Monday, March 12, 2007

Global E-Business

There was a time when Business used to take place in person. ie people used to discuss among themselves and finalize the deal. While this was the best way for doing the business, it had few drawbacks as well. It was time consuming and one was limited by the time and resources available.

The times have changed and we moved to E-Business now. The transaction which used to take place over phone or in person started to happen on internet. While this enabled us to do transaction with any other business located in any part of the world, it introduced quite a few complexity in the whole process. But this is not what the main theme of this post is.

The Vision of E-Commerce
The original vision of E-Commerce was to enable anybody to do trade and negotiate with anybody else. But is that really possible in current scenario? Lets see what it takes to have such a system in this world:
  1. A Machine Interpretable format or A system must be in place which can deal with numerous and heterogeneous data formats and numerous and heterogeneous Business Logics. A Strong decoupling is required for various applications/components which realizes the E-Commerce application.
  2. Some sort of semantics is needed in this heterogeneous environment which will allow mediation at the conceptual level. i.e. a Strong mediation service is required which allows a system to communicate with another system. Here we are talking about machines to communicate with each other without human intervention.
Is Current Technology Sufficient?
In todays world we have Technologies like Multi-Tier and Distributed computing, Web Services, Web based shopping carts etc. These tools and technologies help people to do business over web. We call this E-Commerce. But they are nowhere close to realizing the vision of E-Commerce. These technologies while they work great with known systems, they fail to mediate between two different systems. Also the systems today are not able to handle the hetrogenity in terms of data and business logic.

Web Services as a technology has made lots of promises to the businesses worldwide. It had what it takes to become the most acceptable solution for E-Commerce. But since its advent it failed to realize the vision. I will discuss about this in one of my future post. In my previous post about Are Web Services Really Web Services, I had pointed out what is missing in today's Web Services.

What is the Solution?
Semantic Web as a technology has lots of promises to the world. Semantic web promises to make the content of world-wide-web Machine Readable and Machine Processable. Semantic Web involves Ontologies which is one of the most abused term (from its original meaning). Researchers around the world are working day and night to make the web contents machine readable and machine processable by developing Ontologies. At the same time Web Services community also worked on to improve the Web Services Standards. But so far not much of work is been done to combine the best of two and come up with a powerful solution.

Semantic Web Service is one such solution which promises to enable E-Commerce in its original form and realize the vision of E-Business.

In my upcoming posts I will discuss about Semantic Web Services in detail. Starting from conceptual level to the more detailed level architecture and implementation.

Until Next Time.... :)