Web services represents an opportunity to derive business value quickly out of business situations where interoperability and time to market are critical. Michael Hoch, senior analyst for Internet infrastructure at Boston-based Aberdeen Group Inc., estimates that companies can create new applications or integrate old ones in 30 percent of the time it would take to build their own integrated applications using traditional software development methods. That means CIOs can often tell their staffs simply to jump in and pilot Web services projects without having to change their existing infrastructure significantly. "With Web services, you don't have to rip out the software investment you've already made," says consultant Hagel "You can get more business value from existing platforms."
Yet with standards still developing and many efforts still in the pilot stage, Web services still has far to go before it fulfills its potential. "But that's always true with these emerging technologies," says IBM's Sutor. "It takes some time to really understand the business value of these things."
STEPHEN LAWTON, a freelance business and technology writer in San Bruno, Calif., has written about technology issues for more than 20 years.