In 2007, you'll hear plenty of pundits going on about architecting "agile, competitive, strong-performing" apps that help your organization reduce costs internally, while maintaining customer satisfaction. Easy to say, hard to do. And it's even more challenging to figure out how to make those technologies work together to meet specific business needs.
Take customer churn. Recurring revenue streams aren't only for subscription-based products; selling a widget once is great, but any sales guy will tell you his forecasts include a high percentage of return business. Although not all applications running in your data center affect customer retention rates directly, they do influence the ability of customer service and sales representatives to have a positive effect on that rate. Conventional CRM and homegrown systems, for example, often require customer service representatives to page through two or three different screens of data to assist a customer. This process makes the call longer than necessary. When applications aren't tightly integrated, the rep may be forced to re-enter information. If you've ever been asked to repeat the spelling of your name multiple times, you know how cumbersome and inefficient the procedure can feel to a customer.
If your customer is the business, you might think this doesn't apply to you. Think again. Professional-services organizations across the globe are ready to step up if management decides to outsource your services. The ability to satisfy the business' needs directly translates to how well it can satisfy customers--you know, the people who ultimately pay your salary.
Mashups And EII
If you've surfed the Web in the past few months, you've experienced Web 2.0 and the applications it enables, including aggregated news feeds, instant communications and mashups.