Using the Internet as a Communication Channel

Retrieving data from web pages and publishing results as web pages is in many ways a passive use of the Internet; the web server is being used primarily as a storage medium. Web servers are also able to host applications, with which you can interact in a more dynamic manner. The server application acts as a single point of contact for all the client workbooks, to perform the following functions:

□ A centralized data store

□ Collation of data from multiple clients

□ Presentation of that data back to other clients

□ Workflow management

□ Calculation engines

As an example, consider a timesheet reporting system, where each member of staff has an Excel workbook to enter their time on a daily basis. At the end of each month, they connect to the Internet and send their timesheets to an application running on a web server. That application stores the submitted data in a central database. Some time later, a manager connects to the server and is sent the submitted hours for her staff. She checks the numbers and authorizes payment, sending her authorization code back to the server. The payroll department retrieves the authorized timesheet data from the same web server directly into its accounting system and processes the payments.

In this business process, Excel is used for the front-end client, providing a rich and powerful user interface, yet it only fulfils a specific part of the overall process. The server application maintains the data (the completed timesheets) and presents it in whichever format is appropriate for the specific part of the process.

By using the Internet and standard data formats for this two-way communication, you can easily integrate Excel clients with completely separate systems, as in the payroll system in the example, and allow the business process to operate outside of the corporate network.

0 0

Post a comment