘two parallel worlds with different capabilities’ will result in a push for generic features within the business systems. Most of these are lacking these systems since years, but now it could be directly compared with the web-based applications. I am expecting a high demand in the following areas:

  • Real Enterprise Search:
    Everybody is using google like search capabilities for any information on the web he is looking for.  The users will complain more and more about silo-based search capabilities. Unfortunately there is no cheap quick fix
  • Security will become a major concern
    More and more business information will be moved in open wikis and social networking applications across the corporate firewalls. The edges of the corporation will be more and more porous from a security perspective. The demand for holistic concepts will increase dramatically to ensure confidentiality of business information and secure IP.
  • Blogs and Wikis are driving the demand for extracting business information
    Blogs and Wikis are containing every kind of business information, from project status to research topics and organizational information. This information is efficiently linked and represent an own information network. The demand will rise to have a high-level overview about the available information.
  • Enterprise intranets will learn social network capabilities
    Relationship management, collaboration capabilities and building ad-hoc interest groups will change the usage and the value of the current intranets. The process to get projects done will change with the availability of this kind of features within the company. This knowledge networks will be extended across the company borders and will establish dynamic structures of fast problem solving methodologies.
  • Mashups are coming, but slowly
    We will see more and more enterprise mashups, however it requires a more or less code-free composition of information. This mashup capabilities are going hand in hand with situational applications, which are composed on the fly combined with analytical capabilities and business data available on-demand.
  • Rich Internet Applications are extending the UI capabilities
    Adobe AIR and Microsoft Silverlight applications will bring a richer user experience with new graphical capabilities to adress complex business situations in a new way. We see spreading such capabilities in the analytics area and in edge applications like talent management. These new high graphical interactions are going beyond eye candy.
  • Mobile devices are enabling web based collaboration
    Blackberry and iPhone are a new push to the mobile business applications. Even in business environment these new gadgets are on the way to improve the business work beyond email exchange. Mobile internet and access to exchange servers will become a driver for a new mobile application generation. The availability of little helper applications for these devices will push the demand for embedding business applications with a look & feel built for ad-hoc usage.

So all in all we will see more and more a democratic Web 2.0 revolution, which will touch the business systems like ERP on many areas. Do you agree? In which application areas do you see the hardest push for Web 2.0 capabilities?

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      In a Web 2.0 world, we are dealing with unstructured content and data. ERP on the other hand relies on very-structured data due to pre-defined data-types. Master data is first defined to be used for transactional postings. How to ensure data integrity is provided within the Web 2.0 world?

      Empowered by Web 2.0, the internet and their ability to share information, enterprise boudaries will be less rigid. It’s another channel of information sharing. Corporations can share knowledge, requirements, guidelines, etc. with partners, as well as vendors and suppliers in a more effective and structured way.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      The demand for data integrity between structured and unstructured data is requested for many usecases, also besides Web 2.0. But you are right, Web 2.0 enforces such a functionality even more. I think, that next generation search capabilities could lead a way to a solution for this topic. We could imagine, that every keyword in a blog will be on the fly detected by the system and matches against the structured data within the system. This could be offered as a help for the author and could work as a first validation check. With the upcoming main memory database usages in business systems we could use another kind of very fast search algorithms to do a match in milliseconds. However a good amount of research and development has to be done to bring this to live in a broad scale.
      I completely agree to your second point, which will enforce the security issues of such a behaviour. Data integrity and security aspoects of a porous company border have to be on the agenda for the next wave of Web 2.0 surrounded functionalities.