Business transaction-related electronic information flow has spiraled to new heights. Companies operate on the aggregated results of millions of 'events' and the prevalence of web services has served to further swell the volumes of data that must be extrapolated, interpreted and processed at any one time.
Who has profited from this reality? Well, ERP (enterprise resource planning) and complex event processing firms haven't done too badly I suppose.
But isn't it time for some refinement in this area? Isn't it time for new efficiencies to surface? Can't software application development connect the dots through certain streams of data flow to produce a more joined up set of transactions?
Logically, of course I've just read a story about this, so here it is: ERP vendor Infor is partnering with Microsoft to produce a new service called Infor ION to augment its SOA connectivity and data sharing capabilities and support web services. The ION Document Exchange offering exchanges "complete" electronic business documents that include all data associated with a particular business event.
Could this be the way forward? Should business transactions that logically exist together have been grouped more closely before now? Is each application working inherently slower than it could do had these groupings and associations been previously made? Does ERP need a fresh approach to integration and is transaction time being wasted in the meantime?
Ken Vollmer, George Lawrie and Mike Gilpin of Forrester wrote a paper called It’s Time to Tame the ERP Integration Beast from which the following quote has been taken.
“Integration challenges are often the foremost obstacle to getting the full value from packaged enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions ... Integration with these systems has frequently led to significant complications because core ERP applications are often better at collecting information than at making it available in all the places it is required. Therefore, application development and delivery professionals should evaluate their ERP integration strategy and upgrade it to ensure that it rises to the level required today to support agile operations inside and outside the enterprise.”
For their part, Infor's senior VP of global product development Mr Soma Somasundaram reckons that regardless of which application has created a piece of data, the need to facilitate business document exchange in a 'richer and more heavily concentrated' manner will be key.
Call it intelligent ERP, call it aggregated data management, call it coalesced complex event processing – or simply call it transaction control, but there might be something in this.