“New” mashup platforms taking over the enterprise? Not yet.

Wow, Dion Hinchcliffe at ZDNet has looked at the enterprise mashup space in much more depth than I did a couple of months ago.

He raises some interesting issues, though, about why some of these tools are struggling to gain acceptance in the enterprise.  I believe that there are some unique features that need to be addressed to meet enterprise requirements:

1.  Security.  Mashups are playing with corporate and often customer data.  This is why SaaS (software as a service) may not be a suitable model.

2.  Scalability. This sounds really obvious but enterprises normally have massive amounts of data and massive amounts of data processing.  Any mash up tool must scale.

3.  Legacy applications.  It not just about web apps.  Mashup tools need to get data from a wide variety of software architectures:  Client server, mainframe, Java, Windows etc.

4.  Robust error handling.  When something goes wrong something needs to be fixed, or someone needs to know about it.  This is a layer that is not obviously apparent in many of the current offerings.

5.  User experience.  There is no point in a mashup tool if a business person can’t use it.  If technical resources need to be deployed, or additional code needs to be written then the mashup tool is only of use to the scarcest of resources in the enterprise, the software developer.

6.  The focus on building new GUIs as a mashup has only addressed one small part of the enterprise need.  Most enterprises have back office processes that only require human intervention because of systems integration issues.  No GUI is needed.  The process just needs to be automated end to end.  In call centres, activities post-call prevent the agent taking the next call and would be better handed off to an automated process.

This is why I am still not sure whether our product, Blue Prism Automate is a mashup tool or not to be honest.  The concept came directly from a real enterprise requirement (a retail bank call centre/back office to be precise) and the product has matured and been proven in many live environments for security, scalability, and compliance.  The development has been genuinely customer driven and, now at Version 3 the product has (finally!) addressed the ease of use issue.

But it cannot build a new GUI with, or without widgets.  It merely automates processes or parts of processes.  So it is useless in a back bedroom or even a small business, but the growing customer base contains some of the Europe’s largest companies which is hopefully testimony to its suitability for enterprise use.  Horses for courses I guess.

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