CRM Thrives on Open Standards

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Through all of its evolution, Dovetail Software’s family of CRM products has embraced open standards in the process of bringing extensibility to Clarify’s proprietary code. Open-standard scripting languages such as JavaScript simplify and energize extension and integration throughout the enterprise computing environment. These languages are readily recognized by many applications, and freely employed by in-house IT departments.


Standards sometimes arise first, often from a single developer or project, and afterwards get the seal of approval of a trusted authority that enables all developers to embrace the technology. This happened with JavaScript, created initially by Netscape. The same thing is happening now with Adobe’s PDF (Portable Document Format) specification, which it is currently offering for ISO standardization.


Other times, standards have to be created. This is occurring now in the CRM environment as SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) continues its evolution: suggested standards begin to be discussed, and standards already accepted are solidified.


Respected SOA expert Dave Linthicum weighs into this area with suggestions for an SOA methodology (procedures for workers within the discipline itself), preliminary even to technological standards.


“So, how do we go about doing this? First, you have to give this notion a cool TLA, I’m thinking Open SOAMethodology, or OSM. Second, set up the infrastructure for sharing, I’m thinking a wiki approach is best. Finally, put some initial content out there to get things rolling. I’m happy to do that.”
Are we Ready for an Open SOA Methodology?


A similar community initiative has already launched in the attempt to establish an actionable, industry-standard definition of CRM 2.0. This is in a wiki started by industry commentator Paul Greenberg, with figures from both the technical and the business sides of the industry already joining in the debate.


Meanwhile back with the technical standards of SOA, Bert Latamore, in a solid Computerworld article we recommend, reviews the standards progress in SOA, quoting Ettienne Reinecke of Dimension Data as follows.


“According to Reinecke, one of the major reasons that object-oriented architecture, which, along with the Internet, can be viewed as the immediate progenitors of SOA, never succeeded outside some small, highly controlled environments, was the lack of an adequate base of industry standards. […] This time, he says, the XML standards and the business process languages are established, and most presentation layers are set at the XML layer. ‘So we have a much better chance of getting it right. […] At the applications level, he says, ‘it is clear that the market will no longer accept the vendor-proprietary solutions of the past.’ The replacement of proprietary software with standards-based applications is forming the basis for a converged network architecture.” What’s holding back SOA?


Dimension Data has its own survey of the IT infrastructure industry, published in a white paper that lists 13 key industry standards crucial to the development of SOA (registration required): Converged Communications


So much for the network, but Amdocs argues that there is more to business than just the network. With its release of Amdocs 7, the company is announcing an SOA-based set of open frameworks compliant with (telecommunication) industry standards as its foundation platform for integration. Amdocs advances the integration theme into business process also, with additional tools. The company further blogs this caution:


“Business and operations support systems (B/OSS) must be evaluated early on in conjunction with any network upgrade projects in order to understand what upgrades, enhancements or replacements will need to be made to ensure that they too can properly support business initiatives. In the right hands, these core systems can make or break the ability to play—and profit—in a converged, ‘anyplay’ arena.” Convergence relies on more than network technologies


It’s not yet clear what the new Amdocs release will do for the Clarify database owner; we’ll keep you posted on this as we gain an appreciation of the new offering. In general throughout the industry however, it is good to see discussion about standards. Open standards that can be relied on by rapidly merging and overlapping industries create the crucial foundation for innovation and technology growth.