As Web services and service-oriented architecture evolved, IT departments were charged with creating “composite” applications that drew processes and logic from various back-end systems into a single front-end application. For example, at some carriers, customer service reps (CSR) had to access several different mainframes just to make a customer address change, since data was spread across different systems. A single composite application, running on an easy-to-manage Windows or Linux platform cut this laborious process to one CSR transaction.
Now, the rise of enterprise mashups is adding a new dimension to the productivity promise of composite applications. Enterprise mashups are lightweight, highly visual applications that pull in data from any source, internally or from the Web. The classic example is employing Google Maps to plot out data points, such as office locations, or sales opportunities.
The most compelling aspect of enterprise mashups is that they are simple enough to be created by end-users themselves without the requirement of putting in work orders with IT and waiting for the application to be developed, tested and deployed. IT is busy enough, and the rise of mashups encourages business users to take responsibility for much of their own IT inventory.
Two new books on the market — Mashup Patterns: Designs and Examples for the Modern Enterprise by Michael Ogrinz, and Mashups: Strategies for the Modern Enterprise, by J. Jeffrey Hanson — make the case for bringing mashups into the enterprise, as well as letting business users build their own applications.
Ogrinz points out that with the rise of social networking sites, with their open APIs, thousands of users became bona fide developers. "They quickly learned to build their own personal portals,” he writes.
Hanson points to all the use cases that enterprise mashups can address: identifying potential customers; providing more effective customer service; better enabling human resource departments; supporting research projects; financial analysis and reporting; sales forecasting; purchasing accuracy; and pinpoint marketing.
For example, when it comes to better understanding customers, Hanson illustrates that mashups can employ “information pertaining to a given customer or company extracted from publicly available sources, such as news feeds, stock reports, and search results, and combined with contact information and past sales efforts to more accurately identify customer needs.”
Enterprise mashups provide the tools to compete more effectively, he points out. “Using data extracted from RSS feeds; search results; and competitive data such as financials, product prices, product news, acquisition announcements, and strategic partner agreements can be combined and delivered to your sales departments, and marketing departments, enabling them to keep a more watchful eye on the competition.”
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.
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