Mashups first made their name in the enterprise by allowing business teams to create workflow applications that IT did not have time to help with. Some people, this writer included, have said that mashups could be one of the big things about enterprise 2.0. Here are three firms that are taking the concept deeper into the enterprise infrastructure.
SynerG does deep mashups within the enterprise systems through a SOA approach to extract real-time information from enterprise systems (even legacy systems). They bring this information into an intelligent unified business application so the call center person sees only one application on their desktop. Through mashups they build new applications that draws data from multiple sources but have intelligence to act on this data. In some ways it is like a portal in that the application provides access to information through a single source. However, portals are thin layers that just pass through information. SynerG creates a “thick” layer that goes much deeper. Most enterprise data sources were built for specific audiences, like accounting, purchasing, or production, and often have tool constrained interfaces. Data that is then passed through to other departments is often not in the format that meets the needs of the new audience. SynerG allows for the dynamic restructuring of data to meet each specific audiences requirements.
The data remains stored in the original spots. SynerG creates a virtual data map of the enterprise. Then it adds a layer of business intelligence to know what to get from where and how to change it to fit the new need. This also allows for better security, as well as efficiency, as employees only see what they need to do to perform their job. This mashup approach also allows for one step actions. For example, if someone cancels a subscription, changes do not need to be made in multiple databases. Their solution does something else: it cleans the data during use. They have a data federation model (with some pending patents) that does not assume clean data but then allows employees to clean up data in the course of use. These data cleanups are passed back to all the original sources.
Nexaweb Enterprise Web Suite also makes use of mashups to convert legacy systems with less risk, in less time, and at less cost than the old style methods. The power of these composition applications actually goes beyond simply doing a migration to dramatically reduce costs and obtain more agility. Enterprises are now able to create new intelligent applications that draw on multiple data sources but are much more than portals. Call centers are great venues for this type of change but it is not limited to them.
For example, Nexaweb has provided a number of banks with an end-to-end foreign currency trading platform that gives access to over 120 data sources, inside and outside the enterprise. However, the platform does not simply provide traders with windows to all this data in a few seconds. The application is fully functional so that all back end trade execution processes are handled in a few seconds in a single application. It is an enterprise mashup of the entire process. The banks get a transformation of the technology supporting their work, not simply a migration to web applications.
BroadSoft is introducing a new set of services through the BroadSoft Xtended initiative that brings together the carrier-grade BroadWorks voice applications with Web 2.0 applications through mashups. They are also opening up application creation to third party developers through the BroadSoft Xtended Developers Program, another smart move. The developers can then sell the applications to the enterprise. Enterprise IT can also develop their own applications. This new Web 2.0 initiative will help to integrate communications services and business applications. It will also bring BroadSoft’s name further into the marketplace. They are now targeting the long tail of the market by making these applications available directly to consumers and not going through their traditional customers and channel, the large telecoms.
Salesforce.com and ACT! are among the companies launching product taking advantage of this BroadSoft Xtended VoIP integration with their applications. With salesforce.com the new application allows users to click–to-dial from within salesforce.com, transfer calls, and automatically record call times/dates so less manual work is required. Other partner mashup applications to be announced include: IBM with Lotus Notes; Microsoft and Outlook integration; Simulscribe (voice to email transcription); and Facebook click-to-dial. The Facebook click-to-dial widget allows you to place a Click 2 Message button on your Facebook profile. A friend can then contact you by inputting their phone number. This is open for use by anyone with a US phone number. Many of the other applications are free to the 6,000,000 people making calls on a BroadWorks switch.