In recent blog entry, Charles Maxson asked the question about the target audience for IBF. Which company can implement it? Who should attempt it? His response is, “Anyone who uses Office and could benefit from tighter integration with other systems.”
I agree with Charles that IBF is not necessarily just for enterprise companies. Some mid and small companies can be pretty avant-garde and want to bring LOB data and other company-wide data and data operations brought into the Office real-estate. He rightly acknowledges, however, that it is most likely that larger organizations will have the expertise to do the kind of technical lifting that IBF requires.
The fact is very few organizations would not benefit from tighter integration with other systems. This is good news for IBF, but it is really doesn’t answer the question about who the target audience is. IBF, in my view, is about rethinking the value of having Microsoft Office on nearly every desktop in an organization. There it is. People are composing documents, sending things around, creating charts all day long. They are working with data. But, too often, while the information workers have a clear connection in their minds between their work in Office and other applications (for AR, AP, etc.), the connection to Office must be hand-rolled from scratch. Sure, there are ODBC connectors in Excel and things like that, but this not reach far enough. Information workers do not just want a better import/export routine, they want something more like a powerful add-in right in the Office app.
But, how do you do it? Where’s the guidance? What should the architecture look like? IBF steps in the breach with an underlying foundation for this kind of integral power. IBF is about using Web services and loads of meta data along with smart tags and task pane technology to give information workers this kind of tight integration. Rather than create the system from scratch, you can start with the Information Bridge Framework. The title is exactly right in this case. It’s an information bridge, and it’s a framework.
Rock thought for the day: The Johnny Cash version of “Hurt” by Trent Reznor is haunting and moving. Check out the audio sample for the album.