Microsoft's MapPoint .NET - A Web service for developers with real live business benefits
At its TechEd conference this week, Microsoft announced the release of MapPoint .NET, a hosted Web service that enables developers to embed geographic data into their applications. The MapPoint .NET service includes geographic data for the United States, Canada, and Europe with support for over eight languages. As MapPoint .NET is a SOAP-based XML Web service, it can be programmatically accessed by any development tool that supports these standards and is not just limited to Visual Basic .NET users.
Developers can integrate their applications with MapPoint using a software development kit (SDK) to incorporate location data into a wide variety of consumer and/or business applications that can be deployed on the Web or on a mobile device. The horizontal application possibilities are vast.
THE HURWITZ TAKE: MapPoint is a shining example of a real Web service that provides concrete business benefits. The service can be purchased on a per-transaction basis or on a subscription basis, enabling organizations to buy what they need. Geographic data can be used in a wide-range of applications, such as asset tracking and routing and can be combined with enterprise applications such as sales force management and business analysis and intelligence to enhance insight into business operations ? all giving the MapPoint service a broad market reach. As geographic data changes quickly, it's hard to manage and maintain, and can be a time sink for a development organization. It falls under the category of one of those things that would be nice to add to our applications, but we just don't have the time or the people to devote to it.
The IT department wins, as it can concentrate on the business-specific expertise its developers bring to applications, and the end-users win, as they have a richer, more meaningful application that helps them do their jobs.
As more developers build Web services and explore and illustrate the business benefits that can be realized with the new computing model, Hurwitz Group would expect to see more developer-focused Web services available to the market. As organizations continue to squeeze the maximum benefit from their technology resources and work to bring IT and business directives closer together, they should seek out services that enhance their existing capabilities without distracting them from their core business competency. Services such as MapPoint .NET enable organizations to easily incorporate geographic data when and where they need it.
Copyright 2002 Hurwitz Group Inc. This article is excerpted from TrendWatch, a weekly publication of Hurwitz Group Inc. - an analyst, research, and consulting firm. To register for a free email subscription, click here.
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