Hewlett-Packard has been talking up its new electronic commerce solution, e-speak, since introducing it in May. And financial firms are listening as e-commerce builds momentum across the industry. E-speak, an open, multi-platform environment, enables companies to connect electronic services applications.
Developers can use a variety of underlying programming languages, including C++, Java or even Cobol, to integrate the e-speak components and dynamically connect systems. Because e-speak was built around open Web standards like HTTP and XML (extensible markup language), H-P plans to make the core code available free over the Internet by the end of the year.
The general manager of H-Ps Open Services Operation, Rajiv Gupta, says H-P has been inundated with inquiries about e-speak. He says financial firms are ripe to leverage the technology as they integrate across lines of business and move toward a more customer-centric approach.
OKOBANK, the second largest bank in Finland, is considering using e-speak to create an e-services consortium in Helsinki. H-P says several financial firms are considering using e-speak for a variety of purposes including integrating multiple outsourced e-services, monitoring a portfolio of e-services on a metered basis and brokering e-services to match buyers and sellers.
However, some analysts say H-P is a little late coming to the e-commerce party as companies like Sun Microsystems, IBM and Microsoft have already brought e-commerce solutions to market. Meta Group program director Daniel Sholler says Microsoft, for example, has made significant headway with BizTalk, its XML version of HTML. On the other hand, BizTalk was designed primarily to run on Microsoft servers and operating systems while H-P says e-speak is platform and operating system independent. Moreover, Gupta says e-speak is compatible with BizTalk.
Still, H-P will need to overcome several challenges to prevent e-speak from being lost in the noise. First, H-P will have to build momentum with e-speak fairly quickly because such integrated technologies require widespread adoption in order to fulfill their promised potential. Second, H-P will have to clearly enunciate e-speaks technological added value over, for example, developing similar e-services components in Java alone.
Gupta concedes that the e-speak components can be replicated in other languages like Java. But he says e-speak will nevertheless help companies reduce their time to market with the capabilities it provides. "Youll need this functionality one way or the other," he says. "You can either use e-speak, or build up the functionality provided by e-speak from scratch."
"The more pervasive it is, the more useful it will be," adds Gupta. "But e-speak is proving useful and offering excellent return for the money even before the world has adopted it."