Redmond, Wash., August 17, 1998 — Linking computer systems that help companies efficiently perform everyday business functions can make — or break — a corporation.
Companies that don’t effectively link these systems prevent employees from getting the information they need to do their jobs. As a result, employees may duplicate the work of other departments, service representatives may have to check multiple computer systems before responding to customers, and companies can quickly lose any hard-won competitive advantage.
In an attempt to address this issue, Microsoft and several software partners will make the integration of “Line of Business” applications one key focus of the Business Application Conference ’98, Sept. 9-11, in Las Vegas. The technical conference is designed to help software developers integrate applications so they can help companies operate more efficiently.
“It’s no surprise that a company can realize better business value from each of its departmental applications if it can figure out a way to link these applications together,” said James Utzschneider, director of evangelism for Microsoft’s Application Developers Customer Unit. “This conference is basically the first time Microsoft and its partners have offered a hands-on forum demonstrating best practices on how to do so. We’ll provide conference attendees with source code, sample applications and detailed technical information that show developers just how to integrate Windows applications with the rest of the enterprise.”
The “Line of Business” sessions involve a series of sample applications that represent different functions: enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer tracking, sales force automation and procurement. These systems are often acquired and implemented at different times using a variety of hardware, software and data architectures. As a result, linking these systems to each other and to other types of software applications poses a critical problem for companies, which can severely limit their overall efficiency.
For example, a manufacturer may want to allow corporate customers to order products directly via a Web site integrated with the manufacturer’s SAP R/3 accounting system. This order entry system in turn is integrated with the computer system used by the sales department to track customer purchases — and with systems used by the engineering, accounting and shipping departments. This entire web of applications at one company is integrated with applications at the customer’s company, so that bill presentment, pricing changes, inventory status and shipping schedules area all exchanged securely over the Internet. Presenting and exchanging this information in a user-friendly, integrated fashion among different departments and across corporate boundaries is essential, yet poses significant challenges for the corporation.
Developers attending the Line of Business track at the conference will learn how to solve problems like these. They will have the opportunity to hear the perspectives of architects who designed these products as well as customers who have deployed them. The discussion, over a period of two days, will break these applications down to their source code and cover issues ranging from the architecture behind integrated systems to the management of these solutions once developed.
“Developers have told us they want to learn how to combine custom applications with multiple Microsoft technologies, partner products and existing Unix and mainframe applications into a complete solution,” Utzschneider said. “The conference will provide some practical examples on how best to do that.”
In addition to seeing real-world solutions demonstrated and receiving sample applications and source code, attendees can also attend keynote speeches delivered by Microsoft President Steve Ballmer and several other Microsoft executives, including Bob Muglia, Paul Gross and Jim Gray.
By integrating Line of Business applications, developers can help realize the vision of a “digital nervous system,” in which an entire company’s information systems work together efficiently, in much the same way as the human nervous system.
“Basically, we’re trying to help developers find real answers that solve real business problems,” Utzschneider said. “The conference will be a great opportunity for developers to tap into products, technologies and expertise they can use to save their companies and customers tremendous amounts of time and money.”