Old Problems and New Markets
Never did I not exist, nor did you nor these kings. Nor shall we ever cease to exist in the future.
Bhagavad Gita 2.11 and 2.12
The problems of partner communications remain with us, particularly in the mid market. Exchanging databetween partners, creating streamlined trading agreements, and handling transaction exceptions aresome of the challenges facing SME's. These problems are long standing and perpetually irksome for allenterprise classes, and the questions is, 'at what cost can these issues be addressed'?Don't let the hype surrounding cloud computing obscure its potential for providing valuableservices tothe SME.Mid market commerce is suited to cloud platforms, because data access, translation, andprocess orchestration are delivered at a fraction of the costof licensed applications. Most platformproviders work with an impressive cadre of 3rd party web services via public APIs, while PAAS (Platformas a Service) environments rival well established IDE's for custom code and UI craft.Beyond the supply chain, we see the development ofworkforce and task management, subcontractor RFP, accounting, and plenty of variations on lightweight floor inventory control and POS. Supply chainfunctions are there too, some rivaling the robustness of costly integration servers. In short, this is a richmarket.These platforms will not totally eliminate the problems of partner peering, enabling open trade, andliberating data from rigid tabular confines, but they are certainly the next place to tackle the problems of data transparency.Having partially addressed the economics of applications delivered at-scale, the cloud operators are onthe lookout for broadly applicable solutions for their subscribers, perhaps via partnerships with commercemessaging providers that will provide the path to expanded services.
Rapid Services Creation and Delivery
Seemingly impressive partnerships and strategic agreements abound within the B2B cloud ecosystem -most being enabled by external APIs. A popular on-line GL application might connect to a plethora of external services for project management, content management, logistics, etc.These partnerships are often quick to form - particularly when API access is provided at low or no cost asa value add. While these architectures may not be paragons of standardization, they prove that newservices can be mashed-up and delivered when opportunity calls. Agility is the watchword whenmastering the 'art of rapid services'.Classic EDI providers take note that a few of these companies have forged alliances with retailers andindependent service companies. Not all of the programs have been successful, and very few wouldsurvive a direct comparison to capital line applications within the EDI orbit. However, this trend will onlycontinue to gather steam. The cautionary tone is not to alarm, but to inspire.Some of these companies provide free API access with limitations. Similar to open source models, theseproduct strategies bring in business via free API access, and monetize via extended and premium serviceand support packages.Lessons: