Why Service-oriented Computing relies on services marketplaces
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is growing smarter because of our daily interactions with computers. It understands our natural “human” languages; imitates our idiomatic expressions; uses different registers of speech and communicates with us. What’s more, it’s inventing languages only computers can understand. In the business world, AI isn’t all that autonomous; it still needs human intervention to operate.
Service-oriented Computing, or Service Computing, was developed for improving business models and processes. Automation increases efficiency. Service-oriented Computing has defined languages for computers to understand what services are. Cloud computing is the end-result of a long innovative development in e-business to enhance business management and processes. This goal is achieved through the automation of services.
Arguably, the only cloud in the horizon is the incapacity to standardize non-commoditized services. It hinders personal services from being fully automated. Nevertheless, robots can tend some bars in the Silicon Valley. Is the automation of non-commoditized services only a matter of time?
In a previous article, we’ve shown that the more commoditized a service, the easier it is to automatize. This article focuses on service description languages. While Service-oriented Computing is limited to commoditized services, services marketplaces are essential for making services registries available to consumers.
E-business and the invention of Service description languages
E-business engineering is a mix of e-business, business engineering, computer science, and management science. It is shaping the future of Information Technology (IT)-transformed enterprises.
As Kuo-Ming Chao recalls, it all began with businesses transiting towards the digital age, from paper-based manual operations to digitalized and automated processes. Innovated business solutions were invented to remedy traditional business methods, patently inadequate and inefficient. Businesses and individuals were able to use these technologies to expand their activities and business relationships with other individuals.
As a result, IT is a driving force in shaping the e-business engineering landscape. On the one hand, new business technologies create new market opportunities, and on the other, new business models have extended requirements only new technologies can meet.
Software engineering for e-business, including Service-oriented Computing, and virtual marketplace engineering form major IT breakthroughs. Due to IT breakthroughs, the web offers more and more services.
Service-oriented Computing, description languages and the search for online services
Service-oriented Computing uses Web Service Descriptions to standardize services (figure 1). Service-oriented Ontologies form service registries (figure 2). Registries allow consumers to search and discover services.
How are service descriptions standardized?
- Who. Several standards organizations, such as the WC3, are involved in the standardization of services descriptions.
- Limitations. Although the technology commonly used for service description is XML-based, what these languages fail to do well is to understand one another.
- Solution. The chart below shows a recap of the technologies developed, the advances made, and the issues faced by Service-oriented Computing.
Search for online services: the role of service marketplaces
Search solutions allow service consumers to specify the functionalities they require, and to discover services from registries.
Today, the key challenge for web services is the automated generation of service descriptions. If service descriptions are automatically generated, then consumers will more efficiently search services online. In the meantime, updating the service status, for instance, may be difficult to propagate because of ad hoc (local, as opposed to universal) formats.
The following chart summarizes how service registries are formed.
Automation won’t stop services marketplaces from developing. In fact, service providers need these platforms to publish and advertise their listings and to match service providers and consumers. Amongst other benefits, e-business platforms are a reliable way to make transactions. Since they ensure trust between service provider and consumer, they also secure user conversion, from first-time visitors to return customers.
The Internet of Things is formed of interconnected objects and hardware worldwide. While computers can communicate with other computers without being prompted by humans, they need interpretative frameworks, called APIs, which only humans can develop.
E-business has successfully automated highly commoditized computer-to-computer services, via Service-oriented Ontologies and Registries. Low-commoditized and personal services, however, are difficult to automate. For this very reason, B2C and B2B services marketplaces still are the optimal solution for answering the challenge of selling services online.
Full automation would require no human intervention at all. So, marketplace entrepreneurs rest assured: even if robots can perform personal services, such as hairdressing and bartending in the Silicon Valley, caring for the elderly in Japan, automatic check-outs at the supermarket in Europe, full automation won’t happen before long.
As Ryan W. Buell puts it: “service can be emotional; technology cannot.”
Baek Kim, Jin, and Arie Segev. “A Web Services-Enabled Marketplace Architecture for Negotiation Process Management.” Decision Support Systems, vol. 40, no. 1, July 2005, pp. 71–87.
Bouguettaya, Athman, et al. “A Service Computing Manifesto: The Next 10 Years.” Communications of the ACM, vol. 60, no. 4, Apr. 2017, pp. 64–72.
Buell, Ryan W. “The Parts of Customer Service That Should Never Be Automated.” Harvard Business Review, Feb. 2018. hbr.org,
Cabrera, Oscar, et al. “Ontology-Based Context Modeling in Service-Oriented Computing: A Systematic Mapping.” Data & Knowledge Engineering, vol. 110, 2017, pp. 24–53.
Chao, Kuo-Ming. “E-Services in e-Business Engineering.” Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, vol. 16, Mar. 2016, pp. 77–81.
Cocolabs, “Online Delivery Models and the internationalization of service companies.” Online blog.
Fauska, Polina, et al. “The Role of E-Commerce in B2B Markets of Goods and Services.” International Journal of Services Economics and Management, vol. 5, no. 1/2, 2013, pp. 41–71.
Feller, Gordon. “IoT is coming to the supply chain: What happens next?”. SupplyChain Dive, 19 June 2018.
Ghazouani, Souad, and Yahya Slimani. “A Survey on Cloud Service Description.” Journal of Network and Computer Applications, vol. 91, Aug. 2017, pp. 61–74.
Wilson, Mark, et al. “AI Is Inventing Languages Humans Can’t Understand. Should We Stop It?” Fast Company, 14 July 2017.
At Cocolabs we’re working on the standardization of services. We build custom service marketplaces. Each new project is an opportunity to further our reflection and refine our understanding of what is at stake: human interactions, set in a given time and space dimension.