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Web Services Slowly Catching On

Although the financial-services industry has been somewhat skeptical about Web services, institutions are slowly warming up to the concept.

Although the financial-services industry has been somewhat skeptical about Web services, institutions are slowly warming up to the concept. They are cautiously deploying the foundations of internal Web services, which will later help them connect seamlessly to the outside world. It's no wonder that they are taking their time. After being burned one too many times when the dot-com boom went bust firms are making sure they do their homework before jumping into any major initiatives. Many are concerned about investing in visionary concepts, such as this one, that might be hot today but fizzle tomorrow.

Some skeptics have said to me that Web services is just a new buzz word for integration or straight-through processing, but I believe it is more than that. Without a doubt, it will help achieve STP and integration efforts, but it can also offer a good deal more, as our feature story explains.

Merrill Lynch is a huge Web services supporter. As a matter of fact, the firm just completed its Web services boot camp - an internal forum for all Merrill CTOs and IT managers. The purpose was to help them grasp the vision of Web services and learn how Web services will change their business.

John Cummings, COO of Merrill, admitted that he was skeptical at first. He wasn't sure how much was hype or whether Web services would make the impact that many are claiming. However, he notes that after attending the boot camp, he is a changed man. Cummings said he is truly a believer that Web services will be a major breakthrough for the industry. As a result, Merrill is putting resources toward building the foundation for Web services throughout the firm.

Wall Street & Technology is also a believer in the value of Web services. We understand that the major impact is still years away - perhaps even five to 10 years - but now is the time to begin building the foundation in support of the future.

As a result, WS&T, in conjunction with our partner TowerGroup, have decided to create a Web services Thought-Leadership Program. The group will consist of 100-150 members from securities and investment firms, charged with the task of better understanding or implementing Web services. The group will gather four times a year to meet peers, discuss progress, swap ideas and experiences, gain a better understanding of the fundamentals behind Web services, get advice as to how to proceed, etc.

The group is based on an annual membership. Each meeting will include a panel discussion of peers who have deployed Web services in some way. At one meeting, TowerGroup will unveil research that is usually only distributed to Tower members.

We're in the process of finalizing the format and items that we will cover during these meetings and I would love to hear your ideas. If this is something you would be interested in, or something you would like to learn more about, shoot me an e-mail and I will be sure to include you on the invitation list. Membership will be approximately $1,000 but will only be open to the first 150 people.

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