The Good, the Bad and the XML

As hype passes, IT professionals seeing benefits, challenges of adopting standard

Gaithersburg, MD  May 11, 2001  Information technology professionals see clear benefits to be gained from adopting the XML standard, but the immaturity of the standard, a shortage of IT staff and the existence of competing standards are complicating adoption of XML, according to a new survey released this week.

The survey, conducted by e-business research company Intellor Group and IT meetings organizer Wilshire Conferences, analyzed what IT professionals perceive the benefits and challenges of XML to be. Intellor surveyed 232 attendees at a Wilshire conference in March.

The survey provided a current snapshot of where companies are with their levels of understanding, acceptance, adoption, implementation, application and selection of XML and XML-related technologies, as well as the impact XML has had or will have on their organizations.

"The survey research we performed serves as a measure of how effective the marketing hype that surrounds XML has been and how discerning IT professionals have been at separating the wheat from the chaff in truly understanding XML," said Grant Laing, a senior analyst at Intellor Group. "Our research shows that the benefits are well understood and tangible, and the challenges are recognized and likely to recede over time."

In the study, 66 percent of respondents cited the fact that XML provided a common B2B data format as one of the standard's primary benefits. Respondents also cited common data access and XML's ability to serve as an enabler for enterprise application integration as key benefits.

At the same time, 64 percent of respondents said that the immaturity of XML was a primary challenge in adopting the standard. Lack of IT staff was a problem for 61 percent of respondents, while 53 percent cited competing standards as a hurdle in XML adoption.

"There's a widespread perception in the IT community that it takes 10 minutes to understand ... XML and 10 months to understand the new technologies hung around it," said Michael Champion, a senior research and development advisor for new technologies at Software AG, which provides an XML platform. "We've seen XML used to justify some extremely visionary scenarios presented by prominent software executives. Now the reality that XML is basically a way of describing data in a simple, interoperable way is becoming more obvious."

In other words, companies are recognizing that XML is a tool rather than a solution in and of itself.

For a primer on B2B standards, see "Tearing Down the Tower of Babel" in the June 2001 issue of iSource Business.

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