It’s no longer an issue of whether enterprise services should be 2.0’d via widgets, RSS, and the like. CIOs & CSOs grasp the undeniability of this paradigm. But there is still a gap between the desire and reality of getting these enterprise services out the door. It’s one thing to design a Facebook application, it’s another getting it to interact with the backend systems commonly deployed in enterprise IT setups. Enter WorkLight, an Israeli startup with $17M in its war chest whose mission is to assist enterprises to get their services working in places where their users and customers are actually frequenting online.
WorkLight discovered that large companies in sectors such as financial services, retail, telcos and travel, are looking for better ways to connect with customers and partners residing outside their firewall. If the “internal portal” was ever effective in the first place, it has become an increasingly uphill battle getting outside partners to log-in these days (not to mention employees).
The company also discovered that so called “Enterprise 2.0” projects that were developed internally fell short in living up to enterprise-grade levels of security, scalability and backend integration.
The company’s answer to this plight is the WorkLight Server, which retrieves information from enterprise applications such as SAP, Oracle, and SharePoint, as well as corporate and marketing databases and directories. These adapters can retrieve any type of data required to complete business tasks, by accessing specific enterprise application modules. Types of data retrieved include customer transaction histories, product inventory availability, employee reported working hours, etc. The WorkLight server resides behind the company’s firewall and employs technologies to ensure that customer information and corporate data are secured. None of the information visible on any of the Web 2.0 services resides on external servers.
Such information is then displayed via any of the 15 Web 2.0 platforms and services supported by WorkLight: RSS, iGoogle, Netvibes, Microsoft Live, Generic HTML Gadgets, Google Desktop, Apple Dashboard, Windows Vista Sidebar, Yahoo Widgets, Facebook apps, MySpace apps, Del.icio.us, Google Gears, Adobe AIR and iPhone.
The WorkLight Server extracts only that information that is relevant to the specific logged-in user. For example, an iGoogle gadget can access a book publisher’s sales data and display book performance relative to a reseller’s location. Another example is a bank customer using an iPhone app to access his entire family’s credit card transactions, while his college student daughter accesses her personal credit card’s transactions through a Facebook app.
The company won’t discuss specific customer projects, but says that it has working implementations with customers across a range of industries including financial services, retail banking, manufacturing, book publishing, technology and IT services and utilities.