Industry researcher Gartner has issued an obituary for the standalone website, which it said is no longer a viable means of fulfilling orders online.
By 2004, more than 70 per cent of ebusiness applications not integrated with back-office systems will fail in meeting business expectations, the company predicted.
Gartner also warned that users integrating their websites with core business processes still face a rough ride because application integration technology (AIT) still lacks maturity.
Massimo Pezzini, vice president and research director at the company, said the AIT market will double as firms realise they can leave their website operation isolated from the rest of their business.
Licence revenue for integration middleware suites will grow to about $1bn in 2000, up from $490m in 1999, he said.
Pezzini said that standalone website systems are not viable for processing a large volume of orders and are likely to result in missed business opportunities due to misplaced orders or a failure to reply to customers' enquiries in time. Some online businesses, such as those for booking air travel, are not viable without being linked to back-end systems, he added.
"To be successful in ebusiness initiatives companies must consider them as part of their core business because you need a real-time exchange of data and information," said Pezzini. "If you don't integrate customer business on the web with core business you will fail from the business point of view."
He explained that customers generally have a large number of back-end systems making the job performed by AIT very complex. Obtaining support from vendors and the high cost of application integration packages, which begin at around $200,000, are further problems.
"For users, finding the right pieces to use is a nightmare," said Pezzini, adding that extensible markup language, whilst useful, is not a "silver bullet" solution to application integration headaches.
Gartner does not expect vendors to converge on a single uniform set of features for an integration middleware suite during the period from 2000 to 2005, if ever. Instead, products will evolve to target specific industries such as banking or manufacturing, it said.
Additionally, the market for integration middleware is in turmoil as is characterised by the number of mergers, acquisitions and new entrants in the market. Gartner predicts consolidation will continue in the middleware market with a top tier of three to five vendors emerging by 2003.
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