The headline might be a little too rough on Microsoft, "too little, too lame" but I think the company needs to wake up to where the world is headed. While Microsoft offers yet another tactic to keep Office relevant, the world of enterprise IT is moving in another direction.
Microsoft released the third in what will be a series of Office Business Applications, Reference Application Packs [OBA RAP]at the end of last week.
I'm not completely sure of what to make of them but here's what they are and what they are defintely not.
OBAs give companies the ability to do things like take a business process from a line-of-business [LOB] application and plug it into into Word. The idea is to allow workers who are familiar with the Office interface to move a business process along, say a loan application approval process, without having to learn the entire loan application software.
Microsoft is slowly and steadily releasing these OBAs for different veritcal solutons. Each will offer best practices and templates for various line of business processes which can then be customized to suit the actual process a company may be using.
The news OBA RAP is for Loan Origination Systems.
Microsoft is trying to say that Office is relevant and that it can become a development platform that can integrate and interoperate with other vertical applications to create something new. Microsoft hopes that one plus one will equal three.
But, what it is not is an enterprise mashup.
I think Microsoft is reading the market wrong. OBAs remind me of old school EAI, enterprise application integration technology while the entire world is moving to an SOA architecture.
Mashups can do the same thing and over time I think even the most staid of enterprises will not wait for Microsoft to launch its next OBA RAP solution. After all five years from now companies may not even be using Office.
Rather the viral network will sooner or later inform the most conservative IT shop with the news about mashups and how they can easily integrate the logic from one process with the logic from another to create a useful new process. Here one plus one will equal three for sure.