BOSTON -- The amorphous nature of Microsoft's .NET strategy is nothing new, but last week a Microsoft executive attempted to define how .NET will impact customer relationship management (CRM), the Internet and the enterprise.
In his keynote speech at Thursday's DCI Microsoft .NET and Solution Offerings conference, Dan'l Lewin, a Microsoft executive vice president, called .NET the software that will connect information, people, devices and systems.
The building blocks for successful Internet-related innovation, according to Lewin, involve combining XML Web services, user experience and services that span systems, organizations and geographic boundaries.
Emphasizing the importance of connectivity, Lewin discussed Microsoft's goal of making it easier for users to both create and find relative, contextual information. Based on the Web services model, he said .NET is designed to bridge systems and devices, both new and legacy, as well as more effectively connect an organization's partners and customers.
XML Web services combine applications and Web sites with pervasive programmability for the Internet, based on standardized schemas and object semantics. Lewin said user experience will include software for smart devices.
Lewin also focused on .NET's three main themes: innovation, revolution and evolution.
During the Internet's innovation stage, it progressed from TCP/IP connectivity to HTML presentation to finally XML programmability, which he called the cornerstone of integration. Lewin said the Internet's widespread acceptance succeeded in lessening the distance between people, businesses and the information they need.
Lewin called today a revolutionary time in the evolution of the Internet because viable, long-term economic opportunities are materializing. He pointed out that although "revolutions" historically take a long time to occur, Internet advances will move more quickly because Web services will fuel that movement.
One early adopter of .NET, Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Front Range Solutions Inc. has already built a pure .NET-based mid-market CRM application designed to offer internal operability with office apps and external interoperability with Web services and other applications.
But like many in the audience, Dave Goodspeed, operator of Zero Gravity Roller Sports, a skate park in Rutland, Vt., is just starting to familiarize himself with .NET. While he felt that .NET might be the answer to help his company reach more customers and communicate better with them, he said that .NET is not yet a viable option for small businesses because of the IT expertise and capital needed to implement .NET applications.
According to Lewin, the next level in the technology evolution is the Global XML Web services architecture (GXA), which will allow modular construction of applications and the ability to identify horizontal functionality. In the next three to five years, Lewin expects .NET to impact value in the digital world, respond to customer demands and connection of systems, parts and customers.
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