opened the door for organizations to exchange information electronically over a set of agreed-upon standards, collectively known as the Internet standards of TCP/IP, HTTP, and XML. The Internet altered the cost structure of collab- oration for organizations because of the global acceptance of these technology standards.  EDI  has  been  around  for  years,  for  the  most  part  implemented by large corporations that could afford to install the technology for inter- organization purchasing processes, forecast sharing, payment and reconcilia- tion  of  shipments,  and  more.  The  Web  has  changed  the  cost  equation  for exchanging  business  information  between  firms,  which  means  the  price  of entry is now much lower. A rich variety of new solutions are embracing col- laboration, or c-commerce as some analysts have dubbed it. Early implemen- tations of collaboration demonstrated the potential—yet they also illuminated the shortcomings of existing Web technologies and standards to support this rapidly emerging space. But the act of collaborating with another organiza- tion,  not  to  mention  many  organizations,  requires  new  ways  of  connecting businesses together. Collaboration is far more than the static exchange of e- mail or spreadsheets. It is interactive. It is live, or real time (or should be as required  by  the  business  process  being  driven  by  collaboration).  Business process collaboration necessitates more than limited information exchange. The brutal shakeout of dot-coms, further complicated by the economic recession, proved that despite all the glamour of e-Business and technology, there  was  an  obvious  problem.  The  business  environment  had  not  really changed for most businesses, and the rules of survival had not changed either. Business models were still stagnant, fixed, and unchanging. IT architectures are still ERP-centric, prone to inflexibility, and very difficult to customize and extend to support emerging business needs. These application strategies lock an organization into a fixed way of conducting internal operations according to the business model of the software vendors. Implementing a typical ERP application requires the adoption of a view of internal operations that sub- stantially complies with that of the software vendor and its other customers. This  situation  removes  opportunities  for  unique  competitive  advantage through business process execution and operational excellence. ERP-centric architectures are based on the architectural philosophy of internal operations efficiency. Building a single view of internal operations based around a centralized database of the organization allows visibility of financial  metrics,  inventory  levels,  customer  information,  orders,  and more,  all  in  real-time.  This  capability  is  powerful,  despite  some  of  the issues that attend these implementations. These issues include, but are not limited to, the following: n Rigid architectures freeze corporate operations into a fixed, inflexible model n Complex  architecture  means  changing  one  module  often  necessitates changes in many other modules 16 EXECUTIVE’S GUIDE TO WEB SERVICES 74188_WY_Marks_01  2/5/2003  4:08 PM  Page 16