Business Process as a Service: next phase

Can business processes be packaged up and offered as application programming interfaces? Many such services are now emerging.

Cloud and Software as a Service is moving ever deeper into the enterprise. Business process API providers are starting to have their day. And, perhaps, they can deliver on the long-sought vision of assembling appropriate business apps in the fashion of Lego blocks.

Call center-US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Tnat's the word of tech investor Robin Vasan, writing in GigaOm, about a new emerging class of business process APIs. They differ from infrastructure-level APIs, he says, as they "are truly plug-and-go, requiring minimal programming, and thereby approaching the promise of 'legofication.'" And here's the clincher: "By targeting business processes such as payment processing or expense management, they are directly linked to revenue generation."

With such promise, as well as low access costs, business process APIs will be disrupting the business process outsourcing market.

Some examples of business process API providers, cited by Vasan:

  • Rubicon (Web advertising)
  • ZooZ (credit card/checkout)
  • Alfresco (enterprise document management)
  • Workday (Enterprise-ERP)
  • FinancialForce (Finance-accounting)
  • Coupa (procurement)

Vasan also discusses the evolution from rudimentary callable services to business process APIs:

"It all started with portable DLLs and shared libs, and then we went through a bad phase with DCOM and then moved onto to XML and SOAP which were unfortunately too prescriptive and constraining. Thankfully, HTTP and RESTful services emerged to provide a Web-style stateless approach. Each of these iterations has made it much easier for developers.."

(Photo: US Bureau of Labor Statistics.)