It is not easy for businesses to make their operations more efficient, partly because their information systems do not provide notifications of events as they are happening. Most enterprise technology uses batch processing and is designed to move data from one database to another; otherwise it requires people to go and find the data they need. To be more responsive, new technologies capture and process events that are triggered by underlying systems and manage them through complex event processing (CEP). This technology is part of our research in the general category of information management; and in researching the category we call operational intelligence but now CEP is becoming embedded in other technologies in the enterprise.
One instance of that is the recently launched Salesforce Chatter, a business collaboration technology that extends the social concepts of Facebook and Twitter to the enterprise; that is, it enables people across and within departments and processes to communicate and provide updates on activities relevant to their mutual productivity and the outcomes of their efforts. I assessed this technology when it was announced in 2009 (See: “Salesforce Chatter Brings Social Collaboration and Media into Business”), and my colleague recently reviewed it (See: “The Buzz Is about Salesforce.com Chatter”); now the vendor is building up to the second major release of it. Excitement about Chatter is warranted, but the challenge for organizations is how to make their existing systems and applications support it from an event enablement and overall business process perspective. While salesforce.com’s demos make that look easy, it is not a snap to connect to your enterprise systems like an older version of SAP or an industry application from Oracle, much less configure the underlying data processing in mainframes to provide updates to Chatter.
Addressing this issue is iWay Software, an operating unit of Information Builders, which announced that it can integrate Salesforce Chatter with more than 300 enterprise sources or systems, including critical databases, systems and applications from Oracle, SAP and many others that have been acquired by the two. The background of iWay Software is in enterprise application integration (EAI) but has expanded to support data integration, master data management, data quality from on-premise and now to cloud computing and CEP, as I assessed earlier this year (See: “iWay Software Deepens Information Management Expands to Cloud Computing”). This foundation helps iWay CEP Enable not just to connect systems to collaborate in Chatter but also to take Chatter into workflows across ERP and CRM systems. A simple video from iWay Software shows how you can integrate Salesforce Chatter with enterprise systems and gain more value from the major investments already made in those applications. When those systems are interconnected through iWay CEP Enable, iWay Cloud Services provide tools to integrate them; this is a much easier method than having IT build custom connectors one at a time (and create new disconnected stovepipes). Instead of just event-enabling a system, iWay applies discovery techniques to determine the association of events and activities and adds filtering, rules and workflow that can be used to update the originating applications and systems in a secure manner. The capabilities are available today to integrate systems with Salesforce Chatter and Twitter along with supporting RSS and Web 2.0 APIs, and I expect iWay Software to be ready to support Salesforce Chatter 2 soon after it is released. Salesforce.com should be excited to have such a partner boost its cloud computing business by integrating Chatter with enterprise systems in a simple manner.
This technology advance by iWay Software makes possible the prospect of deploying activity streams across systems and into business collaboration. Operational intelligence of this sort can harness the power of CEP to facilitate improvement in operational productivity and performance as I have asserted. Our benchmark research in operational intelligence and CEP shows that 72 percent of organizations want to use CEP to reduce the time required to respond to opportunities or new situations. This is an important step beyond the dead end of business activity monitoring (BAM) that I noted in 2009. Responding to events and taking action is more important than just monitoring them – that is what operational intelligence is all about. This combination of technologies is an innovative and disruptive technology in 2010 that I pointed out at the beginning of this year for enterprises to examine. I expect this enabling technology to create a major buzz at the annual Dreamforce, coming up in December, as more and more CIOs and IT organizations look for integration of the salesforce.com products to the enterprise.
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Mark Smith – CEO & EVP Research