On Demand III: And the Coming Pretty …

On Demand is here to stay. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison recently said that he expects the on-demand business model to be an increasingly influential one and he personally owns large stakes in a number of on-demand companies that have been making headlines. Even Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has called on-demand software the most important trend in the software market over the next two or three years.

On-Demand software allows Supply Chain Management (SCM) to spur creativity and business innovation by freeing them from mundane administrative tasks. After all, the future of software will not only be about how software is supported and delivered, but about how it can make critical information more accessible and usable for tomorrow’s knowledge workers.

On-demand is the natural evolution of software. Some people are calling it a revolution and saying the best is yet to come. For example, Jason Busch, founding partner of Azul Partners and blogger extraordinaire of Spend Matters recently stated that he predicted the next generation of on-demand software will:

  • incorporate external content and insight as a fundamental part of its
    value proposition,
  • leverage community and shared instances for the benefit of all participants, and
  • transform internal spend management service delivery models.

To a large part, I believe this to be true, though in reality the implementation and usage will likely be slightly different then what Jason is predicting.

However, one of the things that the evangelists, and there are many, are overlooking is that one of the key benefits of future software-as-a-service offerings is the forthcoming transformation to software-with-a-service. With software-with-a-service, offerings will be inherently customizable and provide instant integration (or touch) points to related on-demand services and value added offerings.

Furthermore, there’s this new evolution of rule-based programming called business process management (BPM) which has led to the development of workflow and process-focused development languages such as java Business Process Management (jBPM) and Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) which allow for the development of a new generation of workflow driven applications. These new workflow applications can be customized on-the-fly to incorporate modified processes and workflows that not only allow for the construction of more versatile and configurable applications then before, but also allow trained business users to define their own workflows through a visual environment. Furthermore, since these technologies are being built hand-in-hand with web-services, it should be obvious that on-demand offerings are going to be the first to incorporate these new capabilities.

The future of on demand is coming, and it’s going to be awesome!


For more information on software-as-a-service and on-demand, see the On-Demand / Software as a Service Application Platforms wiki-paper on the eSourcing Wiki.

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