The current wave of social networking phenomena seems to spawn a new website or next big thing on a weekly basis. Facebook is hot, MySpace is fading, and Friends Reunited is simply dead. However, the social networking trend has already begun to stray beyond the bounds of keeping up with friends – business is starting to take advantage of the technologies spawned by the social networking revolution. Web 2.0 changes the way businesses interact with customers having economic, communal and technological impacts.
Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is a business-driven IT architectural approach that supports integrating your business as linked, repeatable business tasks, or services. These functions may be provided locally, remotely, or via an external system. SOAs effectively build applications out of existing software services. Using an SOA methodology or mashups (the difference being that mash-ups are always web-based whereas SOA is not) to bring in useful communication and information services could see an online convergence of services like email, news aggregation, account management and so on.
The standardised technology within most business (XML, HTTP, AJAX, REST, RSS) provides almost boundless possibilities for creating business oriented, efficiency-increasing Web 2.0 applications.
Mashups are created by drawing together internal and external information and applications, leveraging them to reach a new level of business competitiveness. The web provides the central nervous system for this new generation of mashed-up, linked applications. By using a standardised computer code, applications can be made to talk to each other, creating innovative new applications and services.
At this early stage for mashups they can be used to save many hours in administration. However, with increased security and development, as well as by leveraging the Web 2.0 phenomenon, mashups could become central to business development.
One way of utilising Web 2.0 mashups is the oft-quoted example of mashing Google Maps with currently existing core systems. The most cited example here is the delivery company mashing up their existing sales tracking system, inventory control system and delivery system with the Google Maps API. Therefore drivers can be given the best routes for delivery, as well as traffic reports, which is bound to boost productivity.
Businesses are using SOA and Web 2.0 to reach new markets and improve efficiency and collaboration. Web 2.0 extends the reach of SOA by making it simple for both business users and less advanced programmers to create or remix their own rich applications and to access services through the web.
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