Integration will grab IT spotlight in B2B's wake

The central IT focus for the Australian enterprise market over the next two years will be integration as organisations set in place their e-infrastructure, according to B2B software provider Viewlocity.

Nic Pollock, managing director Australia and New Zealand, admitted IT managers are struggling with the costly and complex process of integrating multiple applications in a bid to move into the new economy. But he said he believes the problem can be reduced to a "buy versus build" debate.

Pollock was responding to the results of a Forrester Research survey (CW, October 2, p3), in which users claim integration is costly, complex and lengthy and no vendor can provide a single solution.

"There is an acceptance that you can buy solutions rather than build in other areas of the IT market and this view needs to be applied to integration," he said.

Pollock agrees point-to-point integration is expensive and the growth in specialist applications has led to a huge growth in maintaining interface applications.

"Maintaining these interface applications is what is expensive and there has been a view that you solve integration by throwing bodies at it; there are applications that can do integration for you but it's a matter of bypassing the perceptions of initial outlay costs because the ongoing costs of maintaining interface applications is ultimately greater," he said.

Pollock said the market has evolved considerably since Viewlocity moved into Australia in 1997, but it is still in its infancy, he said, admitting there is still no single "killer application" that can provide an end-to-end integration solution.

"The world was held back by Y2K and then Australia was stalled by the GST, so resources were diverted away from strategic planning, but the recent flood of trading exchanges has created a shift and organisations are now targetting their e-infrastructure," he said.

According to Gartner, B2B e-commerce in the Asia-Pacific region is set for explosive growth as e-sales transactions are forecast to reach $510.7 billion in 2003.

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