Web Services Is a Priority

The economy and the skepticism surrounding IT projects like CRM and data integration may have halted many implementations, but a new report from Gartner says that companies still see Web services projects as top priority. According to Gartner, 48 percent of North American enterprises surveyed said the economic slowdown has caused them to reduce spending on Web services development, but not so much as to discontinue these projects. The survey was conducted in January and February of this year, and included 111 companies based on their involvement with initiatives relating to Web services. This survey was designed to identify and analyze trends involving current and future Web services development projects during the next 12 to 24 months. While some respondents said they were reducing spending on Web services, nearly one third of those surveyed indicated that the economic slowdown has not affected their organization's budgeted investment in Web services--development projects. For these companies application development, including Web services, is one of the last budgets to be raided when budget cuts are made. The results indicate that companies really are sold on Web services as the best path for integration, according to Nicole Latimer, an analyst with Gartner. "The majority of respondents (92 percent) indicated that integration with existing internal applications and processes was the most common function or activity related to their Web services projects, and [32 percent] of respondents indicated that integration with external partners' applications and processes was a key activity as well," she says. According to the survey, 54 percent of users noted that they were already using or planned to implement Web services to integrate applications both within the organization, as well as with partners or customers, during the next 12 months. During this same time frame, 39 percent were already using or planning to use Web services only within their organization. However, when the time frame is extended to during the next 24 months, 65 percent of respondents said they were planning to use Web services intra- and interenterprise, and only 23 percent limited Web services projects to only within the enterprise. During the next several years the software and professional services markets will undergo considerable consolidation. Latimer says those left standing are likely to have recognized that Web services have ushered in a new design center for development and integration: the business process. Successful companies will have revamped their skills mix and replaced commodity technology skill sets with business process and management experts and technology. "Software vendors that are among the top three in each Web services category (consumer, producer, provider, and management) are likely to remain in the top three to five through 2007," Latimer says. "To take part in the Web services wave software vendors and system integrators must communicate a clear, concise, cost-saving message to potential customers," Latimer adds. "Each vendor must tell a clear, distinct story about how Web services will benefit enterprises and how Web services will evolve to transform their businesses."
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